Not an actual vanilla pod with seeds, but a spoonful of vanilla bean paste flavors this vanilla bean cheesecake giving it those signature tiny bean specs.
Non-stick cooking spray
48 graham crackers (12 full sheets)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons + 1–1/2 cups granulated sugar
1–1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1–1/2 lemons)
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sour cream
Fresh berries and confectioners’ sugar for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a food processor, crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and 2 tablespoons sugar and process until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Press into the bottom and about 1-inch up the sides of the pan.
Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and transfer to a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the remaining sugar and beat until combined, about 10-15 seconds. Add the eggs, lemon juice and vanilla bean paste, beating for 3-4 minutes until whipped and smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and finish mixing for 10-15 seconds.
Spread the filling into the crust. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan and fill with hot water so it goes about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake for 1-1/2 hours until the cake is set, but still wobbly in the center. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake remain inside the oven for 1-2 hours.
Transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack to continue cooling at room temperature for 1 hour. Cover and chill the refrigerator for 3-4 hours before serving.
Top with fresh berries and dust with confectioners’ sugar.