Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

Last year, I got a little frisky and risky in the kitchen and concocted a Lite Mixed-Berry Cheesecake. It was essentially the cheesecake version of "everything but the kitchen sink." I grabbed an assortment of leftovers in the fridge and threw them into a springform pan. The end result was silky, smooth and chopped full of berry goodness.  I wouldn't have even given this recipe a second thought except for one tiny detail.

A detail named Brandon, a.k.a kuya.

Brandon would not stop bringing up the "berry cheesecake" that he saw on the blog. Good grief. At the mention of baking his eyes would light up and he would say "what about that cheesecake?" I had no clue it was like that! In all the years I've known B, the only sweets I've seen him fiend over are peach rings during Kung Fu Movie Night. I took this little bit of information and stashed it in the ol' back pocket for a special occasion.

The time to strike came on his birthday about a week or so back. Instead of using my mash up recipe, I wanted to go for something a little more refined. The cheesecake of choice is by Ina Garten and has fantastic reviews. The berries are not incorporated into the batter; they are used as garnish. The plan was to omit the berry topping and decorate the cheesecake with raspberry swirled hearts instead. Seriously, you need to check out how freaking adorable raspberry swirled hearts can be on a cheesecake. 

Unfortunately... much to my dismay... I over did it on the hearts. What you're SUPPOSED to do is make dots with the raspberry puree and then drag a knife down the middle of the circle to instantly create a heart pattern. My bright self painstakingly made the hearts with the puree with the help of a toothpick. When I dragged the knife through the pattern, it distorted the hearts and the pattern became too chaotic. To cover up my tracks, I swirled the puree all over the place creating a marbled look. It's pretty, but not what I was going for. Next time, raspberry swirled hearts. Next time.

The other error in this cheesecake is rather visible without the raspberry topping. See in the above photo that chasm going across the top? Yah... that's wrong. Perfect cheesecakes have perfectly smooth tops. There are several methods to help ensure this in your cheesecake- none of which I followed- such as baking it in a waterbath to seal in the moisture. Honestly, I don't think the oven condition was the issue. I'm pretty sure I over-mixed the poor thing due to a split attention span. 

Sooooo to cover up my tracks further.. I back pedaled and added fruit on top of the cheesecake. The topping of choice is simply raspberries cooked over the stove at a low heat for a few minutes; a sprinkling of sugar is optional. Remember, the heat makes the berries release all those natural juices so you may want to let it drain before using as garnish. It's all just another lesson learned! In review:
  1. All ingredients should be at room temperature
  2. Don't over-beat the mix
  3. Beat the cream cheese seperately before adding the other stuff to ensure there are no lumps
  4. For a safe bake, use a waterbath
  5. If you are garnishing, do so right before serving so the color doesn't bleed into the cake
  6. If you mess up, cover your tracks! Swirl and garnish!
Bottom line, everybody loved this recipe. The tartness of the raspberry was a welcome treat to the smoothness of the cake. It's refreshing and screams summer time. The best part was getting a hug from B. Mahal kita kuya! 

For the full recipe, check out Food Networks post by Ina Garten. I strongly recommend reading other baker's reviews before making this cake. If you're into the idea of cute raspberry swirled hearts, head on over to Cooking Classy's site for a great tutorial.