Imagine this: the classic flavor of Vanilla Bean Cheesecake in a grab and go mason jar container with only 30 minutes of baking time. Taylor and I used our master cheesecake recipe and customized it three ways. We made chocolate ganache topped cookie dough, almond butter amaretto dulce de leche and white chocolate raspberry cheesecakes in under an hour!
This does not mean we sacrificed luscious cheesecake texture and quality for a reduced preparation and baking time. Using cream cheese, sour cream and eggs that are room temperature will give your cheesecakes a velvety texture. Mixing the granulated sugar with part of the cream cheese until it is well-blended and then adding the remainder of the cream cheese makes these cheesecakes extra creamy. Lastly, the cheesecake jars are baked in a water bath (bain-marie). The steam from the water keeps the cheesecakes moist and the constant temperature of the water makes for a crack-free and uniformly cooked dessert.
Have fun with this recipe! One batch makes 12 half-pint servings. The cheesecake is delicious plain or with whipped cream. You can add all sorts of cookie dough, sprinkles, fresh or preserved fruits and candies. If you are having a gathering, put toppings out and let guests make their own customized cheesecake. While the cakes bake, enlist some help cleaning up and then you can all speculate on which flavor combinations will be the most inviting!
Mason Jar Vanilla Bean Cheesecakes
12 half-pint jars
4 (8oz. each) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 vanilla bean
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
4 large eggs plus 1 yolk, beaten together
12 wide mouth, half-pint Mason jars
Optional Custom Flavors:
(egg-free chocolate chip dough, mini chocolate chips, chocolate ganache)
(almond butter, amaretto, dulce de leche, toasted almond, Maldon sea salt)
(white chocolate chips, fresh raspberries, seedless raspberry jelly)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Adjust the baking rack so that it is in the center of the oven. Line the bottom of 2 (9X13) inch baking pans with a layer of paper towels. Place 6 jars in each pan. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and keep at a simmer while you make the cheesecake batter.
2. Put one (8oz.) brick of cream cheese into the work bowl of a standing mixer. Turn the mixer to medium low and beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the granulated sugar and mix on medium low until the sugar and cream cheese are well-blended. Add the vanilla and almond extract and continue to beat the cream cheese at medium low speed. Split the vanilla bean in half length-wise with a small knife. Using the back side of the the knife blade, scrape the seeds and pulp from the vanilla bean. Add this to the cream cheese mixture. Save the pods of the vanilla bean for another use (eg. making vanilla, custards). Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Return the mixer speed to medium low and add the remaining cream cheese in 3 batches, scraping down the sides of the mixer after each addition. Add the sour cream and beat the batter on medium low until well-blended. Turn the mixer speed to low. Add the beaten eggs in 4 stages, mixing until the eggs are just blended into the batter after each addition. Turn the mixer off. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Remove the lids from the jars. Put half of the cheesecake batter (divided evenly) into the Mason jars. Add toppings to the cheesecake jars, if desired. Divide the remaining batter evenly between the 12 jars. Fill each baking pan with simmering water. The water should rise halfway up the sides of the mason jars.
4. Bake the cheesecakes for 30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven. Remove the cheesecakes from the oven and let them sit in the pan until the temperature of the water bath has cooled to room temperature. Remove the cheesecakes from the pans. Top with ganache, caramel, fruits, etc., if desired. You may eat the cheesecake room temperature, or, put lids on the jars and chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator until service.