Last week my book club met to discuss A Thousand Splendid Suns. I normally gobble up books like there’s no tomorrow and I’ll read just about any genre you plop in front of me. But I had a very difficult time with this book. It was just too brutal and offered so little hope, IMO. There are thousands of folks who have loved this book and others by Khaled Hosseini, so don’t let my brief review persuade you not to check it out. Just be forewarned.
Anyway…I figured that after discussing all the depressing stuff in Suns we all would probably need something to lift our spirits. And what cheers me up the most? CHEESECAKE! (My taste buds are dancing as I write this and singing “Big fat DUH! Gimme some now!!”). As is the case with most of our “meetings” we spent most of the evening gossiping and chatting about things other than the book, so the amount of cheering needed turned out to be minimal. But even still, as this cake made the rounds there were big smiles all around.
This is the first time I made something out of Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook, and it turned out very well. Not as delicious as the stuff I found at The Confectional, but woe be the day that I discover that recipe. I might as well chuck my scales and Cooking Light subscription, because my waistline will be a lost cause at that point.
The cake portion was excellent. Perfect blend of savory and sweet with a bright tang of raspberries. The chocolate could’ve been more powerful, though. The only thing I really didn’t care for was the crust. I’m more of a graham cracker crust kinda gal, so the sponge cake just didn’t do it for me. Others enjoyed it, but I think I’ll stick with what I know I like next time.
Junior’s White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
Junior’s Sponge Cake Crust
1/3 c. sifted cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 drops of pure lemon extract
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350F and generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan. Wrap the outside with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides.
In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes. With the mixer runing, slowly add 2 T of the sugar and beat until thick light yellow ribbons form, about 5 minutes more. Beat in the extracts. Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until no more white flecks appear. Now, blend in the melted butter. Move to another bowl.
Now, wash the mixing bowl and beaters really well (if even a little fat is left, this can cause the egg whites not to whip). Put the egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl and beat with the mixer on high until frothy. Gradually add the reamining sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about one-third of the whites into the batter, then the remaining whites. Don’t worry if you still see a few white specks, as they will disappear during baking.
Gently spread out the batter over the bottom of the pan, and bake just until set and golden (not wet or sticky), about 10 minutes. Touch the cake gently in the center. If it springs back, it’s done. Watch carefully and don’t let the top brown. Leave the crust in the pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on while you prepare the batter.
10 ozs of dry-pack frozen whole raspberries (unsweetened, not in syrup), thawed and drained well
5 T cornstarch
8 oz. white chooclate
3 8-oz. packages of full fat cream cheese
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 c. heavy or whipping cream
1 half-pint fresh raspberries
Pulse thawed raspberries in food processor until pureed (you’ll need 3/4 c. of puree). Stir in 1 T of the cornstarch and set aside. It will thicken slightly as it stands. Melt the white chocolate. Set aside.
Put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 c. of the sugar and the remaining 4 T of cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times. Beat in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, sraping down the bowl after each one. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 c. sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the melted white chocoalte, then the cream, just until completely blended. Do not overmix!
Gently spoon the batter on top of the crust. Using a teaspoon drop the raspberry puree in spoonfuls on top of the batter, pushing it down slightly as you go. Using a thin, pointed knife, cut through the batter a few times in a “figure 8” design, just until red swirls appear. Don’t mix in the puree completely or the cake will turn pink.
Place the cake in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Break until the edges are light golden brown and the top is slightly golden tan with red raspberry swirls, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack and let cook for 2 hours. Don’t move it! Leave the cake in the pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cold, preferrably overnight or at least for hours.