Sunday, July 8, 2012

White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake

Growing up I only ate white chocolate when it was brought as a gift by relatives visiting from London.  I remember with special fondness Toblerone white chocolate bars with honey and almond nougat which were savored one or two ‘triangles’ at a time.  As far as I can tell, white chocolate appears to be more popular in Europe than North America.

Despite its light color, white chocolate contains cocoa butter, the pale yellow vegetable fat extracted from cocoa beans.  It does not include the low-fat cocoa solids – that contain minerals, flavonols, caffeine, and theobromine – which give regular chocolate its characteristic brown hue.

The United States, Canada, and the European Union require true white chocolate to contain at least 20% cocoa butter or fat.  However, much of what is sold as white chocolate contains no cocoa butter at all.  Some manufacturers pass off a confection made of sugar, milk powder, and hydrogenated vegetable oil (from non-cocoa sources) as white chocolate.  This is what most white chocolate chips are made from.

Besides a 2008 guest post of my friend Sarah, this is the first Treat a Week recipe I have made with white chocolate.  This early summer cheesecake benefited from the strawberry season which was at its peak in early June.

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 to 6 tablespoons strawberry or vanilla yogurt (reduced fat acceptable)
10 tablespoons strawberry preserve (add water if necessary), slightly microwaved
9 ounces white chocolate (equivalent to 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips)
1/4 cup milk (whole or reduced fat)
24 ounces cream cheese, softened (full or reduced fat, or a combination)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  In a medium bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, cocoa, 3 tablespoons sugar, and yogurt.  Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment paper.
2.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325F.
3.  On stovetop or in microwave melt white chocolate with milk, checking frequently and stirring until smooth.
4.  In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate/milk mixture.
5.  Pour half of batter over crust. Spoon 3 tablespoons of strawberry sauce over the batter.  Pour remaining batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons of strawberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.
5.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the center is almost set.  Keep cheesecake in the oven with the heat turned off for an 30-60 additional minutes.  Cool at room temperature for 2 hours, cover with foil, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan.
6.  To remove cheesecake, slide butter knife around the edge of the pan.  Gently release springform pan.
7.  Top with halved strawberries in concentric circles.  Brush strawberries with remaining strawberry preserve and/or serve strawberry preserve on the side.