Raspberry Zebra Cheesecake
This decadent raspberry–vanilla zebra cheesecake is a showstopping, sophisticated version of one of America’s favorite desserts, and it’s deceivingly easy to prepare. Both the crisp, nutty crust and smooth, airy mascarpone–cream cheese filling mix up quickly before assembling and baking. Plus, this cake can be made several days in advance, making it a perfect party dessert.
- For the crust:
- 2 cups (8 oz./227 g) finely crushed chocolate cookie crumbs, like Nabisco® Famous® cookies
- 3 ⁄4 cup (3 oz./85 g) finely chopped pecans
- 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
- Pinch of table salt
- 4 Tbs. (2 oz./57 g) unsalted butter, melted
- For the filling:
- 2-1 ⁄2 cups (12-1⁄2 oz./354 g) fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
- 3 packages (8 oz./227 g each) cream cheese, slightly softened
- 1 cup (8 oz./227 g) mascarpone
- 2 Tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1 ⁄2 cups (10-1⁄2 oz./298 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1 ⁄4 tsp. table salt
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
Adapted from finecooking.com
Make the crust
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F (180°C/gas 4). Have ready a 9 x 3-inch (23 cm) springform pan.
Put the cookie crumbs, pecans, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and stir until blended. Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and, using a silicone spatula, mix until well blended and the crumbs are evenly moist. Dump the mixture into a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan and put a large piece of plastic on top of the crumbs. Using your fingers directly on the plastic, press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom and about 2-1⁄4 inches (5.5 cm) up the sides of the pan. (A straight-sided, flat-bottomed coffee mug or a measuring cup works well at the end to ensure the crumbs are tightly packed on the bottom.) Remove the plastic and bake the crust until darkened and fragrant, 12 to 14 minutes. Move the pan to a rack to cool. If the crust bubbles, use a measuring cup or coffee mug to gently press it back into an even layer on the bottom.
Make the filling and bake
Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C/gas 2). Purée the raspberries in a food processor or blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve over a medium saucepan, pressing firmly on the seeds. Scrape the underside of the sieve into the pan and discard the seeds. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until very thick and reduced to 2⁄3 cup (160 ml), 10 to 15 minutes. Slide the pan off the heat and let cool completely.
Put the cream cheese, mascarpone, and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using an electric handheld mixer fitted with wire beaters). Beat on medium speed until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl and paddle frequently, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar, lemon zest, and salt and continue beating on medium-high speed until well blended and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating briefly after each addition, and beat until just blended. Add the vanilla with the last egg and beat until blended. (Don’t overbeat the filling once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much and crack as it cools.)
Scoop 2-1⁄2 cups (600 ml) of the batter into a 4-cup (960 ml) measure or a medium bowl. Add the raspberry purée and stir until blended. Put the remaining vanilla batter into another 4-cup (960 ml) measure or bowl. Alternate adding the two batters onto the crust in diminishing quantities, spooning each layer into the center of the previous layer, without smoothing the layers (they will mound in the center), as follows: a third of the vanilla (about 1-1⁄4 cups/300 ml), a third of the raspberry (about 1 cup/240 ml), half of the remaining vanilla (about 1 cup/240 ml), half of the remaining raspberry (about 1 cup/240 ml), half of the remaining vanilla (about 2⁄3 cup/160 ml), most of the remaining raspberry (about 3⁄4 cup/180 ml), most of the remaining vanilla (about 1⁄3 cup/80 ml), all of the remaining raspberry (about 1⁄4 cup/60 ml), all of the remaining vanilla (about 3 Tbs.) You will end up with five layers of vanilla and four layers of raspberry. Don’t spread the filling—it will smooth out as it bakes.
Bake at 300°F (150°C/gas 2) until the center jiggles when nudged, 70 to 80 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges and the center will still look moist. Move to a rack and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight.
Unclasp the pan’s ring, remove it, and run a long, thin metal spatula under the bottom of the crust. Carefully slide the cake onto a flat serving plate. Run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.
Make Ahead Tips
The crust can be baked, cooled, covered, and stowed at room temperature for 2 days before proceeding with the recipe.
The cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze, put the unmolded, cooled cheesecake in the freezer, uncovered, until the top is cold and firm, and then wrap it in two layers of plastic and one layer of foil. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
To add a finishing touch, top the baked and cooled cake with sweetened crème fraîche. Put 1⁄2 cup (4 oz./113 g) crème fraîche, 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar, and a drop of pure vanilla extract in a small bowl and mix until well blended. Pour over the cheesecake and, using an offset spatula, spread evenly to within 1⁄2 inch (12 mm) of the edge. Chill until set, 1 to 2 hours.
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