White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

I am not entirely sure how it could possibly be February already, but the sudden pinkification of everything in stores and on Pinterest means it must be true. Between work, training, and M finally returning home, January flew by at a rather alarming rate. Nonetheless, 2014 has started off pretty well so far and now that I’ve finally established my goals for the year I am pretty excited to start on them. I’m looking forward to a year of new recipes and new experiences.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake {{Baking Bytes}}

One of my biggest goals for the year is to run six half marathons; the first is on my birthday, March 15. The main goal of this first race was to keep me running all winter (so far a success) and give me a head start with training. Since I’m hoping for a sub-2:10 in September, I knew there was no way I’d get there if I started in June (as is my habit.) So far so good, but we’ll see where the year takes us.

On the flip side, I’m still baking up loads of sugary delight because that’s clearly going to help me get there. Ha. But be that as it may, this is the month of pink and red heart-shaped boxes of mostly terrible chocolates. Or in layman’s terms, Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been particularly fond of this holiday (shouldn’t you appreciate each other all the time?) but it happens to be the same day as my anniversary with M. (He is quick to point out this was coincidence and there is no “sappy love story” behind it. Silly kid.) This has drastically improved the “holiday” in my eyes, and each year I bake a cake to celebrate. Look for that post in a couple of weeks.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake {{Baking Bytes}}

In the mean time, here’s a fabulous recipe which would be delightful for any special occasion. Chocolate cookie crust, white chocolate, and a raspberry swirl come together in an amazing and smooth cheesecake sure to impress. Drizzle with chocolate sauce for extra presentation points.  It is very rich so just a small piece will do, but it keeps very well in the freezer if you don’t have eleven best friends to invite over.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake {{Baking Bytes}}

Fair warning, I’ve never managed to make this cheesecake without it cracking along the swirls, but it is beautiful and delicious just the same. If you’re looking to step it up a notch this year, and you have a spring-form pan1, this cheesecake is a fabulous option. Although a bit time-consuming, none of the steps are difficult as long as you pay attention. Bonus: it’s at least as delicious as it is pretty.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Adapted from CindyAnn
Makes 1 cheesecake

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (about 20 Oreos2)
1/4 cup butter, melted

10 oz frozen raspberries
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water

2 cups white chocolate chips3
1/2 cup half and half
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake {{Baking Bytes}}

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together cookie crumbs and melted butter until completely combined.
  2. Pour mixture into the bottom of a 9″ or 10″ spring-form pan, pressing down evenly and thoroughly to form the crust. No need to press it up the sides.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar, cornstarch and water, and heat over medium-high until boiling. Continue boiling until sauce has thickened, about five minutes. Strain sauce to remove seeds.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Using a double boiler (or a metal bowl over simmering water), melt chocolate and half and half, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about three minutes.
  7. Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium until combined.
  8. Stir in vanilla and white chocolate mixture until mixture is very smooth. It will be somewhat runny.
  9. Carefully pour batter over the crust.
  10. Slowly pour raspberry sauce into batter in a spiral shape. Drag a knife or a toothpick through the mixture to create swirls.
  11. Bake 55-60 minutes for a 9″ pan, or 45-50 minutes for a 10″ pan. Filling should be set but still a little jiggly4.
  12. Turn off the oven and crack the door, leaving the cheesecake to cool in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Remove to counter to cool an additional 30 minutes.
  13. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  14. Carefully remove from pan, slice in 12 pieces, and serve to adoring guests5.
  15. If you have leftovers, they keep beautifully in the freezer6.

Notes

1 I love my glass-bottom, handled version M got me.
2 Store-brand chocolate sandwich cookies work just fine for cheesecake crusts. I like to pulse the crumbs in a blender a few times to get them extra fine.
3 I like to use Ghirardelli white chocolate chips for this recipe.
4 Cheesecakes are very easy to overbake. Check it at 5 minutes before the lower end of the range: if it still looks kind of like pudding, keep baking. It should look firm but jiggle as one when you tap the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.
5 To get clean slices, wipe off the knife between each slice with a hot, damp cloth. It is a giant pain but worth the effort.
6 If you decide to freeze it (which I highly recommend!), cut strips of parchment paper and gently press on both sides of each slice. Place the slices in a freezer safe container, cover the top with plastic wrap, and make sure the lid is tightly sealed. Defrost in the fridge if you have time, or in the microwave if you’re impatient like me. =)

 

Almond Roca

Happy holidays from Australia! I am busy enjoying sun, sand, and surf before I head back to winter for ski season. More updates when I get back. =) But even though though I’m on the opposite side of the world, I made sure to schedule this recipe to share with all of you. This is something my family (and many family friends) make for Christmas every year and I definitely wanted to share it. Although my family has reduced how much we make each year, we still make several batches to share and keep in the freezer. It is a Top Secret recipe that my mom shares with everyone.

Almonda Roca {Baking Bytes}

If you’ve never had homemade almond roca, you are seriously missing out. I encourage you to make some, pronto. I actually don’t like almonds that much and I can’t get enough of it. Sweet and crunchy, it is delightful straight out of the freezer, or at room temp (if you can wait that long.) It makes a beautiful “appetizer” to have out for parties and a fabulous gift. As a kid I always gave some to my teachers, and had several that said the bag never even made it home.

Almond Roca >> Baking Bytes

Although it’s a little time-consuming, and kind of messy, it’s an easy gift for teachers, neighbors, extended family, or just to have on hand in case you forgot someone. Even better, it keeps well in the freezer for a few months so you (or the recipient) can set it aside if there’s a sugar overload or more time-sensitive items to be eaten. Fair warning though, as easy as it is, it’s a bit easy to screw up too; make sure you read the notes at the bottom to help you be successful.

Almond Roca >> Baking Bytes

Buttery toffee, crunchy almonds, and sweet chocolate melt in your mouth in perfect harmony.

Almond Roca >> Baking Bytes

I dare you to eat just one.

Almond RocaAlmond Roca >> Baking Bytes

Makes 1 cookie sheet

Ingredients

2 cups almonds

1 pound good quality salted butter
1 cup sugar
2 T. water

1 (10 oz) package chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Coarsely chop 1 cup of the almonds; set aside.
  2. Finely chop the remaining cup of almonds; set aside.
  3. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lightly oil with vegetable or canola oil.
  4. In a small-medium, heavy, saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, sugar and water.
  5. Heat candy to 250 degrees on a candy thermometer, stirring often. It will look kind of marshmallowy. (That’s definitely a technical term.)
  6. Add in the cup of coarsely chopped almonds, and heat to 300 degrees, stirring constantly. (It should be very pale brown and thick but also oily looking.)
  7. Pour immediately onto prepared cookie sheet and spread out as thinly as possible without creating holes.
  8. Melt chocolate chips in microwave for one minute and stir. Repeat until chocolate is completely melted and stir until smooth.
  9. Thinly spread candy with chocolate and sprinkle with about half of the finely chopped nuts.
  10. Transfer entire cookie sheet to freezer for 45 minutes, or until candy is hard.
  11. Remove cookie sheet from freezer, flip over the candy (don’t worry about breaking it), and let it warm up for about 15 minutes.
  12. Melt the remaining chocolate, and repeat the coating on the back. It is easiest to do this is small sections as the chocolate hardens quickly.
  13. Return the cookie sheet to the freezer until chocolate is firm, break the candy into bite-sized pieces and store in resealable bags, or put some in a cellophane candy bag and pass out to adoring fans.

Almond Roca >> Baking Bytes

Notes

1 You must use good quality butter like Tillamook or Darigold; store brands produce inconsistent results and might fail completely. And make sure it’s salted butter!
2 My mom uses a large pullout cutting board. I like to use a lipped cookie sheet because it keeps it a little more contained. Just make sure you use something firm, mobile, and that will fit in your freezer (or outside, if it’s cold enough.) It’s also a good idea to lay down newspaper and/or a silicon trivet to protect your counter from the hot candy (and excess oil runoff if you’re not using something with a rim.)
3 It is best to use a long-handled wooden spoon for stirring, as it doesn’t get hot or damage the pan during your million hours (30 minutes) of stirring.
4 Make sure your candy thermometer gets deep into the mixture; if you use too large a pan you are likely to burn the candy because the thermometer isn’t registering the correct temperature. My best luck has been with a heavy 3-qt saucepan.
5 I buy chocolate chips from Costco so I never actually measure how much I use, but I melt about a cup at a time. I like to spread it quite thin, but that’s definitely up to you. I always use semi-sweet (because I buy in bulk) but dark chocolate would be delicious too if you prefer.
6 Even if you’re making a lot of batches, don’t try to cook more than one at a time; it doesn’t seem to go very well. You’ll be much more successful using an assembly line, ideally with extra hands. Pour some eggnog and make it a family or friend activity.
7 If you can’t make it work, comment here or email me and I’ll do my best to help you get it right next time. =)