It’s National Cheesecake Day on July 30th this year! What better way to celebrate the day than with this creamy cheesecake swirled through with Chambord over a chocolate cookie crust. Two surprises here – I’ve put cocoa nibs between the crust and the cheesecake. Or you could use mini chocolate chips. And the chocolate whipped cream topping has a secret ingredient that makes it divine. Top that with wide chocolate shavings and fresh raspberries (shame on me – I didn’t have any) and you’re more than okay.
I truly didn’t want to write about cheesecake. But, why you ask? Is it because you don’t like cheesecake.? Uh…no. Who doesn’t like cheesecake? But, I sort of have a moratorium on cheesecake.
Why a Moratorium on Cheesecake?
You see, I developed cheesecake formulas for a major cheesecake manufacturing company – (No, not Cheesecake Factory; one of their competitors.) – for a good long FIVE YEARS. That’s five years of creating new formulas. And, you know what you have to do when you create new formulas? You may not think this is painful, but you have to taste everything you make. It may take 5 to 10 experiments , and sometimes many many more, to get the right texture and perfect combination of flavors and other components before you get what you want. On top of that, there’s quality control. Cheesecakes from production are cut and tasted every day to ensure quality and that they meet the product design. So…you can see how I’ve had my fill.
But, this Chambord cheesecake goes back to my restaurant days. Who doesn’t love raspberries + chocolate. I could put raspberries and chocolate ‘on a shoe’ (as my husband says) and the restaurant patrons would order it. Needless to say, this was pretty popular.
It all starts with gluten free chocolate cookies – you can buy these or use a baked chocolate cake layer. I had one in my freezer. Buzz it up into fine crumbs and then place it in the oven for about 10 minutes to toast up. Mix the crumbs and sugar and butter together and press into the bottom of your prepared pan. I’m using a Flexi-pan mold here. I like these (to be truthful, I L.O.V.E. these) because, after the product is baked and cooled, I can put it in the refrigerator or freezer overnight and the cheesecake pops right out with clean, perfect edges.
But, this recipe was designed to fit a 9″ springform or cake pan. You may be surprised to know that all the professional bakeries that I know, use solid-bottomed cake pans for their cheesecakes. But, no issues in using a springform pan. If it’s not water-tight, be sure to put heavy duty foil up around the bottom so the water from the water bath (aka bain marie), doesn’t seep into the pan.
The Secret to Lump-Free Cheesecake Batter
When mixing the cheesecake batter, there are a few things to pay attention to so you don’t end up with lumps.
One: start with room temperature cream cheese – it’s easier to mix.
Two: Put the mix together following the order of ingredients. There’s a reason that the cream cheese is first. It has the thickest viscosity. Sugar goes next because the gritty texture helps to start breaking up the cream cheese. And, then the sour cream. Look how thin it is compared to the cream cheese. If it goes in the bowl first, you’ve lost the battle of a lump-free cheesecake. And,
Three: add the eggs one at a time and (yes, I know you don’t want to do this, but), scrape the bowl down after the addition and incorporation of each egg. And, there you have the secret to lump-free cheesecake batter.
To make the Chambord swirl, fill the pan with half of the plain cheesecake batter. Place 1″ dollops of the Chambord cheesecake batter across the pan. Fill with the remaining plain batter. Using the remainder of the Chambord cheesecake batter, place 1″ dollops across the top. Using a chopstick or a knife, start writing a figure 8 in the batter until you like what you see. Resist the urge to overdo it or you’ll lose the beauty of the swirl. In this smaller one, I thought it best to pipe 3 straight lines to be swirled.
What is the one other thing that always happens to home-made cheesecakes? They crack. There’s a couple of reasons why that could happen.
One: Too much air was incorporated into the mix. So, be careful not to do that when mixing the batter. The reasoning is basically the same as Two.
Two: The oven is too hot. What this does is make the cheesecake batter quickly rise up out of the pan and more heat hits the top of the cheesecake essentially over-cooking it. Once the cheesecake cools, the whole thing then falls back down and more than likely cracks. The way to control too much heat is a low oven temperature along with cooking the cheesecake in a bain marie. A bain marie is basically a water bath. You place the cheesecake pan into a larger pan and fill it with water about half-way up the sides of the pan. This ensures a gentle bake because the water maintains a temperature not hotter than 212F. And,
Three: Cooling the cheesecake too quickly. One of the ways to control that is by turning the oven off once the cheesecake is cool and cracking the oven door open. Let the cheesecake stay in there for about an hour and this gentle cooling will also prevent cracks. You want to keep the cheesecake at room temperature for an additional hour before refrigerating.
And, what about that lovely Chambord. According to the company’s website, Chambord Liqueur was fashioned after a 15th century raspberry liqueur made in the Loire Valley.’The liqueur is created from raspberries, blackberries, Madagascar vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, honey, cognac and herbs and spices.’ Is it a wonder that it’s so fabulous?
Another finishing option. I would also love this if it was served with fresh raspberries or a raspberry coulis. But, you can’t go wrong with it just by itself.
Photography of Featured Image and Below by: https://www.facebook.com/kkbowles13/ Karie Sofie Photography