Happy 2016! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday and New Year. It has been quite a busy last couple months for the hubby and I (in a good way of course). Between multiple holiday travels for family and vacation traveling to Cancun, we were absolutely spent and decided to stay home in the comfort of our fireplace and television for New Years. There we spent the majority of the day catching up on season 5 of Game of Thrones and eating Chinese takeout. We celebrated the New Year – mind you at 10pm, not midnight cause that’s wayyyy too late for us – with some champagne and one of our favorite desserts, White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis.
This is a dessert that I usually make for special occasions. This cheesecake has a creamy, yet light texture with hints of white chocolate in the background…and dare I say it is healthier than most cheesecakes out there! To create this unique consistency I use both part-skim Ricotta and American Neufchatel, which is made from milk and cream. It contains less fat and a slightly higher moisture content than its cream cheese cousin. For the crust, I crush both graham crackers and slivered almonds together to create a nutty flavor to compliment the filling.
You can enjoy this slice of Heaven as is or go a step further into decadence by drizzling a warm homemade Raspberry Coulis over the top. Either way this cheesecake is a satisfying dessert you can enjoy before OR after your New Year’s resolutions come into play.
To create the cheesecake filling for this recipe you will need American Neufchatel, part-skim Ricotta, high quality white chocolate (bar or baking chips), Splenda, extra-large eggs, flour, and vanilla extract.
For the crust you will need slivered almonds, butter, and graham crackers. (Sometimes if I am in a hurry I will cheat and buy 2 packages of the pre-made graham cracker crusts and then crumble them up into the springform pan. Obviously those are the days that I do not include the almonds.)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
The first thing that you will need to do is to create the crust. Grind the graham crackers and almonds into a food processor until they are finely ground. Then melt the butter and add it to the food processor containing the graham cracker mixture. Pulse all the ingredients until combined and set aside.
Spray your 9in springform pan with Pam and then firmly press the graham cracker mixture along the bottom of the pan, making sure to extend the mixture 2/3 up the sides of the springform pan (the bottom side of a drinking glass is great for this). I love the look and crunchy taste of the extended crust. Set the crust in the fridge while you continue with the recipe.
Now time to make the luscious filling. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler until it is fully liquid then remove and set aside to cool sightly.
With an electric hand mixer (or fancy stand mixer), beat the Neufchatel and ricotta cheese on medium until the mixture is light and fluffy. Next beat in the Splenda, scraping down the edges with a rubber spatula.
Time for the eggs! Blend in each whole egg and egg yolk, one at a time, on low until just incorporated. Once again scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Make sure not to overbeat the batter because doing so will incorporate air which will contribute to surface cracking.
Now comes the flour and vanilla extract. Blend each ingredient in with your mixer on low until just combined. I like to put a tiny amount of flour in my cheesecakes to help avoid cracking from overbaking; call it crack insurance! Basically the starch molecules in the flour will settle in between the egg molecules during baking, which will help to prevent the egg proteins from over-coagulating. Adding a little flour also allows me to not have to use a bain marie – feel free to use one though if that is what you are used to.
Slowly pour the melted white chocolate into the batter, mixing until just combined.
Remove the crust from the refrigerator and slowly pour the filling onto the crust.
Bake the cheesecake on the middle rack of the oven until the cake is set about 2 inches from the edge but the center is still wobbly (about 3-4 inches of middle wobbliness for lack of a better term – think jell0). This will take about 1h-1h15min, depending on your oven. (Mine takes 1h10min.) Do not overbake! I usually start checking at 50min to see where it is. I test the cake’s doneness by the way it looks and by lightly tapping a wooden spoon against the side of the springform pan. By doing that I can see how much of a wobble the middle of the cake has.
Once the cheesecake is done, turn off the oven, crack open the door about 6 inches and allow it to start to cool in the oven for 25 minutes. Then remove the cheesecake from the oven and place on the stove top or protected countertop to cool at room temperature for another hour. Once it has cooled, gently run a butter knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Transfer the cheesecake, which will still be in the springform pan, to the refrigerator to set overnight (6-8 hours at the very least). A VERY IMPORTANT STEP.
Always take the cheesecake out of the fridge about an hour before serving to take the chill off. Store the cheesecake very loosely covered in parchment paper (very loosely to avoid the cake sweating) when eating within a couple days and in an airtight container when storing in the freezer. For long time storage, I actually cut the cheesecake into individual portions and store each slice in both Saran wrap and then foil for protection in the freezer. Thaw each slice overnight and you’re good to go!
Making the Raspberry Coulis is very easy and doesn’t need to be exact, as some people like their sauce to be sweeter while others like myself enjoy a more sour citrus taste. To make, place 6-8 ounces of fresh raspberries in a small saucepan with 4 whole strawberries, 1 tablespoon Splenda, 2 tablespoons water and the squeeze of half a lemon and half an orange. Allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes so the fruit starts to break down. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to slightly cool for a couple minutes before pureeing it in a blender. Make sure to taste the puree in case you need to make adjustments, then pour it in a container and store in the fridge until needed. And that’s all to it!
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 2 cups (7 ounces) organic graham crackers
- 6 oz unsalted butter, melted
- 12-16 ounces quality white chocolate
- 3 (8 ounce) packages American Neufchatel cheese
- 8 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Splenda
- 4 whole extra-large eggs
- 2 extra-large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6-8 ounces raspberries
- 4 whole fresh strawberries
- juice from ½ lemon
- juice from ½ orange
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon Splenda
- Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees
- Grind almonds and graham crackers in food processor until finely ground.
- Add butter to graham cracker mixture and puree until well combined
- Spray a 9in springform pan with Pam. Pour graham cracker mixture into pan and spread over bottom and ⅔ up the sides of pan. (Use a drinking glass to help if needed)
- Store crust in refrigerator
- Melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Remove and set aside to cool slightly
- Beat neufchâtel and ricotta cheese with an electric mixture on medium until light and fluffy
- Add sugar and blend until combined
- Mix in whole eggs and yolks, one at a time, on low until just combined. Scrape down the sides of bowl after each egg. Do not over mix.
- Mix in vanilla extract then flour using electric mixer on low until just combined
- Drizzle in melted white chocolate into the batter while mixing on low until combined
- Remove crust from refrigerator. Pour filling onto crust
- Bake cheesecake on middle rack of oven for 1h to 1h15min until cake is set about 2 inches from the edge but the center is still wobbly (about 3-4 inches of wobble in the center - like Jello). Do not overbake! Periodically check center doneness by lightly tapping a wooden spoon against the side of pan
- Once cheesecake is done, turn off oven, crack open oven door about 6 inches and allow the cake to cool in oven for 25 minutes.
- Remove cheesecake from oven and place on stove top or protected countertop to cool at room temperature for another hour.
- Once cooled, gently run a butter knife around edges of pan to loosen cake. Do not remove from springform pan
- Transfer cheesecake, still in springform pan, to refrigerator to set overnight (6-8 hours at the very least). VERY IMPORTANT.
- Remove cheesecake from refrigerator about an hour before serving to take the chill off.
- When storing for a couple days - store cheesecake very loosely covered in parchment paper (loosely to avoid sweating) in refrigerator
- When storing longterm - store in airtight container or ziplock bag in freezer.
- Raspberry Coulis - place 6-8 ounces of fresh raspberries in small saucepan with 4 whole strawberries, 1 tablespoon Splenda, 2 tablespoons water and the squeeze of half a lemon and orange. Allow mixture to simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes so fruit starts to break down. Remove from heat and allow mixture to slightly cool for a couple minutes before pureeing in a blender. Check taste then pour puree in air tight container and store in refrigerator