I’ve been waiting to post this cake since last spring. And today – maybe because the pictures evoke an autumnal tone, or because I just celebrated a birthday myself – I’m feeling happy and energized and ready to type up a recipe for you.
This is a cake I made for my friend Elise, whom I am coming to believe is my “dessert twin.” Everything sweet that she likes, I like. Accordingly, the cheesecake with a handful of fresh raspberries and a hint of chocolate garnish that she chose for her last birthday is the cake that my mind wanders to when I’m dessert dreaming. It happens a lot.
This cake is a Dorie Greenspan beauty that I coronated with a crown of sugared raspberries and chocolate leaves.
That firm but yielding outer layer of cheesecake, lightly browned like a marshmallow over a backyard fire, is what calls to me. In this cake, the outer walls also reveal the rolling clump of raspberries casually tossed in the batter when the pan was half full and not yet baked. That second layer of batter covers every inch of the raspberries like a fluffy, delicious blanket.
For the topping, I made a half batch of chocolate ganache and piped on the double loops once the cake was set. While the cake baked, I sugared the raspberries and made the chocolate leaves.
To create those delicate things, I chose mint leaves that I picked up in the fresh herbs section of the grocery store. I thought mint leaves looked a lot like the leaves on a raspberry bush, plus they are almost always available for purchase, so that made the decision easy.
Here’s the directions for the Delicate Chocolate Leaves:
1. Wash and dry leaves thoroughly.
2. Using the best chocolate available, chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt it in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap in the microwave. Cook the chocolate on high at 30 second intervals, taking care not to burn the chocolate. Use of a double boiler on the stovetop would work just as well.
3. Once the chocolate is ready and as smooth as possible, use a clean flat brush to paint the chocolate on the underside of the leaves, creating a thick layer. Then, place the leaves on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper and freeze for 5 minutes.
4. Thereafter, paint a second layer of chocolate and place the leaves back in the freezer for at least another 5 minutes, or until ready to place them on the cake.
5. When ready to place the layers on the cake, delicately pull the leaves from the chocolate and immediately place the leaves where desired. Work quickly, because unlike M&M’s these morsels do melt in your hands.
Raspberry Cloud Cheesecake
very slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
For the Crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake:
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (divided)
To make the crust:
1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan with sides that are 2 3/4 -inch high (any lower and the batter will spill over) and wrap the bottom of the pan with a double layer of aluminum foil.
2. Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and using your fingers, blend until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist.
3. Turn the ingredients into the springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or not right at the midway point. Freeze crust while you preheat the oven or are otherwise ready to use (crust can be frozen for up to 2 months).
4. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the springform pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool on a rack.
To make the cheesecake:
1. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and put a kettle of water on to boil.
2. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another 4 minutes or so until the cream cheese is light.
3. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition – you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce speed to low and mix in the sour cream.
4. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the springform pan with some space around it.
5. Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, to make sure there is nothing left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl. Then, scrape half of the batter into the springform pan. Thereafter, drop in one cup fresh raspberries (reserve the remaining 1/2 cup to garnish the top of the cake).
6. Top the raspberries with the remaining batter, until it reaches the rim of the pan.
7. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into it to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
8. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top should be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
9. After one hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven and lift the springform pan out of the roaster. Be careful, as there may be water in the aluminum foil. Remove the foil and allow the cheesecake to come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
10. When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours; overnight is better.
11. At serving time, remove the sides of the springform pan (you can use a hairdryer to do this) and set the cake on a serving platter.
12. Garnish as desired.
I’ve dreamed about this cake since I last made it over six months ago. Perhaps it’s time to pick up another 2 pounds of cream cheese….