I have a few posts in the pipeline (after long absence!), and hadn’t planned to post today, but then I saw it was National Cheesecake Day, so had to share!

Fourth of July Cheesecake

Fourth of July Cheesecake

This was something I threw together for our 4th of July party – I had fresh blueberries, raspberry jam, and cream cheese left over from another project – so of course this came to mind!

Fourth of July Cheesecake

Adapted from ‘Raspberry-Almond Cheesecake’, in Cheesecake Madness, by John J. Segreto

Crust

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped mixed nuts
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 TB (3 oz) sweet butter, softened

Filling

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract

Topping

1 cup raspberry preserves (I used seedless)
2 cups fresh blueberries

Equipment: 9-inch springform pan

Crust:  Combine all ingredients and blend well with fingers, fork, or pastry blender.  Press or pat the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a well-buttered springform pan.  Chill in fridge or freezer for about 30 minutes.

Filling: In a large bowl, beat all ingredients until very smooth and creamy.  Pour into chilled pan.  The recipe recommends a water bath (waterproof the bottom of the springform pan and place it into a larger pan containing 1″ hot water), but I think this time I just used cake strips.  Bake in preheated 325F oven for 1.5 hours.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool for 2 hours.

Topping:  Spread preserves evenly over top of cake, then decorate with blueberries.  Carefully remove cake from pan and transfer to a serving dish.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Slice of summery heaven

Slice of summery heaven

I’ve had this cookbook for years, and have found many winners in it (especially the cheesecake base in ‘Cranberry Cheesecake’, page 56.  Oh my gosh, is that a fantastically light and fluffy cheesecake).  I’ve been meaning to stretch out and try new recipes, so chose this one.

I’d have to say it’s more toward the New York end of things (dense and kind of … dense) than I prefer.  I like cheesecake light and creamy – almost airy.  Otherwise, who can eat a whole slice?  This was a little dense and had that almost chalky feel to it that NY style cheesecake gets.  So if that’s your thing, go for it!  Otherwise, use the cranberry cheesecake recipe 🙂

I’ve had two pints of raspberries languishing in the refrigerator since an impulse purchase at the store last week (they were on sale!), so it was time to decide what to do with them.

If I’d have remembered Smitten Kitchen’s Raspberry Breakfast Bars (from the Baked Bakery’s cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking), I’d have made those. But I didn’t.

I did remember that I’d recently purchased a copy of Alice Medrich’s Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts, and have been meaning to try something from it, so I cracked it open and took a look.

Aha! Raspberry Genoise. (Yes, yes, no chocolate. Still.) I’d get to a) use up the raspberries in something that wouldn’t cause me to gain ten pounds, and b) try out one of the genoise recipes to see what I thought of it. Win-win!

First step, sugar the raspberries and layer them in a 9-inch cake pan. Because I am just a tad OCD, I made sure they were all oriented with the openings up.

OCD Raspberry Placement

OCD Raspberry Placement

Then, mix the genoise. The fiddly part of this recipe is heating the egg/sugar mix to lukewarm over the stove, whisking away. My arms, they are not happy about that this morning. Next time, I take the longer route and use the water bath method. Whisking bad.

Whipping and folding went well (and ohhh, does browned butter with vanilla in it smell divine!), the batter was poured over the raspberries, and the whole thing went into the oven. Half an hour or so later, and here we were!

raspberry-genoise-full1

I was a little concerned at the distinctly eggy smell emanating from the oven during the last few minutes of cooking. Was this going to turn out to be one of those rubbery low-fat cakes? I mean, I’m sure Alice wouldn’t steer me wrong, but still… However, not to worry. I could definitely tell that it was low-fat, mostly by texture – the cake is very light and soft, almost crumbly. Difficult to cut and remove a clean slice. But mostly, it just tastes light. As in, not heavy. Jeff’s comment was that it didn’t taste “substituted” – and it doesn’t! The flavors of the butter/vanilla are very delicate, just a hint, quite right. The juice from the berries soaked into the cake as it cooled, which was nice.

It’s a nice, light, summery kind of cake – it would be perfect with a cup of tea. A full serving (1/10 of a cake) satisfied nicely, and for only 180 calories! I can definitely live with that!

Raspberry Genoise

from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts, by Alice Medrich

Ingredients

3-1/2 cups fresh raspberries

1/3 cup sugar, or more to taste

2.5 TB sweet unsalted butter

1 cup less 2 TB sifted all-purpose flour (3.5 ounces)

1/2 cup plus 2 TB sugar

3 whole eggs

2 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

Serves 10.

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  If the cake pan is only 2 inches deep, make a foil collar.  Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil about 30 inches long and fold it lengthwise in half and then in half again to make a long band 3 inches wide.  Wrap the foil around the outside of the pan and fold the edges together tightly to form a collar about 1 inch taller than the pan.  Spray the bottom and sides of the pan and the collar lightly with vegetable oil spray.

2. Use a large form to mix the berries lightly with 1/3 cup of sugar (or more if the berries are very tart).  Spread eenly over the bottom of the pan.  Set aside.

3. Place a strainer lined with paper towel (not a coffee filter) or 4 single layers of cheesecloth over a 3- to 4-cup heatproof bowl neat the stove.  Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed small saucepan and simmer until the loudest sizzling noises subside, butter turns golden brown, and particles brown.  Pour through the strainer and keep hot until needed or reheat quickly before using at the end of step 6.

4. Combine the flour with 2 TB of the sugar and sift together twice.  Return to the sifter and set aside.

5. In a large heatproof mixing bowl, use a whisk to combine the whole eggs, egg whites, and remaining sugar.  Place bowl in or over a saucepan containing 1 to 2 inches of barely simmering water.  Heat the eggs to lukewarm (check by touching), whisking occasionally.  Or place the bowl directly on the stove burner and whisk constantly and vigorously for about 1 minute, until the eggs are warm.  (This is the quickest, easiest way, but you must whisk eggs continuously to keep them from strating to scramble – not for those with RSIs).

6. Remove from heat and beat on high speed, preferably with a stand mixer, until the mixture has cooled, tripled in bulk, and resembles softly whipped cream.  When it is nearly ready, reheat the butter briefly, if necessary, and add the vanilla to it.  Set aside.

7.  Sift about a third of the flour mixture over the eggs. Use a large rubber spatula to fold the mixture quickly but gently until combined.  Fold in half the remaining flour, then fold in the rest.  Scoop 1 heaping cup of batter into the bowl containing the butter and vanilla.  Fold together with a small rubber spatula.  When combined, scrape over the remaining batter and fold with the large spatula until well incorportaed.  Turn the batter into the pan over the raspberries.

8.  Bake until the cake shrinks slightly from the edges and the top springs back when pressed, 30-35 minutes.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes.  Slide a small knife or metal spatula around the edges of the cake to release it.  Invert onto a plate.  Lift off the pan.  Allow cake to cool.  Serve shortly after cake has cooled.

Note: do not use a pan with removable bottom; juices will leak.  Do not use a glass pan; the berries will overcook.

Nutrition information:

Calories per serving: 185

Fat: 4.7G

% Calories from fat: 22%

Protein 4G

Carbohydrates: 32.7 G

Cholesterol: 71.3 MG

My good and dear friend Tammy (of Tammy’s Tastings, and if you’re anywhere Ann Arbor Michigan, you should check her out and have her do a chocolate or wine tasting for your friends; and if you’re not, she ships her DARNED TASTY CHOCOLATES all over, just sayin’) is having a birthday today (er, yesterday – but I started the post before midnight, so I think it counts), so I made her a cake!

Sadly, she lives far, far away, and so cannot help us eat it. But here are some pictures:

An adaptation of Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

Isn't it pretty?

Aaaaand, a closeup:

A closeup shot of those lovely raspberries

A closeup shot of those lovely raspberries

And one more, for fun:

Such a pretty ring

Such a pretty ring

Thanks and kudos to Culinography, from whom I borrowed the recipe (she acquiring it from Dorie). I’d type it in and everything, but it’s midnight and I’m going to bed now.  Basically, I used candied lemon peel instead of lemon zest, and replaced the raspberry preserves with lingonberry preserves (ran out).  Other than that, pretty much as written.  Taste report tomorrow 🙂

Happy Birthday, Tammy!