White Chocolate and Chestnut Cheesecake
This is probably the most-liked dessert in my repertoire. It is from The Book of Cheesecakes by Steven Wheeler. (The Chocolate and Pecan Cheesecake I posted before also comes from this book.) I am not a big fan of cheesecakes, but ricotta cheesecakes are different because they are much lighter and they have an interesting texture. Add to that the joyful marriage of white chocolate and chestnuts in this recipe, and you have a sure winner! Chestnut puree can be found in most well-stocked supermarkets during the holiday season. It usually comes in cans imported from France, and can be quite expensive. For that reason, I used to bring my own yearly stock when I went to Turkey every summer. This has caused some minor disasters over the past years, and I decided that it is wiser to make my own puree and freeze it for future use. Sure, it takes some time and effort, but the results are well-worth it. I used my own homemade puree for this cheesecake, and it turned a dessert lighter in color and smoother in texture.
1/4 c butter, melted
1 1/4 cup crushed chocolate wafers (I used vanilla wafers)
12 oz ricotta cheese
1 cup sweetened chestnut puree
2/3 c whipping cream
4 oz white chocolate, cut into tiny pieces
2 tbs cognac (I substituted orange juice)
1 tbs flour
White chocolate, grated
Pieces of candied chestnut
Preheat oven to 350F. To prepare crust, melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the crushed wafers. Press mixture in a 8-inch springform pan (I used a 9-inch one).
To prepare filling, beat ricotta cheese and chestnut puree in a medium-sized bowl. Bring whipping cream to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until melted. Stir in orange juice; blend into the cheese mixture. Beat in eggs and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake 1 hour or until set. (The center is still soft when I take it out.) Cool before you remove from the pan. Cover the top with whipped cream. (This is also a good way to cover cracks, if any.) Sprinkle with grated white chocolate. Pipe 8-10 whipped cream rosettes around the edge of cheesecake. Place candied chestnut pieces in the rosettes. It is best served the next day.