Friday, October 28, 2011

Whole Foods Friday: Vanilla Bean Cheesecake (Tart)

Make cheesecake in a tart pan? Yes, you can!

I love my tart pans. I use them all the time for fruit pies. I like to be able to take the dessert out of the pan - it looks pretty and it's easier to serve, as well.

But there's another benefit to making a dessert in a tart pan instead of a pie pan or any taller pan. Serving size. When you serve a slice of pie or cake, you look at the size of the wedge to judge serving size. You'll probably serve close to the same size wedge, whether the dessert is an inch tall or is a triple layer cake. It makes portion control just a little bit easier.

So when I decided to make a cheesecake, I decided to make it in a tart pan. Why not?

The bourbon in the sour cream topping takes the place of vanilla. You could use vanilla instead, if you prefer.

For the crust, I made a shortbread cookie crust. Any shortbread or vanilla cookie would work well, whether it's store-bought or home made. If you like the cookie for eating, it will make a good crust.

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Tart

For the crust:
Shortbread cookies to make 1 cup of crumbs (4-5 ounces of cookies)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
For the filling:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or the seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean pod
1/4 cup cane sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup sour cream
For the topping:
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon bourbon
2 tablespoons sugar
For the whipped cream (optional):
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crust:
Put the cookies on your food processor and pulse until you have small crumbs. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is like wet sand. Don't overprocess or you can turn it into a paste.

Press the cookie mixture into the bottom and part way up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan. You can go all the way up the sides, if you like, but you don't have to.

Place it on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until it is lightly browned. Remove it from the oven an let it cool while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling:
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each time until it is fully incorporated. Add the cornstarch, vanilla, vanilla bean paste, sugar, and salt. Mix on low speed until it is combined. Mix in the sour cream.

Pour the filling into the crust in the pan, and smooth and level the top. Bake on the baking sheet at 350 degrees until the filling is starting to set but is still jiggly in the center, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the topping:
Combine the sour cream, bourbon and sugar in a medium bowl.

Pour the topping evenly over the partially-cooked filling. Bake on the baking sheet for an additional 15 minutes. The filling should still be just a little jiggly in the center.

Remove from the oven, and let it cool on a rack to room temperature, then refrigerate until fully chilled - about four hours, or longer, if you prefer. The cheesecake can also be frozen, if you prefer.

If it was summer, I'd say this would be great with fresh berries. At this time of year, fruit preserves or fruit syrup would be nice, along with a small dollop of fresh whipped cream.

To make the whipped cream:
Combine the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer (or whisk by hand, if you prefer) until the cream is at soft peaks.


Marnely Rodriguez-Murray said...

Love it! I'd never thought about it, but tart pans work for anything! Cheesecake looks good!

Jeannie said...

I love the idea of using a tart pan for baking cheesecake! It does looks pretty too!

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