Lemon-Vanilla Cheescake

Lemon Cheescake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
15 graham crackers (3-by-5 inch)
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon coarse salt

2 ½ pounds bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
Finely grated zest from 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, split and the inner seeds scraped out
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

1 ½ cups sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 yellow ColorKitchen color packet (other colors can be substituted)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make crust: Butter a 9-by-3-inch springform pan. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers until fine crumbs form; add melted butter, sugar, and salt, and pulse to combine. Press crumb mixture firmly into bottom using the back of a measuring cup. Bake until set, 10-12 minutes; let cool. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

2. Set a kettle of water to boil. Make filling: Using a food processor, blend cream cheese and sugar till smooth. Add lemon zest and juice, and salt. Add the sticky inner seeds of the vanilla bean. (Stick vanilla bean pod in your sugar jar for vanilla scented sugar.) Add in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition. Add in sour cream.

3. Wrap entire underside of pan in foil. Use multiple sheets if you need. Make sure the foil is very secure. Pour in filling; place in a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven. Gently pour in boiling water to come halfway up side of springform. Bake until just set in center, about 1 ¾ hours. Remove pan from water.

4. Whisk the sour cream and sugar together. Then put about ⅓ cup of the mix into a separate bowl and add ColorKitchen color, after mixing with ¼ -½ tsp glycerin or water to dissolve. 

5. Cover the top of the warm cheesecake with the white sour cream mix. Spread smooth. Put the colored sour cream into a pastry bag or a small ziplock bag with the corner cut off. Pipe the mixture into small lines across the entire top of the cheesecake. Then, using a butter knife, begin dragging the knife through the lines in the opposite direction. 

6. Place the cheesecake, without water, back into the oven for 10 minutes to set the topping. Let the cheesecake cool completely. Run a paring knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen from pan. Refrigerate till completely cold. Once chilled, carefully remove the edge of the springform pan. Use a spatula to smooth sides of cheesecake. Keep cheesecake covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for 5 days.

- Recipe by chef Rose Archer