Blackberry Cheesecake

Local is the new black: It seems that everybody is talking about shopping where you live, and the need to build the local economy by supporting local merchants today. These days thanks to the Internet we shoppers don’t  need to get off our butt at all –  we can shop anytime day and night, and everything we can think of arrives right to our doorstep. It sure can’t be any easier than that, but I still prefer to shop for groceries at farmers markets and tiny local stores.  I like knowing my grocer by name, and enjoy chatting with him about his plans for the weekend. He knows I’m there every Friday and remembers we have special dietary requirements in the family. Many times he’s able to recommend me new products I wouldn’t notice otherwise, and from time to time slips an extra peach or bag of chips   in my bag just because.  It’s a win-win: I like knowing I’m getting a good deal on a fresh, quality food, and he likes having me as his regular weekly customer.

But for blackberries for this cheesecake I didn’t even need to go to the farmers’ market. I’m blessed to have tons of blackberry bushes in the woods behind my backyard, and take advantage of the abundance they offer me every Summer. It doesn’t get any more local and price – efficient than that! And if I can bribe my teenagers with the promise of a cheesecake and get them to do the prickly picking for me, all the better.

This post is a part of my “Is there a fruit that doesn’t work in a cheesecake?” quest.  I try hard to do my research and find an honest answer to said question, but  so far it looks like I’m going to have to say no, meaning no, there simply isn’t: I haven’t tasted any fruit cheesecake I wouldn’t like, and most cheesecakes with fruit are downright delectable. As I found, blackberries are no exception. I love all the contrasts going on in this dessert: the visual contrast of dark blackberry swirl on a white filling, the contrast of sweet cream cheese and somewhat tart berries, and even contrast in texture, when I find a tiny blackberry seed forgotten in otherwise perfectly smooth filling.

You can’t buy happiness, but you can make this cheesecake, and that’s kind of the same thing: Happiness on a plate, made right in your kitchen, with just the freshest fruit, picked almost out of your window. How easy is that?

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Blackberry Cheesecake

Chocolate Crust:
  •  3 cups chocolate wafers, finely ground (for gluten-free cheesecake, find wafers/cookies that are gluten-free)
  • 4 oz. (114 g, 8 tablespoons, 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • small egg, beaten
Cheese crème:
  •  3 packages (8 oz., 226 g each) cream cheese
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream (or vanilla yogurt)
Blackberry swirl:
  •  1 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

+ fresh berries and mint leaves for decoration

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Method:
  1. For the chocolate base, butter a 9-inch (22 cm) round springform pan. Combine ground chocolate wafers, melted butter, and an egg.
  2. Press the chocolate mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175°C). Prebake the crust for 15 minutes until firm. Let cool completely.
  3. While the crust is cooling, make the blackberry swirl: Puree the blackberries in a blender. Transfer the blackberry mixture into a pan, add sugar and raspberry balsamic vinegar, and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 – 4 minutes. Let cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325 °F (160 °C).
  5. For the cheese filling, mix cream cheese with sugar. Gradually add eggs, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and sour cream and combine.
  6. Pour half of the cream cheese filling into the cooled crust in the pan. With a teaspoon, drop blackberry puree onto batter, using about half of the blackberry mixture. With a toothpick, swirl the two fillings together.
  7. Repeat with the other half of the cream cheese and blackberry mixture.
  8. Place a pan with hot water on the lower rack in the oven. Tap the pan with the cheesecake on the counter lightly to release air bubbles in the filling, put the cheesecake in the oven and bake for about 45 – 50 minutes, until the edges are just firm and the center is still jiggly. Turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour, with the oven door slightly ajar.
  9. After an hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool completely. Chill for at least 4 – 6 hours before running a knife along the edges and carefully removing the cheesecake from the springform pan.
  10. Decorate with fresh berries and mint leaves and serve.

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