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VOL. 38 | NO. 29 | Friday, July 18, 2014

Complicated cheesecake a great first try

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The last part of June and the first part of July has already been so busy for us with birthday celebrations, a vacation and a conference.

When we scheduled the vacation, it looked like our calendar was fairly easy, but in the end we had to juggle quite a few things around it, and now we’re pooped. Isn’t that the way it goes?

Becca Bona, our journalist niece, had her first family gathering at her new house, marking the beginning of the generational change. You know, moms have the holiday and birthday gatherings at their house for just so long, then the children start moving out, getting their own homes and family, and eventually, the gathering places change.

It might be a slow process, but I can see the beginning in the Bona family.

In Memphis, I see it happening with my daughter and her family.

She likes to celebrate the holidays with her children at her house, so she has let the other family members know that if they want to see her kids on a special holiday or for their birthday, then everyone has to come to her house. And she does a fine job. I’m so proud of her and our son-in-law, Brandon.

Anyway, Becca made a special birthday cake for her mother.

It wasn’t the typical white or chocolate cake, though. It was a Blackberry Cheesecake, and it was absolutely delicious.

Not only that, it was the first cheesecake she’d ever made. She was kind of experimenting with us.

But it was great.

Becca shared the recipe with me, and that’s what I have today. She also gave me a few of her pointers when making it, so I’ll pass them along.

Becca said she couldn’t find chocolate wafer cookies anywhere, so she used vanilla wafer cookies, which were fine. She also used vanilla extract instead of the liquor. And she’s right – it was delicious.

To quote Becca, “the most frustrating part was trying to purée and de-seed the blackberries, which really just takes patience, most of which I don’t have.” (Something to consider before trying this recipe)

Here is the recipe. It’s from the Driscoll’s website (www.driscolls.com).

Swirled Blackberry Cheesecake

3 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Filling and topping:
2 cups Driscoll’s Blackberries, divided
1 tablespoon blackberry liqueur, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cups sour cream

Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl. Press into and up sides of nine-inch non-stick spring-form pan. (If pan is not nonstick, brush first with melted butter.) Bake about 14 minutes or until firm. Let cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Filling

Purée one cup blackberries in a blender or food processor and strain. Discard seeds. You should have about 1/3 cup purée. Stir in blackberry liqueur and 2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside until ready to use.

Mix cream cheese and remaining 1 cup sugar in bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Add sour cream and mix until blended. Spoon half batter into cooled crust.

Drop half blackberry purée mixture into batter, one teaspoon at a time. Swirl into filling using a toothpick or wooden skewer. Repeat with remaining batter and blackberry purée mixture.

Bake about 50 minutes or until edges are just set and center jiggles slightly. Turn oven off and prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon. Let cool in oven for one hour. Remove from oven and cool completely. Place in refrigerator and chill until cold throughout – four to six hours, or overnight.

To serve, make a pile of remaining blackberries on top of cheesecake and garnish with mint leaves.

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