I have kind of a thing for cheesecake. It’s probably my favorite dessert. I can’t get over the creamy, sweet decadence of it. It’s an obsession that has been going on for years. Just ask my husband. I have spend hours pouring over cheesecake recipes and methods and trying them one by one until I found the perfect basic cheesecake. It is this base that I use for all my cheesecakes. It’s amazing, if I do say so myself. Light, not to sweet. Rich but not to much, it leaves you wanting more. So when my friend Cheryl gave me some raspberries from her garden, I knew they had to go into a cheesecake. Cheryl and I did a bit of bartering last summer, since she has a very productive garden and I have chèvre and fresh eggs. It made for a wonderful arrangement that left us both quite happy. Cheryl very carefully froze the raspberries individually and then vacuum sealed them so they kept their shape very nicely but still had a lot of juice, as frozen berries usually do when thawed. So I put the berries on the bottom of this cheesecake so as not to end up with a pink filling but if you are making this in the summer and have some totally fresh berries, I recommend folding them very carefully into the batter. I used to make blackberry cheesecakes when we lived in Washington state and oh my goodness…amazing. I always folded the berries in, but this worked pretty darn well also. I may or may not have just kept a fork in the pan in the fridge so I could nibble on it throughout the day… Then there is the sauce. Oh the sauce. I debated on how to do it. So many possibilities! In the end, the thought of a ruby red sauce over the cheesecake won out and I have to say I am glad it did because it turned out perfectly. I know of at least two people who actually licked their plates clean. I encouraged it obviously.
FOR THE SHORTBREAD CRUST
- 1 cup room temperature butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup melted butter
FOR THE FILLING
- 4 - 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup champagne
- 2½ cups fresh or frozen raspberries
FOR THE SAUCE
- 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons champagne
- TO MAKE THE CRUST
- Preheat the oven to 300˚.
- Prepare your springform pan by carefully lining it with foil on the inside. I always use the large foil, I find most people keep only the smaller size in their kitchens but you really need the larger for cheesecake since I bake in a water bath. The large foil keeps the water out and smaller does not. I carefully press the foil into the pan, this makes the cheesecake easy to remove after baking if you want to present it on a pretty tray or pedestal. If you know you wont be taking it out of the springform pan then by all means, put the foil on the outside of the pan. It will work either way.
- Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the flour. Beat until the dough comes to together, about 3-4 minutes.
- Place a sheet of parchment on a rimmed baking sheet and spread the dough out on it. I tried to just use my fingers and things were going fine but my 4 year old was watching and ended up telling me I needed a rolling pin as he handed it to me out of the drawer - and he was right, it was easier. So just spread the dough out over the entire sheet and bake until the edges are brown and the whole thing seems done - about 35 minutes.
- Allow to cool on the sheet.
- Preheat the oven 350˚.
- Once cool, break it up into chunks and place the chunks into a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Add the other ½ cup of sugar to the crumbs, pulse a couple times.
- Add the melted butter and pulse a couple times, just until the crumbs are pretty evenly moist and will just barely stick together when pressed between your fingers.
- Dump the crumbs into your prepared springform pan and use the bottom of a measuring cup to press it into the pan and up the sides.
- Bake the crust for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and set aside, lower the oven temperature to 325˚ and place a kettle full of water on the stove to boil.
TO MAKE THE FILLING
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions (hint: this is a very important step to getting that light fluffy cheesecake in the end!).
- Once the eggs are added, mix in the sour cream, salt and champagne.
- If you are using frozen berries, sprinkle them in an even layer on the bottom of the crust, if using fresh berries, very gently fold them into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the crust.
- Place the cheesecake into a large pan, I use my turkey roasting pan, and place it in the oven but don't close the door quite yet. Grab the tea kettle of boiling water and carefully pour the water into the roasting pan so it comes about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
- Close the oven and set the timer for 1 hour.
- When the timer goes off, check the cheesecake to see if it is done. It should look about like the consistency of jello when you gently tap the pan. Maybe a touch firmer. If that is what it looks like, turn the oven off and crack the door open, leave it that way for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and from the roasting pan and set on the counter for about 30 minutes. This method of slowly cooling the cheesecake will prevent cracks from forming.
- After 30 minutes on the counter, place the cheesecake into the fridge, I usually place a dish towel over the top and then cover with foil. Chill over night or for at least 8 hours.
TO MAKE THE SAUCE
- Place the raspberries into a small saucepan with the sugar and whatever juices the berries have (if using fresh you may need to add a couple tablespoons of water). Bring to a gentle boil, stirring and mashing the berries as they cook.
- When they are soft and the sugar is melted, place a sieve over a bowl and pour the raspberry mixture into the sieve. Press the mixture through the sieve with a spoon until all the seeds are left behind in the sieve and you have a beautiful ruby red sauce in the bowl.
- Pour the sauce into a clean pan, or wash the one you were using, just make sure there are no seeds in it, place over medium heat.
- Combine the cornstarch with a little cold water in a small bowl, just enough to dissolve the cornstarch, about a tablespoon. Add to the sauce and stir until it thickens a little. It wont be a super thick sauce, this just adds a little body to it.
- Just prior to serving, pour the champagne into the sauce and stir.
- Serve with fresh berries on top, the sauce and a glass of champagne!