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I’ve been taking this Perfect Vanilla Cheesecake to Thanksgiving Dinner on my husband’s side of the family every year since the first year I was invited (in high school!) I’m actually convinced that it’s what won them over.
So when my friends at Bahlsen approached me to develop a Thanksgiving recipe for them, I knew EXACTLY what I would be making. But just to make sure I was making the right decision, I asked my husband, “When you think of Thanksgiving desserts, what comes to mind?” Without missing a beat he replied, “Cheesecake.” Done and done.
How to Make Perfect Vanilla Cheesecake
First up is the cookie crust. Bahlsen Dark Choco Leibniz are beyond perfect for this. They are crispy and buttery and dipped in some pretty amazing European dark chocolate. (You can totally swap this for the milk chocolate variety if dark chocolate isn’t your thing!”
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the cookies in your food processor or blender until they become a fine crumb. *PRO TIP – when grinding chocolate covered cookies, pop them in the freezer for 15 minutes first to get a good fine grind and not a paste.
In a medium bowl, stir together the crushed cookies, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt. I used 3 boxes of Dark Choc Leibniz to achieve an extra thick crust – totally NOT optional in my opinion! Using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup, press the crust into an even layer and up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes, then put it in the fridge to cool completely.
Next, let’s make the Perfect Vanilla Cheesecake filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the room temperature cream cheese for 5 minutes. This seems like a long time, but it will make your cheesecake extra smooth and ensure you have no lumps! Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl to make sure all of the cream cheese is getting attention!
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add it to the mixer and mix until combined. Add in the sour cream and vanilla, mix until combined. Last, add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is combined and there are no lumps. Mix a little longer if necessary.
Baking the cheesecake. How many times have you guys slaved over a cheesecake only to release it from the springform pan to see that the water bath leaked into your crust and its as soggy as ever? Ugh is there anything worse? We are 100% going to avoid that with this little trick. Grab a slow cooker liner and set the springform pan inside it. Bring the liner up all the way to the top of your pan and tie a knot. Then, wrap that whole situation in foil. Double Protection.
Pour the Perfect Vanilla Cheesecake batter into the crust and level it out using a rubber spatula. Rap it on the counter a couple of times to release air bubbles. If you want a cheesecake with no cracks, and no browned edges, a water bath is your best bet. I use my roaster pan, set the springform pan in the center, then pour water in using a liquid measuring cup. You want the water to come about 1/3 of the way up the springform pan. If you don’t have a roaster pan – other good options are disposable foil pans, or a large round cake pan.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake until set, about another 45 minutes. Start checking it around 30 minutes. When you wiggle the pan, the center of the cheesecake should wobble just slightly.
Turn off the oven, crack the oven door open, and leave the cheesecake in there for another hour. This helps the cheesecake come to room temperature very slowly and reduces the risk of cracks! After the hour is up, chill the cheesecake in the fridge until ready to serve. I always make the cheesecake the day before I want to serve it and let it chill overnight.
Decorating. Since this is an extra special dessert for Thanksgiving, I thought it deserved some extra special decorating. I made whipped chocolate ganache and piped it all around the edges of the cheesecake and then topped it with Bahlsen Waffel Minis Milk Chocolate. I mean how cute are those little guys!
Whipped chocolate ganache is so much easier than it sounds. It’s just chocolate and cream, then it’s whipped up with a hand mixer making it extra fluffy. It takes on a sort of buttercream texture and is pipe-able. And I guarantee that your family will be impressed when you walk into Thanksgiving dinner holding this bad boy.
To make the whipped chocolate ganache, start by measuring out your chocolate and cream. I made three varieties here – dark, milk, and white chocolate. For dark chocolate ganache – the ratio I use is 1 part dark chocolate to 1 part cream. For milk chocolate ganache – 2 parts milk chocolate to 1 part cream. For white chocolate ganache – 3 parts white chocolate to 1 part cream. I also like the weigh these ingredients vs. using measuring cups.
Put each variety of chocolate in separate bowls and then heat the cream until it’s almost boiling. Pour it over the chocolate and let it set for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth and let cool to room temperature. Once the chocolate is room temperature and has thickened up, beat it with a hand mixer until light and fluffy – about 2-3 minutes. Pick out your favorite piping tips and go to town. Or simply swirl it on top of the cheesecake with a rubber spatula if piping isn’t your jam.Print
The perfect vanilla cheesecake, buttery chocolate cookie crust, topped with whipped chocolate ganache.
For the Crust
- 3 Boxes (27 cookies) Bahlsen Dark Choco Leibniz
- 4 TBSP Unsalted Butter, melted
- 3 TBSP Light Brown Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Salt
For the Cheesecake filling
- 32 oz (4 Packages) Cream Cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 C Granulated Sugar
- 1/3 C All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2/3 C Sour Cream, at room temperature
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 3 Lg Eggs, at room temperature
For the Whipped Chocolate Ganache
- 60 grams Dark Chocolate
- 60 grams Heavy Cream
- 60 grams Milk Chocolate
- 30 grams Heavy Cream
- 60 grams White Chocolate
- 20 grams Heavy Cream
For the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Crush the cookies using a food processor or high powered blender
- Stir together the cookies with the remaining ingredients
- Press crust into springform pan
- Bake for 15 minutes, then cool completely in the fridge
For the Cheesecake Filling
- In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until smooth.
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a separate bowl, then add to the mixer and mix to combine.
- Add in the sour cream and vanilla, mix to combine.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, until combined.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything has been combined and there are no lumps.
- Wrap the springform pan with a slow cooker liner and then aluminum foil.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust, and place it in a water bath.
- Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, then lower the oven temp to 325 and bake until set – about another 45 minutes
- Allow to cool in the oven with the oven door cracked for 1 hour
- Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve
For the Whipped Chocolate Ganache
- Put the different varieties of chocolate in separate bowls.
- Separate out the cream per each variety of chocolate as well. Heat the cream until just before boiling.
- Pour over the chocolate and let set for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth.
- Let come to room temperature. Whip with hand mixer until light and fluffy – about 2-3 minutes.
- Pipe or spread onto top of cheesecake.
*It is very important to use room temperature ingredients when making cheesecake. I let the cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs sit on the counter for at least 3 hours before baking.
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