Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guilty Pleasure - White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Making it, not eating it.  Sadly, my mum long ago forbade me to make cheesecake as there were few recipes that made a reasonably-sized cake.  With all the obsession about being overweight and needing to lose a few pounds, a giant cake that weighed more than a kilo had no home in our freezer.  No matter how beautiful or how long it took to make or, especially, how delicious it was, no space in the freezer.

Then my lovely boyfriend came to visit me, flying in from all the way across the country.

Sorry about the bad indoor lighting!  I'm still working on correcting for the yellow light.

When a guest comes, there are exceptions and I am one happy baker.  I am allowed hours in the kitchen, giant messes all over counters and floors (as long as it's cleaned up, and the pup doesn't lick up any chocolate), any and all available utensils in the house and any ingredient I can get my hands on.  This one required several days of ingredient collection, half a day of baking and a full day of refrigeration as well as a severe dose of patience and self-control, but in the end, I think it was worth it.  

If the 7 Deadly Sins were in food form, cheesecake fills the position of Lust.  The batter was smooth and creamy in addition to being sweet, tangy and delicious.  Once it was baked and chilled, the luscious batter transformed into a soft and silky custard punctuated with tart raspberries atop a sweet vanilla sponge cake.  My only change would be to strain the raspberries before using.  Both my dad and boyfriend noticed that the seeds were crunchy interruptions in an otherwise perfect cake, miniature cracks and all.

Isn't it pretty?  The top browned too much, miniature cracks formed over the entire top, for hours I feared a soggy sponge crust, raspberry seeds poked into every bite, my improvised water bath failed and I could barely get the springform sides off without severely denting the cake.  And yet, I feel so very fulfilled.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake 
from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook by Alan Rosen and Beth Allen

Sponge Cake

cup sifted cake flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 extra-large eggs, separated
cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 drops almond extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1 large mixing bowl
2 medium mixing bowls
1 electric mixer, handheld or stand, with all speeds working 
1 balloon whisk
1 rubber spatula
 cup dry measure
1 teaspoon measure
 teaspoon measure
9" round springform pan with 3" high sides
Aluminum foil to wrap the outside of the pan
About 2 teaspoons of softened butter, enough to grease the inside of the pan


1. Wrap the outside of the 9" round springform pan in foil and grease the inside with softened butter.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. In the medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3. In the other medium bowl, beat the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of the sugar on medium speed until pale yellow and thick, to the point of forming ribbons when you lift the beater.  Reduce the speed to low and beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.

4. Wash the beaters very thoroughly.  In the large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until thick and frothy.  Slowly add the rest of the sugar while the mixer is going.  Increase the speed to high and beat until the meringue forms stiff, glossy peaks.

5. Lightly fold the flour mixture into the egg yolks, until there are no streaks of flour remaining.  Stir in the melted butter.

6. Briskly fold about a third of the egg whites into the egg yolks and flour to lighten the mixture.  Then carefully fold it into the rest of the egg whites, trying not to deflate the egg whites too much.  

7. Spread the batter in the bottom of the pan.  Bake the cake for about 10-12 minutes.  It bakes very quickly, so be careful not to let it brown.  Remove the cake when it is a light golden color.

Cheesecake Batter

10 ounces frozen raspberries, unsweetened, thawed and drained
5 tablespoons cornstarch
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
pounds full-fat cream cheese (3 8-oz packages), room temperature
1 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
cup heavy whipping cream
About 6 ounces fresh raspberries for garnish
White chocolate curls for garnish

1 food processor if available, otherwise a fork and a small bowl
1 strainer for raspberry puree
1 double boiler, improvised double boiler or a small bowl and microwave 
1 rubber spatula
1 large bowl
1 electric mixer WITH WORKING LOW SPEED
1 small teaspoon for dropping raspberry puree into cheesecake batter
1 small knife for swirling puree
1 large pan, at least 13" in diameter with 3" high sides if you can get it (for water bath)


1. Process the 10 ounces of raspberries, or mash with a fork.  Strain out the seeds, then combine with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.

Oops.  The seeds.

2. Melt the white chocolate in the double boiler (or alternative), stirring constantly if you can and allow to cool to room temperature.

Stir to make the lumps go away.

3. In the large bowl, beat at low speed 1 package (8 oz.) of the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth and creamy.  No lumps!  Beat in the vanilla, then the rest of the cream cheese one block at a time.  Beat in the eggs, making sure one is fully incorporated before adding the other.  You will likely scrape the bowl down several times.

4. Stir in the melted white chocolate, then the heavy whipping cream.  Spend a few minutes using the rubber spatula to admire the silky batter.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

It's a lovely mixture :) Now go turn the oven back on.   

5. Place the 9" pan with crust inside in the roasting pan.  Add water to the pan outside of the 9" pan until it comes about halfway up the sides.  You want to be baking the cheesecake in a sauna of moist heat to keep the cheesecake cooking evenly.

6. Pour about half of the lovely cheesecake batter into the 9" pan.  Carefully spoon about half the raspberry puree on top of the batter, pushing the puree gently into the cake leaving plenty of white spots in the batter.  Carefully and evenly spoon the rest of the cheesecake batter on top of the raspberry puree, then again spoon the rest of the raspberry puree on top.  Look at the cheesecake and decide approximately where your swirls will go.  Using a small knife, draw deep figure 8s in the batter until the top of the cake is marbled.  Do not swirl too much and turn the cake pink.  

Swirl, not too much...  Try to avoid having the raspberry touch the pan, since it will stick.

7. Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  It will be done when the top is golden with light brown edges.  The center will just barely wiggle.  Watch the cheesecake carefully!  Once the cake is deemed to be done, take it out of the oven and let it sit for 2 hours.  DO NOT DISTURB!  Moving the cake or allowing it to sit in a draft might make it crack or fall.  Allow the cake to come to room temperature before removing the springform sides.  Once it has done so, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.  Cheesecakes freeze well and are delicious frozen, but do take care to slice before you freeze.  They become rock-hard until refrigerated back into soft and creamy compliance.  Cheesecakes can be served cool, fresh out of the fridge or eaten with your hands straight from the freezer.  Enjoy!  :)

Mmmm... Cheesecake....

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