This vanilla brown butter cheesecake is simple in ingredients, but it has fantastic flavor. If you have followed me for a while, you know I am somewhat obsessed with brown butter (see my recipes for brown butter shortbread, brown butter cookies, pumpkin bread with brown butter icing, and pasta with mushrooms, brown butter and sage). It is hard to describe the depth of flavor you get with browned butter. It is subtle, but it makes a big impact too.
This is a fairly standard cheesecake recipe with a few key points. The graham cracker crust has both ground up pecans, and brown butter in it. The filling has typical cream cheese, sour cream and eggs with the addition to vanilla bean paste and the brown bits from brown butter.
This cheesecake is super smooth and delicious. A couple tips for having your cheesecake come out beautiful and smooth. First, make sure the ingredients are room temp before mixing together. Second, put the filling through a fine mesh strainer after you mix, so that any small lumps get removed. Third, bake in a water bath (be sure to put 2 layers of foil around your springform pan so water doesn’t get in). Fourth, let the cheesecake rest in the turned off oven for 30 minutes before removing to avoid cracking. Cheesecake is done when the center is still a little jiggly but the edges are set and the top is matte. It should be 150 degrees in the center with an instant read thermometer. This is the best way to make sure your cheesecake isn’t overcooked. I didn’t make the whipped cream topping because I didn’t feel like it needed it, but it would be good with it too.
Vanilla Brown Butter Cheesecake
For the crust:
- 1/2 cup browned butter
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup pecans ground up
For the filling:
- 2 8oz packages cream cheese room temp
- 4 tbsp browned butter the bottom part with most of the browned bits
- 1/2 cup sour cream room temp
- 2 large eggs room temp
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the whipped cream (optional):
- 1 cup cream
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
For the butter:
- Place all the butter in a sauce pan and heat over medium, swirling occasionally until it bubbles and pops and then starts to brown. You want it a deep golden but don't burn it or it will get bitter. Split the butter up into the crust portion and filling portion, keeping the bottom with the brown bits for the filling.
For the crust:
- Heat oven to 350. Grind the pecans into a fine grind. Combine with graham crumbs and add the butter and mix until it sticks together when you grab a handful.
- Press into a 9 inch springform pan up the sides and in the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes until golden. Lower oven to 300.
For the filling:
- Blend cream cheese, sugar and salt in a stand mixer until smooth. Add the butter and vanilla and sour cream and blend until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing in between and blend until smooth. Press through a fine mesh strainer and into the crust, smoothing the top.
- Place the springform in two layers of foil and wrap up the sides. Place in a larger pan that can hold a few inches of water. Place in the oven and fill the larger pan with a few inches of hot water.
- Bake until the center is still slightly jiggly but the edges are set and the top is matte looking. It should not be solid all the way through or it will be overcooked. It is done when an instant read thermometer in the center reads 150.
- Crack the oven, turn it off, and let the cheesecake sit for 30 minutes before removing from oven. Remove pan from the water and place on a cooling rack until fully cooled then refrigerate at least 6 hours, overnight is better, before serving.