Saturday, May 23, 2009

Berry Cheesecake

In the United States, Memorial Day weekend marks the social beginning of summer (as opposed to the calendar start on June 21). One of the most delicious pleasures of the season is fresh fruit. My favorites include watermelon, peaches, and berries, which were featured in last week’s muffin recipe.

This week, I’ve decided to go back-to-back with another berry recipe. For this cheesecake, you can use one of several types of berries, or a combination. However, I favor blackberries, a generic term which describes several hundred species of dark red, purple or black berries native to the cooler climates of the Northern hemisphere. The berries can also be found in Australia, New Zealand and Chile where they are often considered invasive weed species. Oregon has the distinction of producing more blackberries than any other region in the world.

The earliest indication of blackberry consumption comes from forensic evidence from a 2500-year old Danish “mummy” discovered in a peat bog in the nineteenth century. These fruit contain high levels of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid and manganese. Blackberries are used extensively in cooking, especially in the production of jams, cakes and pies. The fruit is sometimes used to make sauces to marinate or glaze pork, chicken or beef.

In modern life, the word 'blackberry' more often refers to a wireless handheld device than the fruit. So named because of its dark color and a keypad that resembles a collection of seeds, the ubiquitous gadget is so addictive to users that it has been nicknamed the crackberry.

Serves 8

3 cups graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar

1 lb cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs

4 pints berries (whole blackberries, whole raspberries and/or quartered strawberries), washed and at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 300 F. If using a 10-inch springform pan, use the ingredient list above. If you don’t have a springform pan, make cheesecake in a 9-inch metal pie tin but use HALF of ALL the ingredients.
2. To make crust, in a large bowl mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar.
3. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, pack the crumb mixture so that it evenly covers the bottom of the pan. If using a pie tin, make sure there is crust on the sides as well as the bottom.
4. To make filling, in a large bowl beat cream cheese, sugar and eggs until smooth. Pour into the pan and bake for 40 minutes or until the surface is very light brown. Let the cheesecake cool for 30-60 minutes at room temperature.
5. In another bowl, toss the berries, brown sugar and cinnamon. Spoon onto the warm cheesecake and serve immediately. You can also chill cheesecake in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. Either way, place berries on the cheesecake just before serving.


Anonymous said...

A combination of black and blue berries would be very appropriate for this IML weekend in Chicago. Happy start of summer!


Anonymous said...

you know that us jews that observe shavuot (marking the receipt of Torah) eat cheesecake on the holiday. and it starts tomorrow. your timing is impecable as usual. love the recipes.

John said...

It looks so delicious
Thank for sharing

rush-essay said...

That is perfect to have in tea time with your friends and looks easy to make. I need to get the ingredients soon to make it and try this out. Good post