i love cherries. each june i tre-pi-date with anticipation. i eat pounds after pounds and i'm unable to cook them, no matter what great recipes i have stashed. nothing beats a bowl of chilled cherries, crisp and plump and so juicy all the t-shirts i own bear the proof. i think their short season is one of nature's meanest way of reminding me who's in charge. local cherries are long gone, but i can still get good washington ones. the monster craving is appeased, so i finally got around to trying this cheesecake that's been on hold long enough.
my husband loved it, and he's not much for cheesecake. i was very pleased with the taste, especially starting on day four, but the texture i think could be improved. it all depends on which side of the camp you reside: if you like fluffy, airy, light, sort of moist, you'll not be head-over-heels for this. if you think cheesecake by all means should be firm and intense, you'll think this is perfect. (and i'd say it kinda is, if i weren't too polite for such tasteless vaunt).
i had a single meyer lemon, incredibly perfumed and sweet, and i used both juice and peel. you'll want to reduce the juice by half if using a different variety. the cherry topping is better than this picture may lead you to believe. it only has one prerequisite - use fresh fruit. it's easier to make then opening a can, anyway. and lots tastier. no goop. this cheesecake is based on an old raspberry white chocolate recipe i have, but heavily adapted to accomodate the lemon and the cherry topping. don't forget to take the cream cheese out of the fridge a few hours beforehand. i left it out overnight.
for the crust:
9 graham crackers, or 5 oz, or 145 gr;
1 cup or 4.2 oz or 125 gr toasted blanched almonds;
4 1/2 tb or 2.1 oz or 60 gr butter, melted.
for the cheesecake:
2 x 8 oz packets or 450 gr cream cheese;
2.8 oz or 80 gr white chocolate, melted;
2/3 cup or 5.4 oz or 150 gr sugar;
2 ts pure vanilla extract;
juice and zest of one lemon.
for the sour cream topping:
8 oz or 225 gr sour cream;
3 tb or 45 gr sugar;
1/2 ts vanilla extract.
for the cherry topping:
3 cups or 450 gr cherries, halved and pitted;
1 tb cornstarch;
1/3 cup or 75 gr sugar.
preheat oven to 325F. get your 8 inch springform out. grind the grahams with the almonds and when they're pulverized add the butter and mix. line the pan with this mixture, pushing it all the way up the wall. (this is my personal preference, if you like your crust on the bottom only, or half-way up the wall, that's your business. you can freeze leftover crust mixture.) when you have an even layer (some plastic wrap helps) bake it until golden, about 10 minutes. maintain oven temp.
melt the chocolate in the microwave, in 10 second bursts, mixing after each one. mix cream cheese with the sugar, lemon juice, the lemon peel (very finely grated), and vanilla. then add the eggs, beating well after each one. mix in the white chocolate. pour in the crust and bake 40-45 minutes, until the edges are set but the middle still jiggles when you give it a shove.
prepare the sour cream topping by mixing all ingredients together. let sit on the counter while the cake bakes.
pit and halve the cherries. sprinkle the sugar over them and let sit a few minutes. mix every now and then and the juices will melt it. sprinkle the cornstarch through a fine sieve and mix. put the pot on the stove and cook over medium heat just until the juices thicken some, about 5 minutes. the cherries will not be cooked through. you should still have a bite to them. the point is only to tie the juices. set aside to cool.
when the cake is baked, remove from the oven but maintain temp. let it cool 5-10 minutes, then pour the sour cream and spread it in an even layer. return to oven and bake 5 minutes more. let cool until the topping is set. then arrange the cherry topping all over the cake. refrigerate overnight. heads-up: pace yourself, because it peaks on day 4. believe me, you want to still have a slice on day 4. you're welcome.