Easter Cheesecake

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The seersucker suits. The pastel bonnets. The array of delicately patterned eggs nestled around the yard waiting to be found. I love Easter. It is one of those holidays that still holds some non-commercial magic in our family. We gather together at Granny’s house for some food, fellowship and front yard football. It is potluck style. Everybody brings their favorites and Granny cooks a big ham to share.

Liv and I have been on a roll with cheesecakes lately so we decided that would be our contribution. The pumpkin cheesecake at Thanksgiving was a huge success, and the Chai cheesecake at Christmas was decimated. We talked about flavors and decided to try a riff on Cadbury Eggs. My kids love these Easter confections and this would be an opportunity to teach Liv how to make caramel from scratch. We talked about how to recreate the flavor profile of the eggs and decided on a white chocolate filling, a chocolate graham cracker crust, and layer of toppings that included caramel, chocolate ganache and chopped up Cadbury Eggs.

Ingredients:

Crust-

1 box chocolate grahams, ground

1 stick unsalted butter

Filling-

8 ounces white chocolate

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 tub mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

2 tbsp. all purpose flour

1tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Toppings-

1/4 cup lt. brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

3 oz. dark chocolate

4 Cadbury Cream Eggs, chilled overnight and quartered

Procedure:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees to bake the crust. Butter a 14 inch springform pan and place a disk of parchment paper in the bottom. I do this so the cake will easily release and I can move it to a tupperware container for transport.

Using a food processor, grind the chocolate graham crackers. I use a whole box because I like my crust to come up the sides of the cheesecake, but if you prefer just a bottom crust, just use two packs of the grahams. Once they are ground, transfer to a bowl and combine with melted stick of butter. You want the crumbs to be moist with butter, but not greasy. Press the mixture into your prepared springform pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until crust begins to darken slightly and hold together. Once finished, cool to room temperature before filling. Drop your oven to 325 degrees for the cheesecake.

Next comes the filling. Get a double boiler going over medium heat (or you can use a large bowl over simmering water) and place your white chocolate in the top. Once melted, remove from heat and allow to cool. Meanwhile in a stand mixer, beat your cream cheese and mascarpone until fluffy. Add sugar and combine. Next add the eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl as needed.

Once the mixture is combined, add the flour and vanilla extract. By this time your white chocolate should have cooled. Add that slowly to the mixer, beating until all is smooth.

The next step may be the most important for a tasty, unbroken cheesecake. Cut some large pieces of heavy duty foil and make a shell layer around the springform pan. It should come up to the edges of the pan. Then place your foil-lined pan in a larger pan (I use a Wilton bottom cake layer round). Fill your crust with the cheesecake filling and move the pan to the oven. Once secure on the rack. Fill the outer pan with warm water until it comes about halfway up the springform. This will allow the cheesecake to bake in a water bath. Water baths ensure even baking when cooking a custard or egg-based cake. It is the only way I have found to get the perfect texture with a cheesecake.

Bake the cheesecake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. At this point the edges should be set, but the center should still be wobbly. Shut the oven off and open the door to allow some heat out. Then shut the door and leave the cheesecake in there another hour to finish baking. Once finished, cool on a rack to room temperature. After it reaches room temperature, it will need to chill and set in the fridge for about 8 hours.

Meanwhile, let’s make the toppings. I love homemade caramel and it is pretty easy to make. It just take precise measuring and patience. I let Liv do this completely on her own with just some verbal direction from me. First, you melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the brown sugar and stir with butter. Then comes the cream. Once you put the cream in the pan, you must whisk it constantly until it cooks down to a dark toffee color and reduces by about half. If it smells burnt at all, you must do it again. Luckily, Liv got it right on the first try! We put the caramel in a small sandwich bag and put it in the fridge to cool slightly.

The other topping is a dark chocolate to drizzle on top of the cheesecake. We did the same thing with it as the white chocolate. Bring some water to simmer in the bottom of a double boiler and put the dark chocolate in top. Allow it to melt completely. Once smooth, place it in another sandwich bag and put in the fridge to cool.

The Cadbury Eggs should be good and hard by this time. Move them to a cutting board and gently cut them into quarters. arrange them around the perimeter of the cheesecake. Next take your cooled caramel and snip the tip of the sandwich bag so you get a very slight opening to drizzle caramel. We did a spiderweb pattern with both toppings, but you can decorate however you like. Do the same with the chocolate- a slight snip in the tip and drizzle the chocolate over the caramel, creating whatever pattern you like. Once it is decorated, put it in the fridge to chill and set.

It was a huge hit for our Easter gathering and I even heard some say it was their favorite cheesecake yet!

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