Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cake of the Week: Pink Velvet Raspberry Cheesecake

You may have heard we had a bit of a snowstorm here on the East Coast last weekend. I worked from home on Friday, fitting in a mid-day tempo run just as the first flakes began to fall. By Friday night it was a blizzard, and by Saturday morning the outside world was a blur of of whitish gray with earth, trees, houses, and cars barely differentiated from the sky.

Sunday was all clear and blindingly sun-shiny, but my usually mobile urban life was severely and snowfully restricted. There was literally no public transportation open all weekend and just walking (or more accurately, trekking/plodding/swimming through feet of heavy powder) a couple blocks constituted an epic journey.

But journey I did! After two days of barely leaving the house I needed to get outside. And like the crazy person I am, I needed to run. So I tramped to a gym, paid a drop-in fee, and found myself treadmill'ing next to SpeedyKate for fourteen miles .

Strategic distractions aside (X-Games viewing, episode 3 of Serial, and many many songs on Pandora's No Diggity station), spending fourteen miles on a treadmill gives one a lot of time to think. So I thought about cheesecake. And then I journeyed home and made it happen.

I have concocted many a cheesecake in my day, but this might be the best one yet. It is super light and creamy, much more mousse-like than the New York style heavy cheesy cheesecake. The buttermilk, vinegar, and hint of raspberries makes it delightfully tangy but the Oreo crust is there to remind you that this is definitely a decadent dessert.

To be honest, the whole raspberry part wasn't planned, but rather a reaction to the fact that I never have red food coloring. And I'm so glad that was the case! There is still some food coloring in this cake (I mixed some pink and magenta and yellow and brown like the mad scientist/artist that I am), but the raspberries add such a nice hint of flavor! And the cake really is beautiful, no?

Pink Velvet Raspberry Cheesecake

  • Crust 
    • 2 cups Oreo crumbs (about 20 normal Oreos)
    • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • Cheesecake filling
    • 24 oz cream cheese, room temperature (three 8 oz packages)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3 tablespoons cocoa
    • 4 eggs, room temperature
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • 2 tsp vinegar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/3 cup raspberries (either fresh or frozen and thawed), blended in a food processor to smooth out the seeds
    • Pink or red food coloring (optional)
  • Whipped Cream
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a food processor combine Oreos and butter until it looks like sand.
  3. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
  4. Bake crust for 10 minutes.
  5. Cheesecake filling: Reduce oven to 300 degrees.
  6. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa with an electric mixer until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl
  7. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  8. In a food processor or blender, puree the raspberries and buttermilk until smooth.
  9. Add the sour cream, buttermilk/raspberries, vinegar, vanilla extract, and food color (if using) to the main bowl. Beat until well combined.
  10. Pour the filling into the crust.
  11. Fill a pan (like a 8x8 or something like that, the size doesn't really matter) with water and place it on a lower rack in the oven.
  12. Put the cheesecake in the oven on a middle rack.
  13. Bake for 2 hours. To see if it's done, gently shake the cake -- if the center looks liquidy then keep baking.
  14. Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.
  15. Crack open the oven door and leave the cheesecake in there for another 20 minutes.
  16. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool on a wire rack (in the fridge if you're in a hurry, or overnight -- cheesecake is actually best made one day in advance). The cheesecake should be completely cooled before the whipped cream part. 
  17. Whipped Cream: With a mixer on high, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla until it's thick, then smooth on the top of the cake. 
  18. To serve, run a knife under warm water before slicing.
  19. YUM.