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$500 Winner: Sweet Category

Suzanne Caraway | Bandera EC

Strawberry preserves meld beautifully with white chocolate and provide a burst of berry flavor in the middle of winter. This striking cheesecake is the perfect punctuation to a special holiday meal.

2/3 cup (1 1/3 sticks) butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided use
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup strawberry preserves
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brown butter in a skillet, being careful not to burn.

2. In a medium bowl, mix browned butter, graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar. Press mixture into the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with two layers of aluminum foil, covering the underside and extending all the way to the top. Bake 10 minutes, then cool.

3. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt white chocolate chips with half-and-half, stirring often until smooth. Remove from heat and cool. In small saucepan on medium heat, heat strawberry preserves until melted.

4. Combine cream cheese and remaining sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Continue blending and add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla and white chocolate sauce.

5. Pour half the batter mixture over crust. Spoon half the strawberry preserves over the batter in small dots. Pour remaining batter into pan, and pour the remaining preserves in a spiral pattern over the batter. Use the tip of a paring knife to pull lines out from the center to create a marbled effect.

6. Place cheesecake pan in a large roasting pan containing 2 inches of hot water. Bake 55–60 minutes, or until the outer 2 inches are firm but the center jiggles slightly.

7. Carefully remove cheesecake from water bath and refrigerate 8 hours before removing from pan. Before unbuckling the pan, run a knife around edges to loosen. After unbuckling, run a long, thin spatula between crust and bottom of pan, then transfer to a serving plate. Smooth sides of the cheesecake with a wet, hot knife. Garnish with additional melted strawberry preserves and grated white chocolate.

Makes 12-15 servings.

Cook’s Tip

Feel free to use raspberry or blueberry preserves in this recipe.