I’ve been on a homemade cooking kick for the past two weeks. It’s been great. I tend to cook more when I’m stressed and it really helps me relax.
The star of our last meal (according to my husband) was this cheesecake. We’re huge cheesecake fans, and I was craving a piece. Whenever we go to Chicago we make sure to stop at The Cheesecake Factory. My perennial favorite there is the Vanilla Cheesecake. It’s simple but amazing.
This cheesecake has a vanilla bean base with a layer of fluffy white chocolate mousse and a topping of real whipped cream. Instead of a graham cracker crust, I used sugar cookies. It was accidental – I looked in the pantry and realized we didn’t have enough graham crackers. I was going to go to the store when my dear husband pointed to the cookie jar and suggested the leftover sugar cookies we had. It was a great decision – it adds an extra vanilla kick and has a sweet and crunchy finish.
I adapted this recipe from Amy in the Kitchen. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
- 5-6 Large Sugar Cookies, Finely Crushed (or about 1.5 cups)
- 3 sticks butter
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup white sugar
- 20 ounces of cream cheese (2.5 packs)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 whole vanilla bean
- 4 ounces of white chocolate
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
This recipe is done in stages since both the cheesecake and the toppings need to be made separately.
- For the cheesecake filling – Soften 16 ounces of cream cheese and two sticks of butter, add the sugar and beat on high until smooth and fluffy. Add the sour cream, vanilla bean, and cornstarch. Beat on high until smooth and fully incorporated. I found it best to add the cornstarch in via a sifter so there would be no lumps. Set the filling aside.
- For the sugar cookie crust – melt one stick of butter and add to the crushed cookies along with the egg and brown sugar. Press the cookie mixture into a springform pan lined with parchment paper. Bake the crust for 12 minutes at 320 degrees. Set it aside and let it cool.
- After the crust has cooled, add the cheesecake filling and smooth the top. Bake for one hour at 320 degrees, Don’t worry – the center may still be a little soft. It’ll firm up in the fridge. After it is cooked, place it in the fridge overnight. Your patience will be rewarded!
- For the white chocolate mousse layer – melt 4 ounces of white chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. Set it aside. Beat one cup of heavy cream until stiff – like the texture of Cool Whip. Add in the powdered sugar, and 4 ounces of softened cream cheese. Add the melted white chocolate and beat on high until smooth and fluffy. Place in the fridge overnight.
- For the whipped cream layer (my favorite!) – simply beat one cup of heavy cream until stiff. Add a touch of granulated sugar if you like, but I love it as is – the rich cream adds a wonderful contrast to the sugary vanilla. Place in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, first layer the cheesecake base with the white chocolate mousse. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so, then add the whipped cream layer. I stuck it back in the fridge at this point so the layers would firm up, but if you can’t wait, dig in!