Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Vanilla Bean Contest

A couple of months ago we were set a challenge to make something using Vanilla Beans (Supplied by Guild)
We had a lovely spread and a great variety of yummy foods.

The winner was Heather Cooling with a Baked Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with biscuit Crust and Salted Caramel Topping
4 cups Vanilla wine biscuit crumbs
1/2 cup flour
4 oz melted butter

2 lbs cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup milk

1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Salted Caramel:
1 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 cup cream
2 oz butter
1 tsp fleur de sel (plus 2 tsp more for optional garnish)

Press about 2 cups the crust into the bottom of the 9'” springform pan and then the rest up the sides of the pan to the top edge. You should use all of  the crust mix.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Put the milk in a small pot. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds inside. Put both into the pot with the milk. Heat the milk until it’s hot, but not boiling. Turn off the heat and let the vanilla and milk steep for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod and if it’s softened more by being in the milk, you may be able to scrape out more seeds. If so, whisk them into the milk.
Milk with vanilla bean

For the filling, put the cream cheese into a mixing bowl (I use a KitchenAid stand mixer, but you can use a hand mixer if you have one). Add in the sugar and beat until combined with the cream cheese and very smooth. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, and with the mixer on, slowly beat in the eggs one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Turn it on again and add in the milk with the vanilla beans, beat until it’s all combined and there are no lumps.

Mixing the cheesecake filling
Pour the filling into the pan with the crust. Place the pan on a cookie sheet lined with foil (sometimes the butter in the crust melts and runs from the pan).
Bake for 55 min-1 hour at 325 degrees until set but still soft and jiggly in the center.

While the cheesecake is cooking, mix together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla. When the cheesecake is done, remove from the oven for 10 minutes, but leave the oven on. After 10  min, spread the sour cream topping on the cheesecake and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove, place on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate before serving for at least 4 hours. The cheesecake can be made up to two days in advance.
Caramel topping:

In a small, heavy bottomed pot, melt the sugar with water. Cook over high heat until deep amber in color. Remove from heat, and carefully whisk in the cream (it will bubble up). Whisk in the butter, and if the caramel has cooled too much to melt the butter, return to a low heat and whisk until it is all incorporated. Whisk in the 1 tsp fleur de sel.
Allow the caramel to cool and pour over the top of the baked and cooled cheesecake. Garnish the top with flakes of fleur de sel.
Note; If you are making the cheesecake in advance, I recommend you save the salt garnish until right before serving because if refrigerated, the moisture in the refrigerator will melt the salt.

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