Micah A. Leal
Active Time
30 Mins
Total
10 Hours, 45 Mins (Including 8 Hours Chilling)

In a world full of cheesecakes packed with store-bought cookies, candies, and a thousand over-the-top flavors, sometimes you can’t help but miss the simple flavor of a classic cheesecake.

We made our favorite vanilla bean cheesecake and decided to add one additional element to elevate the overall tangy-sweet experience—we brûléed the top of the cheesecake to create a glassy layer of caramelized sugar, just like a creme brûlée. The thin layer of hard sugar cuts beautifully under the pressure of a knife, so each slice maintains a crunchy layer of sugar on top of the cake itself. Our cheesecake recipe calls for sour cream to add lightness to the filling and to add a little more tang, thus preventing the cheesecake from tasting too sweet. This unconventional cheesecake is a blend of two classics that are beloved for their simplicity and decadence, and we think the marriage of the two makes for something really special.

How to Make It

Step 1

Make Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Add butter and stir until dry ingredients are equally hydrated. Spray a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray, and evenly press the graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan.

Step 2

Make Filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese on medium-high until fluffy and satiny. Add sour cream and beat to incorporate. Scrape down sides of bowl, add sugar, and beat on low until just incorporated, then beat on medium-high for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Once last egg is added, beat on medium-high for 2 minutes. Add flour and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl and add lemon juice and vanilla bean paste; mix for an additional minute.

Step 3

Pour Filling over Crust in prepared springform pan. Wrap bottom and sides of the outside of the pan with several layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place springform pan inside a large roasting pan, and fill the roasting pan with water so that it comes three-quarters of the way up the side of the pan. Carefully place roasting pan in oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off but do not open the oven, leaving the cheesecake to sit in the cooling oven for an additional 30 minutes. Gently lift springform pan out of roasting pan and remove aluminum foil from pan. Leaving the cheesecake in the springform pan, run an offset spatula or knife around the edge of the cake, being careful not to cut the cake. Allow cheesecake to cool on the counter for 45 minutes before refrigerating for 8 hours or overnight.

Step 4

Remove cheesecake from springform pan, sprinkle 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly across surface of cake. Use a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar on the surface by applying direct heat to the sugar until it takes on a light brown color, moving in small circles around the surface of the cake until it’s evenly caramelized. Allow to sit for 1 minute before adding another tablespoon of sugar on top of the first layer and repeat the caramelizing process. Allow to cool for 2 minutes before slicing and serving.

Chef's Notes

If you can’t find vanilla bean paste, simply use the seeds of 1 vanilla bean. You can use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract if you don’t have access to vanilla beans, but the seeds from the beans are preferable in this dessert.