This Clementine Vanilla Bean Cheesecake is a show stopping dessert that features sweet clementines, a creamy vanilla bean base, and a chocolate cookie crust! It is made for special occasions, like the holidays. Creamy and decadent with a bright citrus flavor – it’s really quite special.
For the Crust:
- 2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafers
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
- 4 (8-oz) packages full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup full-fat sour cream
- Zest of 4 clementines (roughly 2 tablespoons zest)
- Juice of 1 clementine (roughly 2 tablespoons juice)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- Dehydrated orange slices (optional – for decoration more than anything. See recipe below)
- Whipped cream
For the Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place roughly 30 chocolate wafers in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the machine until fine crumbs form.
- With the machine running, slowly stream in the melted butter. Run until all the crumbs are moistened by the butter and beginning to clump together.
- Generously spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray on the bottom and sides. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper (I do one round piece for the bottom and a thin strip that runs around the sides). Spray the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray.
- Press the crumb mixture into the pan, firmly packing it to form the crust. It should fully cover the bottom of the pan and up a little bit on the sides of the pan.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you finish prepping the rest of the cheesecake.
For the Filling:
- Set a kettle or pot of water on to boil.
- While the crust is baking, make the filling by combining the blocks of cream cheese in a stand mixer (alternatively, you can mix it in a bowl with a hand mixer). Beat the cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. It’s important to thoroughly cream the cream cheese before adding the other ingredients – it makes for a silky smooth filling.
- After the cream cheese is smooth, stir it with a spatula to remove any excess air that may have been incorporated. Excess air can cause your cheesecake to crack during baking.
- Beat in the sugar, cornstarch, salt, sour cream, clementine juice and zest, and vanilla until smooth. Again, scrape down the sides and stir the mixture with a spatula to remove excess air.
- Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, and beat after each addition until the filling is smooth and creamy.
- Take your spatula and once again stir the batter a few times, taking out any excess air that may have been incorporated.
- Baking the Cheesecake:
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and place a large baking dish on the bottom rack of the oven. Carefully pour the boiling water (I find that using a kettle for this is easiest) into the baking dish and close the oven door.
- Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust and smooth out the top. Rap the pan gently on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles in the filling.
- Transfer the cheesecake to the oven, setting it on the middle rack above the baking dish with water, and close the door quickly so that all the moisture does not escape.
- Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the cheesecake is puffed and set around the edges and has a slight jiggle in the center when you shake the pan. It will be golden brown on top because of the caramel in the filling. Start checking it around 1 hour (all ovens are different and actual cooking time may vary a bit). If it is not done, keep baking in 15-minutes increments, checking after each for doneness.
- Turn off the oven and crack open the oven door. Allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven with the door open for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Once it is cool, transfer the cheesecake to the oven for a minimum of 4 hours (longer is actually better – I prefer to do it overnight).
- Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and gently and carefully remove the collar from the springform pan. Peel off any parchment paper that may be sticking to the cheesecake.
- Arrange dollops of whipped cream on the top and decorate with dehydrated orange slices (all optional).
- Slice with a very sharp knife and serve.
For the Optional Dehydrated Orange Slices:
- Preheat the oven to 200°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice one medium orange into thin rounds and line up in an even layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 2-3 hours or until the oranges are dehydrated and crisp – they will continue to crisp as they cool down.
- Using full-fat dairy and room temperature ingredients will ensure that your filling mixes together easily and smoothly – this results in a creamy cheesecake.
- All the steps outlined in the baking section are important. We want to gradually cool down the cheesecake – this reduces the chance of the cheesecake cracking. We don’t want the filling to seize from the drastic drop in temperature. Opening the oven door for 1 hour allows it to gradually and gently cool. The subsequent steps continue the gradual cool-down process. Cheesecake is not a baked good that can be rushed – so make sure you allot enough time for cooling.
- Leftover cheesecake will keep in the fridge for up to a week. I also have frozen individual slices with great results.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours (plus chilling time)
- Category: cheesecake
Keywords: Clementine Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, clementine cheesecake, orange and chocolate cheesecake, clementine cheesecake with chocolate crust, winter citrus cheesecake