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.
Cooking Light NOVEMBER 2002
Preheat oven to 400°.
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.
Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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