The secret to a super-creamy cheesecake that’s not cracked on top just like those you get at The Cheesecake Factory—is baking the cheesecake in a water bath. You will need a 10-inch springform cake pan for this recipe and another pan that is larger than the springform pan to hold some water for the cheesecake to sit in while it bakes. This cheesecake has vanilla bean seeds throughout every layer, so you will need three vanilla bean pods. Those vanilla beans can be pricey at around 5 bucks per pod, but you’re cloning a cheesecake that at the restaurant costs around 50 bucks for a whole 10-inch cake. Even when you figure in the other ingredients, you’re still gonna pay less by making your own home knockoff. And any leftovers will freeze well for a month or two.

11 ounces (1 box) Nilla wafers
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

24 ounces (3 8-ounce pkgs.) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
⅓ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Seeds scraped from 1½ vanilla beans

8 ounces (1 pkg.) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
2 large egg yolks
¾ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons water
2¼ cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

½ teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 teaspoons water
1¼ cups heavy cream
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Seeds scraped from ½ of a vanilla bean

Extra creamy canned whipped cream

Cooking method

1-Line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. Lightly butter the pan to make the paper stick. Wrap a sheet of aluminum foil around the outside of the springform pan so that the water cannot get into the pan when it is submerged in the water bath in the oven.

2-Make the crust by pulverizing the cookies into crumbs using a food processor or blender, or crushing them by hand in a bag with a kitchen mallet. Mix the melted butter with the Nilla wafer crumbs and press the mixture into the bottom of the lined pan. Place the pan in your freezer until you are ready to fill it.

3-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a pan that is larger than the springform pan with ½ inch of water and place it in the center of the oven.

4-Make the cheesecake filling by combining the cream cheese with the sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. When the mixture is smooth add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Slice the vanilla beans in half and use the edge of a knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the cream cheese and mix well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour all of the filling into the springform pan. Smooth the top with a spatula, then gently place the pan in the water bath in the oven and bake for 70 minutes or until the top is light brown.

5-Cool the cheesecake, then set it in your refrigerator while you make the vanilla bean mousse.

6-Make the vanilla bean mousse by placing a saucepan that is half full of water over medium heat. Use an electric mixer to whip together the cream cheese, egg yolks, and sugar in a metal bowl. Place this bowl over the pan of hot water, stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot, about 5 minutes. Place the hot bowl into another bowl filled with ice to cool it down while you whip the cream. Combine the gelatin with the water in a small bowl and quickly pour the mixture (before it solidifies) into the cream in a medium bowl and stir it. Add the vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds and whip the cream with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream in several batches into the cooled cream cheese/egg yolk mixture. Spread it over the top of the cheesecake. Chill for 3 hours.

7-After the cheesecake has cooled for 3 hours, make the whipped cream by combining the gelatin with the water in a small bowl and quickly pouring it into the cream along with the sugar, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds in a large bowl. Whip with an electric mixer until the cream forms stiff peaks, then spread the whipped cream over the top of the cheesecake. Allow the cake to set for another hour, then remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and slice it into 12 portions to serve.

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