Cheesecake was the theme of this month's Daring Bakers challenge. The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. The posted recipe was for a standard basic cheesecake, leaving a lot of room for each baker to adjust flavors to create whatever they wanted. My friend requested a long time ago for me to make a cheesecake that The Olive Garden makes - a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. My main focus this month was to create something similar to that.
White Chocolate and Blackberry Cheesecake recipe:
1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
10 ounces frozen blackberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
4 oz. white chocolate
1/2 cup half and half
3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Butter a 9-inch springform pan and preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line the bottom of the springform pan with parchment, along with the sides if you wish for a cleaner presentation. In a food processor, combine chocolate graham cracker crumbs and sugar, then add butter and pulse until clumps begin to form. Spread evenly along the bottom of the pan and press down to set. Stick in the freezer for at least a half an hour. In the meantime, combine blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, and water, then bring to a boil for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Strain through a sieve to remove seeds and set this sauce aside. In a double broiler (or microwave-safe bowl), heat the half and half together with white chocolate, chopped. Stir frequently until all the chocolate has melted and combined with the dairy. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese together until light and soft, then add sugar and eggs, one at a time, waiting until the previous egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Drizzle in the white chocolate mixture, followed by vanilla extract. Pour half of this into the springform pan, then top with 3 tablespoons of the blackberry sauce. Pour on the remaining cheesecake batter, then top with another 3 tablespoons blackberry sauce. Swirl around with a knife or stick to form marbellized texture, setting any additional sauce aside to serve with the baked cake. Bake 60-65 minutes, or until the filling begins to firm in the center. Remove from the oven and gradually cool to room temperature before moving to the refrigerator. Keep in the refrigerator at least 8 hours before running a knife along the edges and removing from the springform mold.
This dessert came out very tasty, and my friend that requested it loved it. I did, however, set up an additional challenge for myself. My roommate doesn't like cheesecake, or any sort of cheese. However, he loves graham crackers. At the same time, my boss didn't like the last time I brought cheesecake into work because it's not an easily transportable dessert (i.e., you can't walk around with a slice in your hand without it getting messy, fast). I figured I could kill two birds with one stone - up the graham cracker to cheesecake ratio, thus building more structural integrity for the cake, and making the overall dessert thinner so it could be cut into bar form. And voila, bar formed plain cheesecake.
The crust makes up about 1/3 of the cheesecake, as opposed to the usual towering of the cheesecake over crust. It's the same as the original recipe (check out Jenny Bakes) except the crust values are multiplied by 1.5, and it's baked in a 9"x13" pan. Everything else is the same. I was just happy I finally made a cheesecake my roommate enjoyed, and at the same time was easily transportable in hand.