First off, Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope you had the brightest of joy and blessings fill your house this season.
Okay, now to the business… this recipe is not quick and easy. It is also not cheap. So if you are looking for quick, cheap and easy cheesecake, THIS AIN’T IT. This recipe requires a couple days prep time, some elevated ingredients, patience and love. Singing and dancing are optional but fun and magic ingredients. 🙂
On the other hand, if you are as fascinated by fusing herbs into recipes as I am, love vanilla bean cheesecake, lavender or just, you know, LOVE CHEESECAKE, this is definitely a recipe for you! Light, fluffy whipped cream tops rich, creamy and decadent vanilla bean cheesecakey goodness all infused subtly with lavender essence and sprinkled with gorgeous lavender and vanilla bean sugar on top! It’s festive, different and magical, like you are.
You’ll need a springform pan like this or this (because it’s dang cute!). I used a 9 inch pan for this recipe. If you want to do a water bath, you’ll also need a roasting pan that will fit the springform pan inside of it. NB: I did not immerse in a water bath for this recipe. I did, however, put a casserole pan filled with water on the lowest rack of the oven underneath the cheesecake as it cooked.
You’ll want culinary lavender. Not all lavenders are equal!! I grow and dry my own culinary lavender, but you can find dried in a variety of places such as this or Mountain Rose Herbs. Just make sure it is one of the edible varieties of lavandula angustifolia such as Munstead, Hidcote, or Royal Velvet.The others tend to have a more camphor essence and taste kind of soapy (but are great for tinctures, soaps, oils etc.).
Let’s talk Vanilla, just for a sec. Vanilla comes in three distinct varieties: Mexican, Tahitian and Madagascar (or Bourbon). You can, of course use any kind you wish and can afford. Here’s the very slight differences: Vanilla originated from Mexico. Mexican vanilla beans have a nuanced, smooth flavor with a depth to it that few other vanillas can match. This variety is darker and richer than Madagascar vanilla and has a robust, intoxicating fragrance. It’s best used in recipes where vanilla is meant to play a starring role. Madagascar vanilla is the flavor we think of when we imagine what vanilla tastes like. It has moderate floral overtones and a pure flavor – straight, clean and uncomplicated. This vanilla is best used in baked goods where the flavor is meant to complement, not dominate, the dish. The Tahitian bean has a more cherry-like, floral, licorice taste. It tends to be deeper in color than vanilla from Mexico and Madagascar, but the flavor is more subtle. It’s nuanced and unique taste make it a great choice for dishes that use vanilla as its main flavor profile. I used Tahitian beans and Madagascar extract for this recipe.
For the crust:
- 1 2/3 cup (216g) crushed graham cracker crumbs
- 2 Tbsp (30g) granulated sugar
- 6 Tbsp (3 oz) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 24 oz. (3x 8oz. pkg)room temperature cream cheese
- 3 large organic, free-range eggs
- 3/4 cup of organic sugar + 1/4 c of lavender vanilla bean sugar (recipe follows)
- 3/4 cup (180g) sour cream
- 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
- seeds of two vanilla beans, scraped carefully from the pod (cut in half and slide the very tip of a small knife down the length of the pod)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Optional: 2 tsp. Lavender hydrosol (recipe to be found here when I post it) otherwise, you can buy it at Mountain Rose herbs. Hint: this intensifies your lavender flavor even more with another layer, so if you don’t want that, don’t use this. I used it in mine, and it was still nice and subtle enough for my picky husband.
For the Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup of lavender infused heavy whipping cream
- 3 tbsp. lavender sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Optional: A few tbsp. Blueberry-Pomegranate or Pomegranate juice or syrup for coloring (AFTER whipping)
For the Lavender sugar:
- 1 c. of organic cane sugar (it has larger crystals and is nice for sprinkling)
- 1 tsp. dried culinary lavender
- jar with lid
The day before you make this cake, you’ll want to make your sugar and get your cream infusing. To make the lavender sugar, place dried lavender in food processor and zip-zap until fine. Combine in jar in layers with sugar. Cap and shake well. Do the dance of Joy. Let sit. To infuse the cream, take the one cup of heavy cream and place in a jar with 1-2 tsp. of lavender buds. Cap and shake. Sing Florence and the Machine. Refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray or line (or both) your springform pan with parchment paper. If you are water bathing this pan, you will know to line it with foil and then parchment paper. OK? No soggy crusties for you!
- Make your crust by combining crumbs, butter and sugar with a fork in a bowl. Press crust into the bottom of the pan. Come up the side 1/2 inch if you like the crunchy corner on your cheesecake.
- Bake crust for 10 minutes and remove from oven to cool. Lower oven to 300 degrees.
- In a large mixer with a paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, heavy cream, lemon juice, sugars, extract (and hydrosol if you are using), and vanilla bean seeds. TIP: when scraping your seeds, it is much easier to just add them to the cream alone BEFORE you add them to your mixing bowl. This is a pro-tip learned from wasting half the bean seeds. You’re welcome.
- Pour filling into cooled crust pan.
- Bake at 300 degrees for 65 minutes. Increase temp to 325 and cook for an additional 10. It should still be jiggly in the very center. Gently shake pan to see. Hum or dance and Get Jiggy wid it! If it isn’t quite done. Turn off the oven and let sit for another 10. Hum the jeopordy tune.
- Once cooked, remove from oven and place on rack to cool. Do not release springform pan until completely cooled.
- Refrigerate at least 4 hours up to overnight.
- To make the whipped cream, strain (using a wire mesh strainer or cheesecloth) your infused cream into the chilled bowl of a stand mixer. Add your lavender sugar and vanilla. Beat with whisk attachment on high until soft peaks form. At this point, if you wish to add a little color flair to your cream, reduce speed and SLOWLY drizzle blueberry-pom juice 1 tsp. at a time. It will change to a very pale pinkish lavender color that will intensify as you add more. BUT DON’T add too much, or you’ll kabloosh your cream. It will be too thin. Increase speed until desired consistency is reached. Don’t make butter.
- Frost top of de-panned cheesecake with cream, or serve and then top. Sprinkle with lavender sugar.
- Commence blissful eating. Try to remember to use fork.
If you want a nice, festive and fruity drizzle for this, you can use the remaining juice you bought and reduce it down with some lavender (or regular) sugar into a nice syrup.
Et voila! C’est magnifique!