Apricot swirl cheesecake
This sweet dessert is a melting mouthful.
Making this cheesecake takes a certain amount of focus. And some time. But it’s worth the effort because it’s one of the best I’ve ever made. Rich and dense, with a tart-sweet marbling of puréed fresh apricots – a melting mouthful.
If you use a springform pan and grease it well with butter, you will have a smooth-edged cake. I was afraid about it being hard to remove so I placed baking paper in a pan with a removable bottom and got bumpy edges all around.
But when I served the cake to the ladies of the book club, nobody was outraged and refused to eat the bumpy edges. In fact, they loved it.
The cake goes in four stages: bake the cake bottom, purée the apricots, mix the filling and bake. It needs at least 3 mixing bowls. But don’t be daunted. Read the recipe through and follow my tips for a seamless baking session.
- 1/3 cup flour, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- Pinch of salt
- 3-5 fresh apricots: Enough to make 3/4 cup puréed
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1-2 tablespoon sugar
- 3 8-oz. packages of cream cheese
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup whipping cream
For the cake base
For the purée
For the cheese filling
Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).
If using a springform pan, grease all the inner surfaces very well with butter. If using a pan with a removable bottom, place a sheet of baking paper inside.
Wrap the entire outside with tin foil. This is necessary because at the second stage of baking, the cake will bake inside a water bath.
Have ready a pan into which your baking pan will fit easily, for the water bath.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a small bowl.
Zest the lemon.
Melt the butter.
Separate the eggs, with the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a bowl big enough to contain them whipped.
Measure the sugar, leave it in its measuring cup, and put a measuring spoon on top of the measured sugar. This spares last-second hunting for the spoon when you’ll need to remove a little of the sugar.
Beat the yolks for 3 minutes, using an electric mixer set on high. Keep the mixer running and add 2 tablespoons of the sugar from the 1/3 measured cupful. Beat another 5 minutes.
Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla.
Sift the dry ingredients over the egg yolk/sugar mix and beat on low, just to blend lightly. Blend the melted butter in.
Wash the beaters absolutely clean. In the second bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff. With a spatula, remove about 1/3 of the whites and fold them into the batter. Then add the remaining whites, mixing lightly. Stop when the whites are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Spread the batter evenly in the pan. No water bath yet – that’s for when the whole cake is assembled. Bake 10-12 minutes or until just set and the center springs back when touched. It shouldn’t be baked until brown.
Keep the oven on. Leave the crust in the pan – you will bake the cheese filling on top of it. Put the pan on a rack to cool while you’re preparing the filling.
For the apricot purée:
Blend apricots and cornstarch and add sugar to taste. The amount of sugar will depend on the sweetness of the apricots. The purée should still be tart.
For the cheese filling:
In a large bowl, mix 1 package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, and the cornstarch. Beat on low for 3 minutes or until all is creamy. Beat in the second package of cream cheese, then the third.
Increase the speed to medium and beat in 1 cup sugar, vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Beat in the cream. Mix thoroughly but stop when everything is mixed; don’t overmix.
Spread the batter over the prepared crust.
Spread the apricot purée over the cheese filling, pushing it down with the back of the spoon here and there. Cut through the purée and batter in a figure of 8, going deep enough to just feel the cake on the bottom. Do this three times, but no more or the cake will be yellow instead of marbled.
Put the cake in the second pan. Carefully pour hot water between the two pans, up to an inch from the top of the cake pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until completely set.
Remove the cake from the water bath and put it to cool on a wire rack. Don’t move it for 2 hours lest it fall. When it’s totally cool, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight.
Leftovers stay delicious if wrapped well and kept cold, for 4 days.
Adapted from "Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook."