White Chocolate Cheesecake with Sour Cherry Sauce

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Talk about utterly delectable. I made this baby two days before serving it, and it was the hardest thing in the world not to just grab a spoon and dive right in. Even the smell was intoxicating! And as for the taste when it came time to finally eat it? O.M.G! A crunchy, light crust and a perfectly balanced filling. It’s not even overly sweet which, for such a rich dessert, is just as it should be.

I have to thank Kathy Knudsen from Taste.com.au for the recipe. I didn’t really make much adjustment to the recipe itself except for the crust. I personally prefer a base crust only, so I reduced the biscuits (I used shortbread) to 200g and added a half cup of hazelnuts for a bit of taste and texture variation. I then also reduced the melted butter to about 100g or so.

It was the method where I made a bit of a change. I decided to cook the cake in a water bath (bain marie) mainly because everyone says it ensures there’s no cracking and that it delivers a silkier texture. In hindsight, I reckon I didn’t need to do it at all; I read later that if a cheesecake has flour or cornflour (corn starch) in it, it will be more stable and can be baked sans water bath – duh. Oh well, on the plus side, it didn’t crack and it did have a nice silky texture (though the Pumpkin Cheesecake I baked previously without a water bath was easily as silky, though it did crack – on that occasion I put a pan of water at the bottom of the oven to provide steam, which is another option to consider). It also takes longer to cook cheesecake in a water bath – you’re looking at about 1 1/2 hours on average. Anyway, in order to keep things simple, I’ve left the recipe as I found it, so anyone trying this can decide for themselves. If you want to go down the water bath route, I’ve made notes at the bottom of this post.


WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE WITH SOUR CHERRY SAUCE

Serves 8-10

Ingredients: (Click here for unit converter)

  • 250g plain sweet biscuits (I used shortbread plus hazelnuts)
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 500g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 300ml sour cream
  • 180g white chocolate, chopped

For the Sour Cherry Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 360g jar pitted morello cherries
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds extracted
  • 2 whole star anise

Method:

  1. Line the base of a 19cm (base measurement) spring-form tin with non-stick baking paper* (see note about tin size below). Process the biscuits in a food processor until finely crushed. Add the butter and process until well combined. Transfer to the prepared tin. Use a straight-sided glass to spread and press the biscuit mixture firmly over base and side of tin. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F).
  3. Place a small saucepan with about an inch of water in it on the stove at a low heat until it simmers. Place a metal or glass bowl on top (ensuring the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and add the chopped chocolate. Stir the chocolate as it melts until the mixture is smooth. Take it off the heat and set it aside to cool slightly.
  4. Use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until combined. Combine the cornflour and 2 tablespoons sour cream in a bowl. Add the cornflour mixture, remaining sour cream and chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined.
  5. Pour into biscuit base, leaving a good inch or so at the top, as the cake will rise. Place the tin on a baking tray with sides to catch any butter leakage**. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the cheesecake is firm on the outsides, but still a little jiggly in the middle (it may even look a little damp in the middle – this is fine). Turn off oven. Leave the cheesecake in oven, with the door ajar, for 2 hours or until cooled completely (the cake will continue to cook and the centre will firm up in this time).
  6. Take out of the oven and run a thin knife around the outside edges of the cake to prevent cracking as it cools. Place in the fridge still in its tin, with foil loosely covering it for at least 6 hours (or even better, overnight) to chill.
  7. To make sour cherry sauce, combine cornflour and water in a bowl. Drain the cherries, reserving juice. Stir the cornflour mixture, reserved juice, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and star anise in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the cherries. Set aside to cool slightly.
  8. Take the cheesecake out of the fridge about 1/2 to 1 hour to serving time, remove from the spring-form tin and place the cake on a serving platter. Top with the sour cherry sauce when ready to serve.

Notes:

*I used a 19cm cake tin as suggested and found that it was too small for the amount of mixture the recipe yielded. Next time I’ll be using a 20-21cm tin.

**If you’d prefer to use a water bath to cook your cake, cover the outside of the cake tin with two layers of foil prior to filling it (you can see demonstrations of this online – the main thing is to ensure no water can seep into the cake tin). When ready to cook the cake, place it in a large roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with about an inch of hot water. Carefully place in the oven. You will need to cook for longer than the recipe states – 1 1/2 hours is usual, but the main thing to look for is a general firmness but still jiggly in the middle when gently shaken. When the cake is cooked, leave it in the water bath as it cools in the oven. Once the cake is out of the oven, you can take the tin out of the roasting pan; keep the foil around the tin when you place the cake in the fridge – it acts as a nice insulator.


Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting

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