Try this cheesecake when you want an elegant, rich, impressive dessert.
• 1 1/2 cups shortbread cookies, broken into pieces
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup fresh or frozen whole raspberries
• 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
• 4 tablespoons fresh lavender flowers, or 4 teaspoons dried
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 3 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 4 large eggs at room temperature
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. For the crust: Combine the cookies, butter and sugar in a food processor or blender, and pulse to make fine crumbs. Press the crumbs into a parchment-lined, 9-inch springform pan. Spread the raspberries over the crust and refrigerate the crust until ready to use.
2. For the ganache: Place the chopped white chocolate in a medium bowl. Place the lavender on a square of cheesecloth. Bring the corners of the cheesecloth together and tie them securely with string to form a sachet. Place the sachet and cream in a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan and bring the cream to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 2 minutes. Remove and discard the sachet and pour the hot cream over the white chocolate. Whisk the mixture until smooth, then set aside to thicken and cool to room temperature.
3. For the filling: In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the melted butter and vanilla extract. Mix in the ganache until the mixture is smooth and well blended.
4. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325°F and bake 30 minutes longer, or until the edges of the filling are firm and the center is still soft but not loose to the touch.
5. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Cover the cake with a clean kitchen towel and allow it to cool for 1 hour in the oven. Remove the cheesecake and allow it to cool completely in a draft-free spot. Chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
—Vince H. Steinman, Scottsdale, Arizona