Friday, April 1, 2016

Two Fabulous New Cheesecakes

Happy April Fool's Day! Though there is no "fooling" around with these excellent recipes!

Cheesecakes are terribly rich. This is what makes them so exceptionally tasty, of course. So when I was asked to make two cheesecakes for Easter dinner I was surprised. Finding that there were to be three others besides, just blew me away. Granted, there were over 30 family and extended family there... so I was asked to make a cherry cheesecake and a blueberry cheesecake. In general, I prefer plain, unadorned cheesecake. Skip the cherry topping dripping down the sides. Skip any flavorings inside. 
Cherry Swirl and Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecakes
Cherry Swirl and Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecakes

That hasn't stopped me from occasionally making a really spectacularly flavored cheesecake. Check out either my Chestnut Cheesecake or my Dulce de Leche Turtle Cheesecake, in case you might wonder. So, when asked for cherry and blueberry cheesecakes, well, these are ones I had never attempted. 

I have a basic cheesecake I really love, and usually use that as a base recipe, changing or adding as needed, and that is what I did with these two new cheesecakes. The question was, how was I to incorporate these flavors best?

So I went online.

Cherries are definitely not in season, so obviously something canned would be needed for those. I didn't want to make a white cheesecake and open a can of pie filling to top it. So, how to go about this project? As for the blueberries, I had eaten some delicious fresh blueberries lately (I know, they are not in season either, but the ones sold locally are really good just now!), so I wondered if adding fresh blueberries to the batter would work or not?
 
Straight from the oven: Cherry Swirl left and Blueberry White Chocolate right
Straight from the oven: Cherry Swirl left and Blueberry White Chocolate right

For the Cherry, what was most commonly found was precisely what I imagined: pie filling poured over a plain cheesecake. This was SO not what I wanted! And then I found someplace that used a can of cherry pie filling, pureed in the blender and swirled into the cheesecake. Aha! So this is where I went with the cherry version. I used my base recipe, and swirled in the pureed pie filling. I also opted to use chocolate graham crackers for the crust, since chocolate and cherry go so well together. The only thing I would do differently is to fish out the cherries in the pie filling, and use must less of the "filling" part. I felt the mixture was far too runny when pureed all together. It left some of the cheesecake very thin and prone to falling apart. In general, from a flavor and texture standpoint, it was fabulous.

A Note on the Crusts, and Gluten-Free Options

This time I opted to make the cheesecake crusts using graham cracker crumbs and gingersnap cookies, which are not gluten free. The Almond Crust I used for my Chestnut Cheesecake recipe is completely gluten free, and makes an excellent crust option. The remainder of the recipe is gluten free in and of itself.   

Cherry Swirl Cheesecake with Chocolate Crumb Crust

makes one 9-inch cheesecake

CRUST:
1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (about 6 ounces)
Cherry Swirl Cheesecake
Cherry Swirl Cheesecake

1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt  
4 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
3.5- to 4-ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped finely

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the crumbs, nuts, sugar and salt in a bowl. Pour in the melted butter and stir together quickly with a fork. Press this mixture into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake the crust for about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and spread the chopped chocolate into the bottom of the hot crust. It will melt quickly. Allow to cool completely. Reset oven to 325 degrees.

CHEESECAKE:
3 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling

Have ready a larger baking pan that will easily accommodate the 9-inch spring form pan. Have a kettle of water at a simmer. Cut a sheet of aluminum foil that will cover the bottom and sides of the spring form pan (this is more easily accomplished if done before the pan is filled with the crust, then set the formed foil aside for later). Set the pan onto the foil and bring up the foil, encasing and waterproofing the pan. Set aside.

Set the cream cheese into a mixer bowl. On lowest speed possibly, mix the cream cheese until no lumps remain. Do not beat at high speed. In a small bowl combine and stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt and then add this to the cream cheese, beating gently to combine. Once well mixed, add the sour cream until incorporated, then begin adding the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each thoroughly before adding the next. Add in the vanilla extract to combine.

Separately, scoop out the cherries from the pie filling into a blender container. No need to strain them, just do not use all the excess filling "liquid" from the can. Puree the cherries.

Pour half the cheesecake batter into the foil-wrapped pan. Spoon half of the cherry puree in mounds over the cheesecake batter. Carefully pour in the remaining cheesecake batter, then top with small mounds of the remaining cherry puree. Shake the pan, or rap sharply on the counter to settle the mixture. Use a spatula or knife to swirl the cherry mixture into the cheesecake batter, using figure-8 motions. Do not over-mix. Set the pan into the larger baking pan and place in the oven on middle rack. Carefully pour the simmering water into the larger pan, creating a water bath for the foil-encased spring form pan. Bake the cheesecake for 50 to 60 minutes. The center should be jiggly. Turn the oven off, leaving the cheesecake in the hot oven for 20 minutes more. Remove. Cool completely, then wrap well and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ !

For the Blueberry cheesecake, and my idea of using fresh blueberries - I looked and looked and finally found one recipe by Tyler Florence, who used fresh blueberries. That was good enough for me. I read no further. I used my base recipe, and opted to melt 4 ounces of white chocolate to fold into the batter, adding in the fresh blueberries. For this cheesecake crust I used half regular graham crackers and half gingersnaps. According to personal taste, either using all graham crackers or all gingersnaps would work fine. This is my version:

Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake

makes one 9-inch spring form pan 
Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake
Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake

CRUST:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 3 ounces)


3/4 cup gingersnap crumbs (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup almond meal

2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt  
4 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the two kinds of crumbs, almond meal, sugar and salt in a bowl. Pour in the melted butter and stir together quickly with a fork. Press this mixture into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake the crust for about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Reset the oven to 325 degrees.

CHEESECAKE:
3 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4.4-ounces good quality white chocolate, melted, cooled
1 quart fresh blueberries
1 jar "All-Fruit Blueberry Jam"

Have ready a larger baking pan that will easily accommodate the 9-inch spring form pan. Have a kettle of water at a simmer. Cut a sheet of aluminum foil that will cover the bottom and sides of the spring form pan (this is more easily accomplished if done before the pan is filled with the crust, then set the formed foil aside for later). Set the pan onto the foil and bring up the foil, encasing and waterproofing the pan. Set aside.
What I used

Set the cream cheese into a mixer bowl. On lowest speed possibly, mix the cream cheese until no lumps remain. Do not beat at high speed. In a small bowl combine and stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt and then add this to the cream cheese, beating gently to combine. Once well mixed, add the sour cream until incorporated, then using a whisk, begin adding the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each thoroughly before adding the next. Add in the vanilla extract to combine, along with the cooled white chocolate (I used Lindt Classic White Chocolate, 4-ounce bar - see right).


Pour half the cheesecake batter into the foil-wrapped pan. Sprinkle half the fresh blueberries over the cheesecake batter. Carefully pour in the remaining cheesecake batter, spreading evenly to edges to cover the blueberries. Top with the remaining fresh blueberries, then using a spatula, gently "trowel" over them to just submerge into the batter. Shake the pan, or rap sharply on the counter to settle the mixture. Set the pan into the larger baking pan and place in the oven on middle rack. Carefully pour the simmering water into the larger pan, creating a water bath for the foil-encased spring form pan. Bake the cheesecake for 50 to 60 minutes. The center should be jiggly. Turn the oven off, leaving the cheesecake in the hot oven for 20 minutes more. Remove from oven. 

Melt the Blueberry Jam, then pour this evenly over the top of the warm cheesecake. Cool the cheesecake completely, then wrap well and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.  

 

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