White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Here we go. This post is a big one for me.

I want to promise you something. It’s something that I probably shouldn’t be promising you, but I’m doing it anyway.

Here’s my promise: if you follow my directions below, word for word, with not one substitution, alteration, or modification, the end result will be a perfectly-dense, flavorful, colorful, white chocolate raspberry cheesecake without a sunken center or a single crack.

Phew. That’s a mouthful.

Until this weekend, I’d never made a real cheesecake. Mini Reese’s cheesecakes don’t count. Knowing that I wanted to make a special dessert for Valentine’s Day 2011, and remembering my brand new springform pan that we received as a wedding gift, I decided that now was the time (now was the TIME!) to give it a go. Deep breath. Cheesecakes can be a horror. I’ve seen the pictures, read the articles, feared the worst. Deep breath.

So, I did my research. I found a top-rated recipe, I read articles on the “correct way to bake a cheesecake,” and I typed up a new recipe for myself so that step-by-step, I would create a perfect cheesecake.

After our Valentine’s dinner, Brett immediately asked, “can we have cheesecake now?” (I’d been showing it to him all day, saying “Look! No cracks!!!”) I carefully cut out two slices and shaved a bit of white chocolate over each one. This was a big moment. We each took a bite and….

….MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

I was so proud, I could have cried! I am also so convinced that cheesecake should not intimidate the average home cook – following the right steps and using the right ingredients, the same result can be achieved by anyone.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake – adapted from Allrecipes.com “White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake”

2 C oreo crumbs, crushed (food processor works best)
1 TBS sugar
1/4 C butter, melted
1/2 of a 10-oz jar seedless red raspberry preserves*
2 C white chocolate chips
1/2 C half-and-half cream
3 (8-oz) pkgs cream cheese**
1/3 C white sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp real vanilla extra
white chocolate squares or fresh raspberries for garnish

*I spent several minutes looking for these preserves at Dillions and the only brand I could find was Dickinson’s Pure Seedless Cascade Mountain Red Raspberry Preserves. This stuff is GOOD, so smooth and so full of flavor.

**If your cream cheese is anything other than room temperature, you will have clumps of cream cheese in your batter. These cannot be removed! I’ve read that some chefs leave their cream cheese out overnight. I found about 4-5 hours to be sufficient.

1. In a medium bowl, mix oreo crumbs, 1 TBS sugar and butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. In a large bowl using a hand-mixer, or using a Kitchenaid stand mixer, beat cream cheese for a few seconds until smooth. Add 1/3 C sugar and beat several more seconds. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined. Let mixture rest while doing the next step.

3. In a small bowl, mix white chocolate chips with half and half. Microwave 30 seconds. Stir well. Microwave another 20 seconds. Stir until the mixture is almost melted. Microwave another 5 seconds if needed. Warning: if you get greedy and microwave the chocolate longer, rather than patiently stirring and letting it slowly melt, you will burn your chocolate and I will not feel sorry for you!!!

4. Preheat oven to 325. Add melted chocolate and vanilla to cream cheese mixture and mix until just combined. Pour half of cream cheese mixture over oreo crust.

5. Place several TBS of raspberry preserves into a small bowl and microwave 20 seconds until smooth and runny. Drizzle over first layer of cheesecake.

6. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan – don’t worry if it messes up the raspberry preserves, it will taste the same! Microwave 2 more tablespoons of raspberry preserves and carefully drizzle over the top of the cheesecake. Using a knife, swirl batter to create a marbled effect.

7. Now, grab a large cookie sheet with raised sides (known as a jelly roll pan.) Place two large pieces of foil onto the pan – one horizontal, one vertical, to create a cross. Now place your cheesecake pan on top of this cross, and wrap the cheesecake pan very well with the foil. The reason for this is that we’re about to fill the cookie sheet with water and we want to ensure that no water seeps into our springform pan.

8. Before filling the pan with water, go ahead and place everything on the lower rack of your oven. Now, using a cup or a turkey baster, fill the cookie sheet pan with about an inch of water. (the hard way would be filling the pan with water BEFORE placing in the oven, and then you’ve got to carry a pan full of water!)

9. Bake 60 minutes at 325. Turn oven OFF. Leave the oven door CLOSED and let cheesecake sit for 60 minutes. Remove cheesecake and let it sit on your counter for about a half-hour. Place cheesecake in fridge for at least 6 hours.

10. For perfect slices, cut cheesecake with a hot, wet knife. Garnish as you please. Savor your hard work!!!



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