On the occassion of Easter Sunday I have a very special guest. It's none other than the lovely Divina from Sense and Serendipity.
That Divina is a nutritionist and a professional cook is a known fact in the foodblog world. I could easily say she is the most featured, interviewed and most wanted guest blogger that I know. In her blog you will not only find healthy recipes, but posts that will encourage and motivate you to make informed choices towards healthy living. She maintains the balance between eating healthy and yet tasty food. Blessed with an eye for detail, you will find perfection in her recipes, posts, presentation and photographs. Don't forget to drop by her blog to see what I mean.
I have been fortunate to know her as a sincere, loyal and dependable friend. As you enjoy this mind-blowing cheesecake, I ask my readers to whisper a prayer for Divina, that she be blessed with a new surge of life this Easter, in her personal and professional life.
It's an honour to have you here Divina!
Have a Blessed Easter!
Easter Sunday and a White Chocolate Cheesecake
Easter Sunday is not an ordinary Sunday, which is marked by the end of Lent Season. And yes, there are Easter eggs and bunnies, Easter lunch with the family and the arrival of spring season. The month of April is special to me in some ways and the season of spring is one of those reasons. I have experienced spring in Vancouver only twice but it brings back beautiful memories that I would cherish for a lifetime. And every time I see the cherry blossoms blooming in my photographic memory, it shows me a promise of a new life and a rebirth.
My remembrance of spring for two years reminds me of being fully alive, and being full of life is just the most breathtaking experience because you are not only existing, you are truly living. It’s like being in love with someone and you want to face life with passion and enthusiasm.
My life and our lives has its own long, dreary, gloomy days of winter just like being in a cocoon for the longest time, struggling and fighting the metamorphosis of change to the most beautiful butterfly in spring time.
Back then, the memories of spring is truly a time for spring cleaning and inner cleansing, yet it’s also a time to release excess baggage from the past.
We have our several chapters of dark, painful and discouraging Fridays before we experience the hope, faith and love of Sundays. Those are the days when we feel hopeless wondering if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And we also experienced sorrow, constant fear, condemnation, abandonment and desperation in times of our greatest need. And sometimes we wonder has God abandoned us? And Good Friday is the day that Jesus was crucified on the cross, and although He’s following the will of the Father, the agony is just too heavy to bear when he shouted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
But then, Sunday came. No matter how long and tedious our Friday is, Sunday will always come. And even if we constantly experience the cycles of Fridays over and over again, our Sundays are coming.
But it’s not your ordinary Sunday.
It’s Easter Sunday.
And suddenly our attention is not fully centered on the Easter eggs and bunnies, or the Sunday brunch with family or even the arrival of spring anymore. Our attention has shifted to a more important occasion – resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Easter Sunday is the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is the reason we are still here and God’s grace that profusely abound has given us a new birth into a living hope. From winter to spring; from Fridays to Sundays; from His death to His resurrection, a new life and a new day has begun. And it’s not just a new life, but a chance to have an intimate relationship and eternal life with the heavenly Father. It is grace indeed.
I’ve been making this cheesecake since 2006 and I used to sell them for Christmas. I would make them after my shift at the hospital while my father was still alive. It’s like a day job, isn’t? But I only have one client who ordered 4 cheesecakes for that season and that was it. But that was okay since I was already exhausted to do anything after spending the day at the hospital.
This cheesecake was actually made of cream cheese while the base is made up of cookies but I changed it a bit by using yogurt cheese and mascarpone cheese. To all chocolate lovers, you might prefer to use some dark or milk chocolate, but there’s something special about the white chocolate that gives this cheesecake a silky and smooth texture and alluring flavor. And I just love it. I am also in the middle of substituting ingredients with wholesome ones. Most of you are aware that diabetes runs in our blood so instead of using 1 cup of sugar, I only used about 2 tbsp of honey. The white chocolate would make it up for the sweetness. And indeed, the cheesecake was sweet enough for everyone in the family.
The crust can be made of any of your favorite cookie crust but I would like to use a crust that I’ve never made before which is an oat crust. I wasn’t really happy with the result of the crust so playing with the amounts and additional ingredients would be another experiment in the future.
This cheesecake is good on its own most especially if you’re a purist but to welcome the spring season and my good memories with it (although we don’t have it), serving this with fresh strawberries and a coulis would be a perfect harmony on your palate.
White Chocolate Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberries
Makes 10-12 slices
1/3 cup butter (about 3 oz)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup muscovado sugar
1 lb yogurt cheese (please see note)
1 lb mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp honey
1 egg yolk
1 lb good quality white chocolate
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ lbs fresh strawberries
2-3 tbsp granulated sugar/natural cane sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit (180 Celsius).
To prepare the pan, wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with aluminum foil, shiny side out. Coat the inside with vegetable oil spray. For ease of serving, invert the bottom of the pan, so the lip around the edge faces downward, and lock in place. Select a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the pan and place a paper towel in it. Bring a kettle of water to boil. Set aside.
To prepare the crust, cut the butter into smaller pieces and melt over low heat. Let it cool slightly. In a medium bowl, combine the oats and the sugar. Add the cooled melted butter and mix to combine. Transfer the mixture onto the prepared pan and with your hands spread the mixture to cover the base and sides of the pan. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until light golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 Fahrenheit (150 Celsius).
To melt the white chocolate, bring a pot of water, about 1/3 high, to a boil and lower the heat. Chop or shave the white chocolate and transfer to a bowl. Place the bowl over the bain marie and allow the white chocolate to melt, stirring once. When melted, remove from the heat and stir with a rubber spatula. Set aside.
To prepare the filling, make sure the cheeses are at room temperature. Beat together the yogurt and mascarpone cheese and honey on low speed until just until incorporated and smooth (you can use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or in a bowl with a handheld mixer). Scrape the bowl down to ensure everything is combined. On low speed, beat in eggs and egg yolk one at a time. Don’t over mix. Add the melted white chocolate and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined. Pour into the baked crust and place in a prepared pan.
To bake the cheesecake, pour the hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the spring form pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the cheesecake is golden brown on top but still loose in the center. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Then, carefully transfer the cheesecake to a cooling rack and remove the foil. Then run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan. Let stand for 30 minutes. Refrigerate the cheesecake on the rack until the center is very cold, at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours.
To prepare the strawberries, wash and dry the strawberries, then core and cut them into quarters. Place half of the strawberries in a blender with half of the sugar and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Add more sugar if necessary. Strain the coulis through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Use the back of a small ladle to push the coulis through. Discard the seeds. Transfer to a bowl.
To serve the cheesecake, remove the side of the spring form pan. To cut the cake, dip a sharp knife into a glass of hot water. Shake off the water, away from the cake, and slice. Wipe the blade clean on a paper towel. Dip the knife again into the hot water and make the second cut. Continue the process as you make each cut. Serve the cheesecake with the fresh strawberries and the coulis.
To make the yogurt cheese: Line a strainer over a bowl with cheesecloth and add the yogurt. Allow the whey to drain for about 7-8 hours. Make sure that the yogurt cheese is not too dry.
Running the knife around the edge after baking will prevent the cheesecake from cracking at the top.
While using the mixer makes your life easier, you can beat the filing by hand.
Try not to overbeat or over mix the filling most especially after adding the eggs. It will cause the cake to rise and fall, which can cause the top of the cake to crack. The less volume you produce, the less the cake will rise.
Have a blessed Easter Sunday!