Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mascarpone Cherry Cheesecake

Believe it or not, I have a hard time verbalizing my feelings. This never fails to amuse my family and friends -- after all, I write a food blog and my day job also involves lots of writing, albeit not the emotional kind. And yet, for me, words never seem to be enough to say what I really feel, especially when the feelings run deep, as they usually do with me. I'd much, much rather bake a cheesecake -- and to really express my joy and good wishes for one very special lady, I baked a Mascarpone cherry cheesecake. After seeing the happiness on her face, I'm convinced that wordless communications are the best. Whatever else a cheesecake can possibly mean, it does say "I love you" like nothing else!

I knew when I woke up the morning before the party that I wanted a cherry cheesecake. I saw it clearly in my mind's eye, smelled the hint of lemon and vanilla and tasted its airy lightness on my tongue -- sweetness tempered by the slight tartness of ruby red cherries. It winked at me (in my mind's eye, still) and said, "Make me!" and I obliged. Who am I to say no to a cheesecake?

Mascarpone Cherry Cheesecake

For the crust
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
5 T butter, melted
1 T sugar

For the filling
(Gourmet, Dec. 2003)
20 oz cream cheese (2 1/2 eight-ounce packages), softened
8 oz mascarpone cheese at room temperature (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
a dash of salt

For the topping
About 2 cups of frozen or jarred cherries (I use Morel cherries from Trader Joe's)
3/4 cup of water or juice from the jarred cherries
3 tsp cornstarch
sugar to taste
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream + 2 tsp sugar

Make crust:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan.

Whisk graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl and then stir in melted butter to moisten all the crumbs. Press the mixture onto the bottom and about half ways up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 5-10 minutes. Cool.

Make filling:
Beat cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and salt and mix at low speed until combined. Pour into cooled crust and bake until cake is set and puffed around edge, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool completely in the refrigerator, at least 2-3 hours.

Make topping:
Beat heavy cream with sugar to hard peaks. Set aside.

Whisk corn starch into the water/cherry juice until no clumps remain. Pour into small sauce pan and heat on medium-high until almost boiling. Add cherries, stir, adjust the sweetness by adding sugar if necessary, and heat for a few more minutes until the mixture thickens. Cool completely.

With a large star tip, pile whipped cream around the border of the cheesecake. Spoon cherries into the middle. Chill at least a few hours or overnight.

22 comments:

Y said...

The combination of mascarpone and cherries, is definitely hard to beat :)

Elra said...

Goodness Irine, this is truly heaven. I love cherry, and the filling of this cake make my mouth water....
Cheers,
elra

Treehouse Chef said...

This looks incredible. The presentation is outstanding!

Mermaid Sweets said...

OMG - this makes me sooooo sad to be lactose intolerant. A felow lawyer who bakes - love it! And what a gorgeous blog.

Sara said...

This is just beautiful, I love mascarpone, but I've never made a cheesecake with it before!

nicole said...

I seriously just almost licked my screen.

Ash said...

Wow!!! You can never go wrong with Cheesecake!

Helene said...

I could eat two pieces. Beautiful!

limonana said...

this looks absolutely delectable! sigh!

The Food Librarian said...

Oh...this looks wonderful! I love it.

Elyse said...

I absolutely agree that sometimes words can be hopelessly inadequate to explain how you're feeling, and a gesture can tell someone so much more. Like this cheesecake, for example, it says everything without saying a thing! Not to mention, it looks stunning and delicious!

kirsteniteleader said...

Oh heaven have mercy... I just read about a strawberry mascarpone tart in the latest issue of Gourmet. It looked delicious, but this really takes the, er, cheesecake. I WAS planning on making the tart -but now I'm switching! By the way, I LOVE the way you topped it.
kirsteniteleader <---big fan of whipped cream.

Ulla said...

YUMMY! that looks so good:)

RecipeGirl said...

WOW.

Anonymous said...

Cara, methinks Graham crackers are not a perfect match for the molto Italiano mascarpone? How about using them crushed lady fingers, the very ones we use to make tiramisu? Or some Italian almond macaroons? And for the Kosher for Passover version we can always use some cake matzo meal mixed with butter, a sort of pate-brisse, the cheese will mellow it perfectly, but you will have to pre-bake for 10 min.

Speaking of Passover, Hag Sameach, Irisha!

Fondly,

Fiona

Ingrid said...

Mmmm, everything you make always looks so elegant and classy!

Yum, wish I was at that party!
~ingrid

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, looks so deliciuos...
However, I'm not quite sure what T stands for in 5T butter and T sugar?

Irene said...

Sorry, it stands for tablespoons. I tend to use "T" for tablespoons when I'm typing quickly... :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Ingrid,

if i wanted to make individual (cupcake size) mini cheesecakes, how long should they be baked? What is your take on baking in a water bath?

Cheers,
Jeanne

Irene said...

Jeanne - I think you mean to ask me, Irene, right? :) For mini cheesecakes, I would bake about 25-30 minutes (start checking at the 20 minute mark), until the filling is set and puffed, but not cracked.

Re water bath - I generally prefer to make cheesecake in a water bath so that the top doesn't crack. However, for cheesecakes like this, where there is a topping that will cover the whole entire thing, there's not *strictly* a need for a water bath because no one will see the top, even if it cracks. Also, a water bath ensures a softer and more tender filling - this cheesecake has mascarpone, which means the filling will be tender anyway. However, if you have time and inclination, my preference is always for a water bath.

Anonymous said...

HOW HOT DOES THE OVEN NEED TO BE TO BAKE THE CHEESECAKE? IS IT STILL 350 FROM BAKING THE CRUST OR DOES IT CHANGE? DOES COOKING TIME OR TEMP CHANGE IF YOU COOK MORE THEN ONE CHEESECAKE IN THE OVEN AT A TIME? MY HUSBANDS FAVORITE TREAT IN THE WORLD IS CHERRY CHEESECAKE SO I AM MAKING THIS FOR HIS 1ST FATHERS DAY NEXT WEEK :)

Irene said...

Hi there, the temperature to bake the cheesecake in is 350F, just like for the crust. If you don't bake it in a water bath, the top may crack, but since you are covering with cherries, it won't matter.

I don't really know about baking multiple cheesecakes... I would imagine that the temperature stays the same, but they would need to bake for a longer period of time? Regardless, start checking at the 45 minute mark and probably every 10 minutes after that for the filling to be completely set in the middle and puffed around the edge.