Wednesday, February 14, 2018


I finally got a chance to check out one of our new books Cheesecake Love by Jocelyn Brubaker. It must be a good one because every time I went to the shelf to find it, someone else beat me to it. Maybe it was the attractive cover depicting pretty mason jars filled parfait style with strawberry pie filling, cheesecake, whipped cream and topped with a strawberry cut to resemble a heart? Or maybe it was the subject matter....a whole book dedicated to cheesecake! I finally reserved it, hoping that I was the next on the list and went to the store to stock up on cheesecake baking staples.

If you love cheesecake, this book does not disappoint. It  is filled with over 75 inventive cheesecake recipes, one more scrumptious sounding than the next. There are so many kinds to choose from: cheesecake pies, cheesecake brownies, cheesecake cupcakes, breakfast cheesecake, and even no bake cheesecake. The full color photos helped me to choose which recipes I wanted to try; Triple Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake, Banana Caramel Cheesecake, Triple Peanut Butter Cheesecake....the list goes on and on. 

It has been a while since I've made a cheesecake so I decided to start with a simple recipe - Vanilla Bean Cheesecake.  It is a great base cheesecake that can be eaten plain or  dressed up to suit your taste. I chose to pair it with berries and fresh whipped cream but depending on your mood, you can top it with mixed fruit, candy, chocolate or flavored syrups. It will be perfect for Valentine's Day dessert!

I halved the following recipe to make (3) 4" mini cheesecakes and baked them until the center of the cheesecake was firm ( about 1 hour ) . The benefit of making mini cheesecakes is:

1) You don't need a crowd to serve it. One 4" round cheesecake is just enough for 2 people or 1 hungry cheesecake lover!

2) They are easy to freeze - just make sure to leave the cake in the springform pan and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. ( it can survive in the freezer for up to 2 weeks)  Take it out in the morning, defrost in the refrigerator and it should be ready to eat when you come home form work!

Vanilla Cheesecake with berries - perfect for Valentine's Day dessert.

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

For the Crust

50 regular size Nilla Wafer cookies
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbs unsalted butter - melted

For the Cheesecake
4 (8 oz) package of cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs vanilla bean paste ( I used pure vanilla extract )
4 large eggs

1. Place a large rimmed baking sheet on the very bottom rack of the oven and fill it halfway with water. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 10" springform pan with parchment paper. (I used three 4"round mini springforms and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray)

2. For the Crust : Pulse the cookies in a food processor a few times until they are completely crushed. 

3. Mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter until it resembles course sand. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside. 

4. Beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. 

5. Add the cream and vanilla bean paste and beat until creamy. ( I used pure vanilla extract  -  extract and paste can be used interchangeably along with vanilla beans - in equal amounts) 

6. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Make sure the eggs are fully incorporated but do not overbeat the batter. 

7. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Place the pan on the oven rack right above the tray of water. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour 20 minutes. 

8. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Let cool for 5 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan. 

9. Let the cheesecake cool for 1 hour, then refrigerate it for 4 to 6 hours, or until completely chilled. Detach the springform pan ring and remove the cheesecake from the pan. Slide the cheesecake onto a serving plate. 

10. Serve with whipped cream and fresh strawberries, if desired. 

"With over 75 delicious recipes, dozens of easy-to-use baking tips, gorgeous color photos, and Jocelyn's warmth and bubbly personality on every page, this cookbook will become the go-to source for all things cheesecake, perfect for new and experienced bakers alike. With Jocelyn by your side in the kitchen, every dessert can become a blank canvas for a little cheesecake love."

Happy Valentine's Day!

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