If you love smooth, rich, creamy cheesecake then this vanilla bean cheesecake is for you. With a graham cracker crust and whipped cream on top, it’s pretty impossible to beat!
Vanilla cheesecake is a classic for a reason right? This vanilla bean cheesecake is flavored with a whopping two vanilla beans plus some vanilla extract to give it just the right amount of vanilla flavor.
It’s a show-stopping dessert for holidays and special occasions!
Why you’ll love this vanilla bean cheesecake:
- With vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and melted white chocolate in the filling, this cheesecake’s flavor is really special
- The cheesecake bakes in a water bath so you’re ensured an evenly baked dessert with an irresistible creaminess
- Slices freeze really well so you can keep some on hand in case you ever need dessert in a hurry
Making the cheesecake
You’ll start by making the crust:
- Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar
- Stir until the crumbs are evenly saturated
- Press into the bottom and partway up the sides of a springform pan
Then work on the filling:
- Beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer for 5 minutes
- Beat in eggs, vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract, and salt
- Then mix in melted white chocolate and heavy cream
- Pour into the crust
You’ll bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes; when the cheesecake is done, it should look something like the photo below.
Cool your cheesecake to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.
When you’re ready to serve, you’ll make whipped cream to top your cheesecake.
- Beat heavy cream until it thickens
- Add powdered sugar and vanilla
- Beat until the cream holds stiff peaks (if you pull the beaters out of the cream it should hold its shape rather than fold in on itself)
Pipe or spread on top of the cheesecake, then slice and serve!
Recipe notes and tips
• To use vanilla beans: Slice your vanilla beans lengthwise with a small paring knife. Use the back of the knife to scrape out the inside; the scraped part is what you’ll add to your cheesecake filling. Discard the outer pod.
• When I do a water bath for my cheesecakes, I like to leave the water bath in the oven until it’s completely cooled so if I accidentally spill the water I don’t get burned.
• The cheesecake needs to chill overnight, so be sure to plan ahead.
• This recipes calls for a 9-inch springform but you can substitute a 10-inch springform pan. If you do, reduce the baking time to 90 minutes.
• Make sure that you beat your cream cheese thoroughly so your filling isn’t lumpy; be sure your cream cheese is fully at room temperature as well, so it’s easier to eliminate the lumps and to incorporate with the other ingredients.
How to store cheesecake
If you have leftover cheesecake, it can be stored (covered) in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.
Slices can also be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months. I recommend freezing slices on a foil-lined baking sheet for half an hour or so, until they’re firm to touch. Then wrap them tightly and freeze.
Defrost slices in the fridge overnight or on the counter at room temp until they’re soft enough to eat. (Or eat them frozen!)
How to tell when cheesecake is done
Most cheesecakes are done when the very center of the cheesecake has a little jiggle if you tap the side of the pan. The edges should be set—if the edges still jiggle then your cheesecake should probably bake longer.
But always consult your recipe; if the recipe gives you an indication that the filling shouldn’t jiggle at all or that the edges should jiggle too then go by that.
For this vanilla bean cheesecake, you want just a slight jiggle in the center. The edges won’t puff up much but they’ll appear set and the top will be golden brown.
How to soften cream cheese for a cheesecake
The best (and only, if you ask me) way to soften cream cheese for baking is to let it sit on the counter at room temperature for about an hour.
The amount of time it takes will depend on the temperature in your kitchen; it can take as little as 30 minutes if your kitchen is warm, but generally it will take closer to 60.
I never recommend softening cream cheese in the microwave because it can soften unevenly, heating too much on the outside and staying cold on the inside. This makes it difficult to incorporate all of the other ingredients properly.
What are vanilla beans?
Vanilla beans are long, dark brown-to-black seed pods. They’re considered the “fruit” of an orchid plant. (In fact the word vanilla derives from the diminutive of the word vaina, which is the Spanish word for pod.)
Both the pods and the seeds they contain are used to create vanilla extracts and flavorings.
How to use vanilla beans
Vanilla beans provide amazing flavor in cheesecakes and tons of other desserts. French vanilla ice cream? Those little flecks are seeds from vanilla beans.
If you happen to have vanilla beans you want to use in a dessert, they’re very simple to use. Just use a small knife to slice your vanilla beans lengthwise. Then, with the back of the knife, scrape along the inside of the pod.
You’ll use the scraped part in your dessert; the pod can be discarded or saved for another use.
Did you make this vanilla bean cheesecake? Yay! Leave me a comment and rating below! And post a pic on Instagram. Tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see!
This vanilla bean cheesecake is a smooth, creamy, and decadent dessert. It's the perfect show-stopping dessert for holidays or any day!
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces white chocolate finely chopped
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 8-ounce packages full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 vanilla beans sliced and scraped*
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Wrap a 9-inch springform pan with three layers of aluminum foil. Spray the pan with cooking spray and set pan aside.
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan.
- Set pan aside.
- Combine the white chocolate and heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat the mixture in 15-second intervals with microwave set to 50% power. Stir after each interval until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
- Set aside to cool slightly while you proceed with the filling.
- Place the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the sugar and beat well.
- Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the scraped vanilla beans, vanilla, and salt.
- Slowly beat in the white chocolate-cream mixture until fully combined. Use a rubber spatula to stir up from the bottom of the bowl several times, making sure everything is properly mixed.
- Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top.
- Pour a half-inch of water into a roasting pan (or any large rimmed baking pan) and carefully place the pan in the oven.
- Set the cheesecake in the middle of the pan. Bake 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours, until just the center of the cheesecake jiggles when you tap the pan.
- Remove cheesecake from the oven and cool to room temperature. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- When you’re ready to serve, make the topping.
- Beat the heavy cream until if begins to thicken. Add the powdered sugar and beat to stiff peaks, then mix in the vanilla. (The cream is at stiff peaks if you can pull the beaters out and the cream holds its shape rather than collapsing on itself.)
- Spread or pipe over the cheesecake. Slice and serve. (I serve mine with fresh raspberries and it’s delicious.)
- Uneaten cheesecake can be stored, covered, in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. Slices can also be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months.
- *Slice your vanilla beans lengthwise with a small paring knife. Use the back of the knife to scrape out the inside; the scraped part is what you’ll add to your cheesecake filling. Discard the outer pod or save for another use.
- When I do a water bath for my cheesecakes, I like to leave the water bath in the oven until it’s completely cooled so if I accidentally spill the water I don’t get burned.
- The cheesecake needs to chill overnight, so be sure to plan ahead.
This recipes calls for a 9-inch springform but you can substitute a 10-inch springform pan. If you do, reduce the baking time to 90 minutes.
- Make sure that you beat your cream cheese thoroughly so your filling isn’t lumpy; be sure your cream cheese is fully at room temperature as well, so it’s easier to eliminate the lumps.