I made a cheesecake for Father’s Day. This decadent confection has always been a favorite of my dad who used to demolish half a cake in one sitting. Perhaps his love of it comes from the lavish fact that this dessert combines the delights of cheese with those of cake – you could not ask for more.
Whenever Mom was away and Dad and I had to fend for ourselves the menu was predictable: take away Chinese (or pizza if I whined enough) and a frozen Sara Lee cheesecake. It was his rebellion at a time during which health foods were resolutely dismal and mom was obsessed by a sequence of odious nut cutlets and endless sprouts; if it is was dull and brown it was deemed good to eat.
I am also partial to this luxurious cake but have outgrown the Sara Lee variety—too dense and sweet. To my mind, a good cheesecake should be at once rich and light, silky, slightly tart and with a fine, biscuity crust.
In this version I went for a white chocolate cheesecake edged by a ginger crust and piled high with fresh raspberries. It was a beauty.
White Chocolate, Ginger and Raspberry Cheesecake
10 oz. ginger thins or other crisp gingery biscuits
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese
8 oz. white chocolate
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. cassis, chambord or other berry liqueur
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
4 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup red current jelly
Heat the oven to 375°F. For the crust, whiz the ginger thins in a processor or crush by hand until you have fine crumbs. Melt the butter over a low heat. Mix together the crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until the mixture sticks together when pressed between your fingers. It will not come together as a ball of dough. Press the mixture into the base and sides of an eight-inch round, spring-form cake pan, taking care to make the crust as even as possible. Note: make sure it is not too thick along the bottom edge of the pan where the base meets the sides otherwise you will end up with an annoying wedge of too thick crust just here. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, until it has darkened slightly. Leave too cool.
Next, lower the oven temperature to 300°F. For the filling, first melt the white chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water; allow to cool a little. Then mix together the cream cheese, melted chocolate, flour, and a pinch of salt, beating well until light and puffy. Blend in the sugar, liqueur and vanilla, then gently beat in the eggs one by one. Pour the filling into the crust, place on a baking sheet and set in the oven. Bake for about 50 minutes, until puffed up and set. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight.
To serve the cake, slide a thin knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan and carefully remove pan’s side or ring. Then use the knife to loosen the cake from the pan’s base and gently slide the cake onto a plate. Pile the raspberries on top of the cake, melt the red current jelly on the stove, and then drizzle it over the berries.