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Vanilla Cheesecake with Cherry Topping

Photo: Oxmoor House
Yield 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice cheesecake and about 2 tablespoons topping)
We use the entire vanilla bean, so none of it is wasted: The seeds flavor the cheesecake, and the bean halves flavor the topping.

Up to two months ahead: Both the cheesecake and the topping can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored separately in the refrigerator. Or make the cheesecake up to 2 months ahead and freeze. Before freezing, chill the cooled cheesecake in the pan for 2 hours; then wrap pan in a heavy-duty plastic wrap. Thaw the cheesecake in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

  • Crust:
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Cooking spray
  • Filling:
  • 3 (8-ounce) blocks fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 2 (8-ounce) blocks 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) carton fat-free sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Topping:
  • 2/3 cup tawny port or other sweet red wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 (10-ounce) bags frozen pitted dark sweet cherries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons water

Nutrition Information

  • calories 324
  • caloriesfromfat 30 %
  • fat 10.7 g
  • satfat 6.1 g
  • monofat 3.2 g
  • polyfat 0.7 g
  • protein 12.2 g
  • carbohydrate 42.8 g
  • fiber 1 g
  • cholesterol 83 mg
  • iron 0.8 mg
  • sodium 458 mg
  • calcium 134 mg

How to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.

  2. To prepare crust, combine first 3 ingredients, tossing with a fork. Add 2 teaspoons water; toss with a fork until moist and crumbly. Gently press mixture into bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

  4. To prepare filling, beat cheeses with a mixer at high speed until smooth. Combine 1 cup sugar, flour, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Add to cheese mixture; beat well. Add sour cream; beat well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; stir seeds into cheese mixture, reserving bean halves.

  5. Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan; bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around outside edge. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.

  6. To prepare topping, combine port, 1/2 cup sugar, cherries, and reserved vanilla bean halves in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until cherries are thawed and mixture is syrupy. Remove vanilla bean halves; discard.

  7. Combine juice, cornstarch, and 4 teaspoons water, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Stir cornstarch mixture into cherry mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 3 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened and shiny. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill. Serve over cheesecake.

Also appeared in: Oxmoor House, None, 2013, Cooking Light Lighten Up, America!;