Blackberry Neufchatel Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

blackberry-cheesecake-violets

Last week, we did a major kitchen reorganize and finally re-opened a pantry cabinet that we had painted shut a few months ago (oops!). Rediscovering a slew of baking pans, and not to be outdone by Ed’s tiny cinnamon loaves, I decided to welcome the springform pan back into the family with cheesecake.

I’ve never actually made cheesecake before. Edit: I have only actually made cheesecake once before, a lemon ricotta recipe years ago that was alarming terrible. I scanned a few recipes with good reviews, but they all seemed to make strange substitutions like “challenge butter” (what is this???) or questionable no-bake options (why?). Eventually, I landed on a Serious Eats recipe that I used with a few quick alterations.

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The night before our baking marathon, we celebrated four years of hanging together and went a little too hard. Waking up to discarded champagne bottles and a half eaten box of Birthday Cake Oreos, I figured I’d salvage some of the destruction an replace the graham cracker crust with chocolate. A lot of the recipes are all for using the entire cookie, but not wanting to mar the beauty of fresh berries with Birthday Cake frosting, I scooped it out before pulsing the chocolate wafers in the blender. We only ate a few scoops of Oreo centers before burying them in the garbage with the rest of our self respect.

My springform pan is a little guy, so I halved the Serious Eats recipe from the get go. I replaced half of the cream cheese with neufchatel, which I want to say was for health reasons, but if we’re being honest we had already planned on baking enough sweets to feed 12 with only two of us around. Really, it just seems more exotic and is half the price of cream cheese at our grocery store. I ditched the cream for buttermilk, which we picked up for the swirly bread.

The preparation takes a little more massaging than “toss in all ingredients and mix on high” but is fairly straightforward. I was a little hesitant to try my hand at the marbled top, but after scrolling through a few youtube videos I mustered up the courage to go for it. I dosed dots along the top of the poured cheesecake mixture from a plastic squeeze bottle, and swirled through the center of each dot with a skewer, moving from the center toward the outer edge in a semi random pattern.

For my (almost) first stab at cheesecake, it went pretty smoothly aside from some cracking along the swirl pattern. The texture was dense and creamy and melded well with a dollop of berry puree and chocolate crust.

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Blackberry Neufchatel Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust
 
A dense cheesecake with a summer berry swirl and a dark chocolate crust. This recipe uses a 7" springform pan
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • The shells of 25 Oreo cookies
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the cheescake:
  • 1 8 oz. box of cream cheese
  • 1 8 oz. box of neufchatel
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cups buttermilk
For the blackberry swirl:
  • Blackberries
  • Granulated sugar
Instructions
To make the crust:
  1. Pulse the chocolate wafers of roughly 25 Oreos in a food processor until you reach your desired texture. I chose to pulse until the Oreos resembled a heavy sand.
  2. Melt 5 tablespoons of butter and pour over cookie mixture. Pulse until well blended.
  3. Add salt and pulse until combined.
  4. Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
To make the puree:
  1. Blend blackberries and granulated sugar until smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into a plastic squeeze bottle or pasty bag. Reserve the leftover to serve with finished cheesecake.
To make the cheesecake:
  1. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
  2. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until soft. Leave your mixer running and add sugar and salt. Continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the buttermilk.
  3. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.
  4. Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
  5. Dot the top of the cheesecake surface with your berry puree. Using a skewer or toothpick, trace lines through the center of each dot, connecting one dot to the next, to create your marbled surface.
  6. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. To prevent browning, rest a sheet of foil over the surface of the cheesecake. Some cracking may occur during baking. Turn off the oven's heat and leave cheesecake to slightly cool with the oven door propped open for one hour.
  7. Carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster. Remove the foil, taking care not to burn yourself with any water that may have seeped into the foil. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.
  8. Once the cake is cool, cover the top and chill the cake overnight.

 

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