It is not the All-American cherry pie. But Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake has become the “go to” dessert for holidays at my house. If you come for a visit and I have time to prepare it, cheesecake might be waiting for you. It has taken six decades for me to consider the challenge of cheesecake and I am willing to share. With the right equipment to help me be successful and enough practice behind me, I think I have come up with a recipe to fulfill my craving for gluten free cheesecake. If you missed Part 1 of this journey, you can find it here.
Since the crust needs to be in the freezer before we add the filling, starting with the crust is essential. Prepare your pan with butter and parchment paper. Then use a food processor to crush the cookies. You could put them in a plastic bag and crush them to get the same results. Pressing the crumbs and butter into the prepared cheesecake pan works best when your fingers or spatula are coated with some butter. And of course, if you are not interested in a chocolate crust, you can easily use a vanilla sandwich cookie. Either way, this simple crust goes together “as smooth as butter”!
Cover the sides and bottom of the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil or place the cheesecake pan inside of a silicone pan. Place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes so the butter has time to solidify. It will take that long to make the Raspberry Swirl and prepare the filling.
I use a small food processor to puree the raspberries. A large one should give you the same results. While the recipe calls for 2 pints of fruit, I have found that I have to be careful about picking through the raspberries to find the best ones. Sometimes that means purchasing more than I end up using. But a little extra raspberry swirl to spread on the plate or drizzle on a slice of cheesecake is never a bad thing. Getting rid of the seeds is easy with a wire mesh strainer and a spatula. If the wire mesh is small enough, the seeds stay in the strainer while the pureed raspberries land in the bowl underneath. You might have to use the spatula to scrape the bottom of the strainer to get as much of the pulp as possible. It is worth the effort when you add the sweet fruit to each serving. Add 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar to the fruit and set it aside until the filling is ready to pour into the pan.
I have always melted chocolate in the microwave. But after sitting for a short time, it doesn’t stay melted. The credit for doing it a new way goes to Ghiardelli. I was skeptical at first because adding water to chocolate did not make sense to me. I am always willing to learn a new way of accomplishing a task, so I tried it and was happy with the result. It was also a more reliable way to melt the chocolate. Break up the chocolate into a small bowl. Heat 1/3 cup water in the microwave for 30-45 seconds or until boiling. Without stirring, pour the boiling water over the chocolate and cover the bowl. After 2 minutes and a few stirs, the chocolate is melted and ready to add to the filling.
All of the prep work is done and it is finally time to make the filling. Begin with the room temperature cream cheese. Mix it at medium low speed until it is creamy. If you use a high speed for any step of the filling, you will be adding air. That causes the filling to rise and then fall as it cools. A higher speed will give a more dense texture. If you want the filling to be creamy, use a lower speed and beat it for only one or two minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating. Scraping down the sides and the beater will ensure that all the lumps are gone. While it is mixing, add the chocolate. Scrape down the bowl and beaters again and lower the speed of the mixer.
Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. This is another step where it is very easy to add too much air. The eggs do not have to be completely mixed. Just a little light whisking with a fork will be enough. Add the eggs to the cream cheese in 4 additions using a low speed. It is not necessary to mix them in completely with each addition. See the yellow streaks in the photo below? That is when you add more eggs. Remove the bowl from the mixer and complete the final strokes with a spoon or spatula.
By now, your crust is well chilled and you can add 2/3 of the filling. Spread about half a cup of the raspberry swirl over the filling and use a knife to lightly mix it in. You want streaks of red to show when you slice the cheesecake so use gentle strokes to swirl it into the filling. Add the remaining filling on top.
Using a spoon, place dollops of raspberry swirl in a pattern across the top of the filling. A skewer or the tip of a sharp knife can be drawn through the dollops to create swirling hearts. Those pretty hearts are going to get covered up with whipped cream and more raspberries, but it looks pretty while it is baking!
Place the cheesecake in your bain-marie and let it bake for 65 to 70 minutes or until the sides are set and the middle jiggles like gelatin. I know it is a temptation to open the oven door and peek inside, but resist the urge. Leaving the door closed until the end of the baking time maintains an even temperature for this dessert. When done, turn the oven off; leave the oven door slightly open; and let it cool for one hour. Remove the cheesecake from the bain-marie. Take off the foil or silicone pan. Run a warm butter knife between the cheesecake and the sides of the pan. Then put it in the fridge to chill. Waiting is the hard part.
After a minimum of 4 hours, remove the sides of your pan while supporting the bottom with your hand. Slide a butter knife between the bottom of the pan and the parchment paper. The bottom should slide away. Still supporting the cheesecake with one hand, grab the edge of the parchment paper and peel it away from the bottom. The crust should be sturdy enough for you to handle the cheesecake without it falling apart.
Now you deserve a reward. You have worked hard and taken your time to do it right. Use a sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water ad then dried to cut a slice. Add some whipped cream, raspberry swirl, and grated chocolate. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!