Happy Valentine’s Day to my Employees and colleagues.


Let’s just say I’ve been getting teased a lot recently, due to my cooking so much, as it must be because I’m “nesting.” Turns out some of my employees and colleagues want a miniature Nikki running about terrorizing the world. I however am not anywhere near that stage and give them a hard time right back.

As of yet though, everything I’ve made and brought into my girls has been met with lots of praise and lots of sharing of the recipes. Everyone always has something they think you should try, once they find you adore anything food. I love it, and I’m in love with creating something new!

Getting back to the topic of Valentine’s Day and the special treat I made for our group of girls at work. As it was not only Valentine’s Day, but also practically the entire departments birthdays of 8 staff lie within November, December, January and February, we decided a fun birthday lunch would be a great way to celebrate the staffs’ birthdays and also thank them for all of the hard work they do. I don’t thank them enough, and they are Awesome!

I didn’t decide until last week that I had found the perfect recipe for them, and I truly didn’t decide until Friday the 10th that I wanted to create them this wonderful White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake from Sweet Anna’s. I’ll be honest her most recent blog sent me into a panic with her use of the “b” word. No no, she’s not using expletives, she’s using that word that no woman ever wants to hear! Budget! Ugh! I hate that word so much, but as an avid food lover, I cannot help but feel I might be headed that way as well.


Back to the cheesecake…the name of the recipe may be a mouthful, but the mouthful of cheesecake you have at the end is truly delightful. I’m a huge cheesecake fan, and my honey went shopping with me for ingredients, so a few items changed from Sweet Anna’s recipe.

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake Recipe
Adapted from Sweet Anna’s

Ingredients:
1 (10oz) package frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Oreos (I used leftover double stuffed, golden Oreos tops or bottoms without the icing)
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups chopped white chocolate (roughly)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 (8oz each) packages cream cheese (1/3 less), softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 regular sized Hershey bars, milk or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
left over Raspberry Sauce

Directions:
Make the raspberry sauce:  Stir together the raspberries, sugar, cornstarch and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 5 minutes.  Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl and store in the fridge until you are ready to make the cheesecake.



Make the crust:  Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Stir together the finely crushed Oreos and melted butter in a medium bowl until well mixed.  Press into the bottom of a Springform pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is set.  Remove from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF and let the crust cool while you prepare the filling.
           
(This is where Nikki started getting creative, if you will. I very roughly beat the tar out of those Oreos in their plastic baggy, mixed in the golden Oreo tops and some additional tops. Double stuff Oreos were a temptation; I’ll admit I ate one…ok two…but still. The mixture I came up with for my crust was really quite lovely, the contrast of golden and black with tons of Oreo filling made a lovely albeit thick crust.)

Make the filling:  In a medium saucepan, heat the half & half to almost simmering.  Remove from the heat and stir in the white chocolate until melted and smooth.  Set aside.
           
(note: though the recipe says roughly chopped, don’t just chuck it in there and expect it to melt perfectly, you’ve got to work with it constantly…also would have helped had I followed the recipe and chopped my pieces down a bit more.)

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to blend completely after each one.  Beat in the vanilla, salt and the melted white chocolate mixture.

Wrap the pan with the cooled crust in it tightly with foil.  Place the foil-wrapped pan in a roasting pan, and put a pot of water on the stove to boil (you will be making a water-bath for the cheesecake to bake in).

(My first thought upon reading water-bath for a cheesecake, Holy crap…it’s a spring form pan! That suckers going to leak that’s just the worst idea ever…sometimes my brain reads but doesn’t comprehend recipes…obviously. This is a brilliant idea, and honestly I’ll probably be doing this all the time now when using spring form pans.)

Pour half of the filling over the crust.  Sprinkle with the chopped Hershey’s bars.  Drizzle 4-5 tablespoons of raspberry sauce over the filling and chocolate bits and swirl with the tip of a knife.  Pour the rest of the filling on top of that, drizzle with another 4-5 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce and swirl again with the knife.

            (I will admit I had a hard time doing the filling halfway, then sprinkling, drizzling, and swirling. Holy heck! I was thinking to myself at this point. EPIC FLOP! It was only after I saw the second round of drizzling that I realized just how gorgeous the top of the cheesecake was going to be. I also realized how much extra raspberry sauce I had…)

Place the roasting pan into the oven and pour water into the roasting pan to reach about halfway up the sides of the Springform pan.  Bake the cheesecake at 325ºF for 60-70 minutes, until the center is almost set.

            (Yes it will jiggle, yes I had a panic attack thinking it was too jiggle-y, this was my first cheesecake…forgive me here, but I finally had the cheesecake cooled down enough that I brought it into the room and showed my parents and said, “Is this right?” Poor Mom and Dad they suffer through so much with my ignorance sometimes)

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, let the cheesecake sit in the hot water for another 30 minutes or so, and then remove the Springform pan from the water onto a cooling rack to cool.  Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge to chill at least 3 hours.

The recipe calls for a lovely ganache to be poured over the top of the cheesecake. I just couldn’t bring myself to cover my pretty swirls on the top that I had worked so hard on creating. I decided instead…I would follow the guidelines for the ganache but make it my own. You can follow the original recipe below, or you can make a drizzle…

Make the ganache:  In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil.  Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth.  Pour the ganache over the top of the cooled cheesecake, smoothing with a spoon and allowing some of the ganache to drip over the sides of the cheesecake.  Return to the fridge to chill an additional 3 hours or until the ganache is shiny and set.



Nikki’s take on a Raspberry Chocolate Drizzle: In a small saucepan, I also brought the heavy cream just to a boil, I added the chopped chocolate and the remainder of my raspberry sauce and stirred it all up until everything smelled heavenly raspberry and delicious. Save to the side in a container and serve on the side.



The primary reason why I made a drizzle instead of the ganache was beauty and appealing to the eyes. The other reason is sometimes people don’t like a lot of chocolate. I like to have some form of control in my eating experience when someone else makes something, so the more I can control my chocolate levels on a cake the happier I am. Odd I know, but that’s just me. Turns out this was a great idea as our lunch included strawberries, which several of the ladies dipped their strawberries into my “drizzle” chocolate for their own version of chocolate covered strawberries.


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