Recipes from Cooking Light Lighten Up, America! by Allison Fishman Task

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Vanilla Cheesecake with Cherry Topping

We use the entire vanilla bean, so none of it is wasted: The seeds
flavor the cheesecake, and the bean halves flavor the topping.

  • Yield: 16 servings (serving size:
         1 slice cheesecake and about 2 tablespoons topping)


  • Crust:
  • 3/4
         cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4
         cup sugar
  • 2
         tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2
         teaspoons water
  • Cooking
  • Filling:
  • 3
         (8-ounce) blocks fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 2
         (8-ounce) blocks 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1
         cup sugar
  • 3
         tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4
         teaspoon salt
  • 1
         (8-ounce) carton fat-free sour cream
  • 4
         large eggs
  • 2
         teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1
         vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Topping:
  • 2/3
         cup tawny port or other sweet red wine
  • 1/2
         cup sugar
  • 2
         (10-ounce) bags frozen pitted dark sweet cherries
  • 2
         tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4
         teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4
         teaspoons water


Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare crust, combine first 3 ingredients, tossing with a fork. Add
2 teaspoons water; toss with a fork until moist and crumbly. Gently press
mixture into bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan coated
with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

To prepare filling, beat cheeses with a mixer at high speed until
smooth. Combine 1 cup sugar, flour, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Add to
cheese mixture; beat well. Add sour cream; beat well. Add eggs, 1 at a time,
beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract. Scrape seeds from
vanilla bean; stir seeds into cheese mixture, reserving bean halves.

Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan; bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15
minutes or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Remove
cheesecake from oven; run a knife around outside edge. Cool to room
temperature. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.

To prepare topping, combine port, 1/2 cup sugar, cherries, and reserved
vanilla bean halves in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or
until cherries are thawed and mixture is syrupy. Remove vanilla bean halves;

Combine juice, cornstarch, and 4 teaspoons water, stirring with a whisk
until well blended. Stir cornstarch mixture into cherry mixture; bring to a
boil. Reduce heat; simmer 3 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened and
shiny. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill. Serve over