orange mascarpone cheesecake with roasted cherries

Cheesecake and I have slowly made friends over the last five years or so. One of my husband’s favorite desserts, I make it only on rare occasions. Even though I’ve done it before, I have cheesecake-anxiety for a good week before I plan to make it. I worry about whether it will set up properly and bake without drying out. I worry about how my recipe modifications – because I always make modifications – will play out. I worry about whether the cake will come out of the springform pan cleanly, without pulling off any of the crust or sides of the cake. I worry about getting a crack in the top of an otherwise beautiful dessert.

Stupid, right? It is exactly these perfectionistic tendencies and anxieties that kept me out of the kitchen for so many years, worried I would somehow screw up a dish and not get the expected result.

We were invited to a dinner last Saturday night, and I volunteered to bring dessert. About a week prior to the dinner party, I was flipping through recipes and came across this mascarpone cheesecake from Gourmet. Deciding on the dessert well in advance allowed some planning time to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with the recipe, but it also allowed plenty of time to obsess over making it properly. I asked plenty of questions on Twitter, gathering many varied opinions on how to keep the cheesecake from cracking, use of a water bath or no water bath, and how to effectively transfer the cheesecake off the springform pan bottom without breaking the crust.

After collecting opinions and mentally preparing for a few days – even giving myself pep talks at pivotal points in the cheesecake-making process – I crossed my fingers, said some prayers, and got baking.

Somehow, thanks to all of the above, I managed to turn out a beautiful cheesecake, unmarred by cracks. Sure, the top isn’t baby-bottom smooth, but did you see that there are no cracks? That’s right. No cracks.

The crust is made of Biscoff cookies – those little cookies in the red package that Delta hands out if you’ve been a good passenger. I’m hooked on those cookies, and when I spotted an entire package of them in our grocery store, I bought two packages – one for the cheesecake and one for, well, me. Along with a couple of other tweaks, I added some orange zest and orange juice to the cheesecake and I was pretty happy with the end result.

Roasted cherries are an ideal accompaniment to this cheesecake, complementing the subtle orange flavor in the cake. Plus, they are like heaven in a bowl. If you’ve never made them, go do it. Now.

Yield: Serves 10-12.

Orange Mascarpone Cheesecake with Roasted Cherries

Waterbaths can be tricky, but if you wrap the bottom of the springform pan well, no water will seep in during the baking process. The extra-wide aluminum foil - the heavy duty kind - is key. I placed two layers on the counter, set the pan in the center of the foil, and then pulled the edges of the foil up around the springform pan. Baking at a lower temperature for a longer period of time and leaving the cheesecake in the oven for a bit of time after the baking is complete also helps.

The roasted cherries are great served alongside this cheesecake, but they're also a wonderful topping for vanilla ice cream or a good poundcake.

Ingredients:

For Crust:
8.8 ounces Biscoff cookies, finely ground in food processor
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For Cheesecake:
24 ounces cream cheese (3 eight-ounce packages), softened
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest from one orange (approximately 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For Roasted Cherries:
3 cups pitted and halved fresh cherries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:

Make crust:

    1. Place rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Place a round of parchment in the bottom of the pan and butter the parchment.

    2. Stir together the finely ground cookies and melted butter in a bowl until well combined. Wrap your fingers in plastic wrap and press the crumbs onto the bottom and approx 1 1/2 inches up the sides of springform pan.

    3. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a rack. Once cooled, place on a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap sides of pan in preparation for baking in a water bath. Set aside.


Make filling:

    1. Decrease oven temperature to 325 degrees. Place a kettle or pot of water on to boil.

    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a large bowl and an electric mixer) beat cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar at medium high speed, 3 to 5 minutes, until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each egg addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Add vanilla, orange zest, orange juice, and salt, and beat at low speed until smooth. Pour into cooled crust.

    3. Place foil-wrapped filled springform pan into a roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan and around the wrapped springform pan, taking care not to splash the cheesecake. Place roasting pan in oven and bake for about 1 hour, until the cake is puffy around edges but still trembles slightly in the middle when pan is shaken gently. Turn off oven, crack oven door, and let the cheesecake sit in oven for about 1 hour. Remove pan from oven, carefully lift out of waterbath, and let cool completely on a rack.

    4. Chill, loosely covered, at least 8 hours prior to serving. When ready to serve, run a blunt knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen it from springform pan and remove sides of pan. Serve with roasted cherries.

Make roasted cherries:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    2. In a 9-inch square baking dish, combine cherries, sugar, balsamic vinegar, and cornstarch. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until juices are thickened and bubbly, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool completely and then chill until ready to serve.

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21 Responses to “orange mascarpone cheesecake with roasted cherries”

  1. 1
    Aggie — July 19, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

    Oh my gosh I love those cookies and can’t believe you turned them into a crust! so much amazingness in this cheesecake, how I wish I had a piece for dessert tonight. Oh heck, I’ll just have it for dinner!!!

  2. 2
    LiztheChef — July 19, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

    Like you, I have cheesecake-prep anxiety. I wonder if I could skip the water bath? I have heard just putting a pan of hot water keeps the cake from cracking…Hmm, my palms are already sweating ;)

  3. 3
    doctorbobster — July 19, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

    A great looking recipe and, as always, beautifully photographed.

    Walgreen’s, in the cookie aisle, usually carries Biscoffs in the giant economy pack at a great price, 2@$5. That’s where I stock up.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — July 19th, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

      Great to know. Seems like quite a high end product for Walgreen’s to carry.

  4. 4
    Paula - bell'alimento — July 19, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

    I LURVE Biscoff. I love Cheesecake. I love Mascarpone. And I love Cherries so I KNOW I’m going to love this! xoxo

  5. 5
    DessertForTwo — July 19, 2011 @ 11:29 pm

    Absolutely beautiful!

    Only you could save lives AND make a flawless cheesecake :)

  6. 6
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — July 20, 2011 @ 1:29 am

    Sounds delicious, I’ve never flown on a plane or eaten Biscoff cookies, I will have to look for them. Your cheesecake is perfect! I’ve yet to make a cheesecake that didn’t crack and I’ve made a ton of them. Good job!

  7. 7
    Jennifer (Savor) — July 20, 2011 @ 6:55 am

    Dang no crack? good job! I hope you stared at it for a while before you ‘cracked’ into it

  8. 8
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — July 20, 2011 @ 7:06 am

    It IS true that only you can bake perfect cheesecakes and save lives. And be a mum. And be a wife. And blog. You are superwoman!

  9. 9
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — July 20, 2011 @ 7:36 am

    Be still my cheesecake-loving heart! Oh how I want to eat every last piece of you!

  10. 10
    Snippets of Thyme — July 20, 2011 @ 8:11 am

    I too would approach this lovely dessert with trepidation! Wow. Cheesecake heaven. The roasted cherries sound divine as a topping.

  11. 11

    Everything together does sound divine. And happy for you that you were successful with the ‘crackless’ topping.

    I’m not familiar with the biscuits you mention but I had this moment yesterday, when I took a bite of toast that I had left in the toaster oven a bit too long after it was ready…when it was a crispy piece of bread, that I recalled Zwieback. Those cookies for teething babies? I remembered how much I loved them and that I needed to see if they were still around because I bet they would make a great crust too.

    The roasted cherries? With balsamic? I have to.

  12. 12
    Kim Bee — July 20, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

    Oh my, I thought I stumbled into heaven there for a second. This is amazing. I cannot stop staring at the cherries. You are indeed correct, heaven in a bowl. I am loving this recipe and bookmarking for a cool day. It’s about 100 degrees here today so baking not an option.

  13. 13
    chinmayie @ love food eat — July 20, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

    I am right now trying to loose a couple of pounds and recipes like these don’t help! :( This looks sooooo good!!!I need some sugar NOW!

  14. 14
    Carolyn — July 20, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

    It’s perfect! Congrats on a crack-free cheesecake!

  15. 15

    Amazing! This cheesecake looks absolutely stunning, and I’m sure it tastes even better than it looks.

    And, for the record, I don’t think I have *ever* had a cheesecake that didn’t crack.

  16. 16
    Kathy - Panini Happy — July 21, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

    I finally had the chance to try the famous Biscoff cookies on my Delta flight home from BlogHer Food – now I get it! I can just imagine how fabulous they were as a cheesecake crust. :-)

  17. 17
    Kate S. — July 22, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

    I actually think your cheesecake is extraordinarily beautiful. To me, food is always more appetizing when it looks like food, and all the more arresting for every little wrinkle and spot.

  18. 18
    Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — July 22, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

    Gorgeous cheesecake! Very impressive….looks great!

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  20. 19
    Kammie @ Sensual Appeal — April 3, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

    Wow, for a cheesecake lover like me… I am in heaven. Well, my imagination is. Once I make this, I really will be! Amazing.

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