Tag Archives: almond

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake

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A delicious white chocolate cheesecake swirled with a sweetened raspberry puree is made even more decadent with a stabilized whipped cream and some toasted almonds. The crust is an Almond Coconut Crust that is easy to make gluten free.

Perfect for a summer dessert, or for raising money at a Boy Scout fundraising auction.

Cheesecakes should always be baked in a water bath. This helps them cook evenly, without becoming grainy. For a more in-depth look at cooking a cheesecake in a water bath, click HERE.

When the cheesecake has chilled for several hours (or overnight), remove it from the springform pan and prepare to transform the slightly boring cheesecake into something beautiful and mouth-watering.

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Spread the outside edge of the cheesecake with chilled raspberry puree and place toasted almonds around the outside edge. The puree will “glue” the almonds to the cheesecake. Try to use unbroken almonds that are similar in size.

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The whipped cream topping used to garnish the cake is a stabilized whipped cream. The addition of cream cheese to the whipped cream keeps the whipped cream from breaking down. It will keep for at least 4-5 days in the refrigerator without separating and breaking down.

Use a pastry bag and piping tips to decorate the top edge of the cheesecake. I piped large and small stars around the outside top edge and garnished the top with fresh raspberries. I piped small stars around the bottom edge of the cheesecake.

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RECIPE:

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White Chocolate Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake

Almond Coconut Crust (recipe below)

½ cup heavy cream
6 oz (about 1 cup) white chocolate chips
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
½ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
¼ tsp salt
3 eggs

1 cup Raspberry Puree (recipe below)
about 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
Whipped Cream Topping (recipe below)
Fresh raspberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare and bake Almond Coconut Crust in a 9” springform pan. Cool completely. Wrap springform pan in a double layer of foil, or one layer of foil and then place in an oven bag (like the kind used for turkeys) or a crock-pot liner. Place wrapped springform pan in a larger roasting pan.

Place ½ cup heavy cream in a Pyrex measuring cup and heat for 1 minute in the microwave. Stir in white chocolate chips until smooth. Cool slightly while preparing rest of cheesecake batter.

In a large mixing bowl, use a mixer to combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt. Beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in cooled chocolate mixture. Add eggs to mixing bowl and beat until just combined.

Pour half of the cheesecake batter over the crust  in the prepared pan. Measure out ½ cup of the Raspberry Puree and use this to place dollops around the top of the cheesecake batter. Use a knife to gently swirl. Top with remaining cheesecake batter and swirl with an additional ½ cup of the raspberry puree.

Fill roasting pan (not springform pan!) with very hot water to about 2-inches deep. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath for about 60-75 minutes at 350°F, or until just the very center of the cheesecake is still jiggly. Remove springform pan from the water bath and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove the ring of the pan.

Let cheesecake cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Cover cheesecake pan (do not remove sides) with plastic wrap, taking care not to touch the surface of the cheesecake. Chill for at least four hours or overnight.

To serve:

Remove plastic wrap and remove the outer edge of the spring form pan. Slide a knife or spatula between the parchment paper lining and the crust, and slide the cheesecake off of the spring form base and onto a cake stand or serving platter. Discard parchment paper round.

Spread about ½ cup of the Raspberry Puree around the outside edge of the chilled cheesecake. Press toasted almond slices around the edge, covering the edge completely.

Prepare Whipped Cream Topping and use a pastry bag to pipe large and small stars or flowers around the top edge of the cheesecake, garnishing with fresh raspberries. Pipe small stars/flowers around bottom edge of cheesecake.

Almond Coconut Crust
¾ cup whole roasted almonds
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs flour (omit flour for gluten-free)
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place almonds, sugar, flour, and coconut in a food processor and pulse until it forms coarse crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until just moistened.

Line a 9″ springform pan with a parchment round. Spray lightly with baking spray. Spread the crust crumbs evenly onto just the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely before adding filling.

Raspberry Puree
12 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen (about 2 1/2 cups of not crushed fresh berries)
½ cup water
3 Tbs sugar
½ Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs ClearJel or cornstarch
¼ cup cold water

In a heavy saucepan, combine raspberries, ½ cup water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, crushing berries slightly with the back of a spoon. Strain the berries through a fine sieve, pushing the pulp through the sieve with the back of a spoon. Return seedless puree to the saucepan (rinse saucepan first if there are seeds clinging to the sides). Mix the cornstarch and ¼ cup cold water in a small bowl; stir into puree in the saucepan. Return mixture to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly thickened and no longer cloudy. Cool before using. Store leftover puree in the refrigerator.

Whipped Cream Topping
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs cream cheese, very soft
2 Tbs powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
Pinch of salt

Combine  heavy cream and softened cream cheese (must be very soft, or your topping will be chunky!) in a large bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt; beat until stiff peaks form.  (The cream cheese in this topping will stabilize your whipped cream and help it keep its shape even over several days.)

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chinese Almond Cookies

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DAY 4: Chinese Almond Cookies

A soft, delicious cookie especially for the almond lover (that’s me!). The dough contains almond meal (ground almonds) and is flavored with almond extract. The cookies are then topped with blanched almonds before baking. A quick egg wash over the cookies gives them a great shine when they are cooked.

Can’t find blanched almonds at your store? Or don’t want to pay so much for such a tiny bag? Then blanch your own! All you need is raw almonds. The process is very easy: Boil them (1 minute), cool them (1 minute), squeeze off the skin. For a quick tutorial, click here: How To. . . Blanch Almonds

RECIPE:

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Chinese Almond Cookies
————-(adapted from Cooking for Engineers)

3 cups  flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbs water
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
42-48 whole almonds, blanched
Egg Wash: 1 whole egg, beaten and mixed with 1 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground almonds. Set aside. With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg, water, and almond extract and mix well. Beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. Roll dough in your hands to make 1-inch balls. Place 1-2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or use a silicon baking mat). Press a blanched almond into the top of each dough ball. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each cookie with the egg wash. Bake for 14-15 minutes.

Makes  42-48 small cookies.

To Blanch Almonds:

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add raw almonds to the hot water. Let sit for 1 minute (not longer). Drain and pour into a bowl of ice cold water. Let set in the water until cool (about 1 minute) Drain. Pinch almonds between your thumb and index finger to slide the almond out of its skin. Pat dry. Allow to dry completely before using in recipes.

If you oversoak your almonds and they don’t dry properly: preheat oven to 200°F. Turn oven OFF. Place almonds on a baking sheet and put into the warm (but OFF) oven. Leave almonds in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

 

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Raspberry Cheesecake

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One of the treats that we made to go with our berry-picking haul was this raspberry topped cheesecake. A simple creamy vanilla cheesecake topped with fresh raspberries and a raspberry sauce. For me, dessert doesn’t get much better than this.

For a more in-depth look at cooking a cheesecake in a water bath, click HERE.

The leftover raspberry sauce (I made a double batch)  has been great on ice cream and homemade waffles.

RECIPE:

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Creamy Vanilla Cheesecake

Almond Shortbread Crust (or try this recipe for a graham cracker crust):
1 cup crushed shortbread cookies or Vanilla Wafer cookies
1 cup whole raw almonds
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter (omit salt if using salted butter)

Filling:
3 (8 oz each) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar or Stevia equivalent (about 1/4 tsp powdered or 3/4 tsp liquid)
2 Tbs flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs

Topping (optional):
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbs sugar or pinch Stevia
1/2 Tbs lemon juice (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For crust:
Combine cookies and almonds in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely ground. Add melted butter and pulse just until mixed. Press onto  the bottom of a 9″ springform pan. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Cool. Wrap springform pan in a double layer of foil, or one layer of foil and then place in an oven bag (like the kind used for turkeys) or a crock-pot liner. Place springform pan in a larger roasting pan.

For filling:
In a large mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients except the eggs; beat with a mixer until smooth. Add eggs and beat again, just until smooth (do not overbeat). Pour filling over crust.  Fill roasting pan (not springform pan!) with very hot (almost boiling) water to about 2-inches deep.

Bake cheesecake in the water bath for about 60 minutes at 350°F. The cheesecake will have puffed significantly, and the middle will still be slightly jiggly. Remove pan from water bath and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring.

For topping (sour cream topping is optional):
While cheesecake is baking, combine sour cream, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a small bowl. Pour over hot (cooked) cheesecake and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes. Cover cheesecake pan (do not remove sides) with plastic wrap, taking care not to touch the surface of the cheesecake. Chill for at least four hours or overnight.

To serve:
Remove plastic wrap and remove the outer edge of the spring form pan. If desired, slide a sharp knife under the crust and slide the cheesecake off the spring form base and onto a cake stand or serving platter. Serve cheesecake alone, or topped with fresh berries or Raspberry Sauce.

Raspberry Sauce

12 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen (about 2 1/2 cups of not crushed fresh berries)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs ClearJel or cornstarch
2 Tbs cold water

In a heavy saucepan, combine raspberries, 1/2 cup water, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, crushing berries slightly with the back of a spoon. For a seedless sauce: strain the berries through a fine sieve, pushing the pulp through the sieve with the back of a spoon. Return seedless puree to the saucepan (rinse saucepan first if there are seeds clinging to the sides). Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl; stir into puree in the saucepan. Return mixture to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly thickened and no longer cloudy. Serve warm or cold. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.

Yield: 2 cups sauce (with seeds) or 1 3/4 cup sauce (without seeds)

To make a Raspberry Filling (for filling cakes/cupcakes/pastries): use 2-3 Tbs cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water to thicken puree. Chill filling until cold before using.

 

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Twelve (More) Days of Christmas Cookies: Almond Macaroon Brownies

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DAY 5: An easy way to dress up a boxed brownie mix!

Brownies topped with a coconut and almond cheesecake layer: thick, rich and delicious. As a real nut-lover, this recipe is one of my favorites.

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RECIPE:

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Almond Macaroon Brownies

1 brownie mix for 9×13” pan PLUS ingredients for preparing (usually water, oil and eggs)
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
16 oz (2 pkg) cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract
2 Tbs. flour
1 pkg (14 oz) flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare brownie mix according to box directions. Add half of almonds to brownie batter. Spread in two greased 8×8” pans (or one greased 9×13” pan: see NOTE below).

With a mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and sugar. Beat in 2 eggs, vanilla and almond extracts and flour. Stir in coconut and remaining almonds. Carefully spread over brownie layer. Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes (50-60 minutes for 9×13” pan) until center is completely cooked (cover with foil if top layer starts to get too brown). Cool completely before cutting.

NOTE: I usually bake this in 2 square baking pans because the center will set faster. You can use a 9×13” pan instead, but be sure the center is completely cooked before removing from oven.

 

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS COOKIES (2010) RECAP:
DAY 1: Raspberry Crumb Bars
DAY 2: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
DAY 3: Chocolate Nutella Cookies
DAY 4: Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Raspberry Almond Linzer Cookies

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DAY 6: These are my very favorite cookies EVER! They are light, flavorful and contain two of my all-time favorite flavors: raspberry and almond. DSC04763-3This is the same cookie dough that I use for sugar cookies.
I just roll the dough out a little thinner for the linzer cookies.

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To keep the dough from sticking to your cookie cutter, dip it in flour before each cut (tap on counter to remove any excess flour). A toothpick is a good way to get out the center piece of dough.

Save those tiny centers. They make great little sugar cookies!

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Warm the jam in the microwave for 10 seconds and stir until smooth. Frost a bottom cookie with the almond frosting and top with a small dollop of seedless raspberry jam.

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Place a cut-out cookie on top and press down slightly.

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Raspberry Almond Linzer Cookies

Cookie Dough:
3 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
About 7 – 7 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Filling:
1 cup butter
1 lb (4 cups) powdered sugar
2 Tbs. cream or milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ – 1 tsp. almond extract

Raspberry jam (seedless)

For cookies: Beat sugar, butter, sour cream and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Add soda, salt and enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Chill for 20 minutes to 1 hour for easier handling. Roll dough to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut cookies with a linzer cookie cutter or use small round cookie cutter and smaller designed cookie cutter to make tops and bottoms.  Bake at 375°F for 5-6 minutes; do not brown. Cool on rack.

Beat filling ingredients until smooth.

Frost bottom cookie with small amount of filling. Top with about ½ tsp raspberry jam in the middle of the cookie (heat jam in a small bowl in the microwave to make it easier to spread). Place top cookie (with cut-out design) on jam.

NOTE: This is the same cookie dough that I use for sugar cookies. I just roll the dough out a little thinner for the linzer cookies.

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TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS COOKIES RECAP:
DAY 1:
Swedish Peppar KaKar
DAY 2: Mint Oreo Cookies
DAY 3: Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies
DAY 4: Cherry Nut Mudslides
DAY 5: Snickerdoodles

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