Whether planning a formal dinner party or a casual get together, sometimes dessert gets overlooked. But for many people, dessert is more important than the main dish or anything else that precedes it.
To help us make a user-friendly, but showstopping dessert, executive chef Keith Castro of Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill shares the restaurant's recipe for white chocolate Grand Marnier cheesecake with strawberry rhubarb topping. Prepare this recipe ahead of time and don't stress about it when it's time to serve your guests.
Castro offers a few insider tips: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and not on direct heat because it will burn. You can improvise a double boiler by using a saucepan filled with two inches of water topped by a stainless steel mixing bowl. Also, don’t peek inside once the cheesecake is in the oven. The only time you should open the door is to rotate the cheesecake once. Finally, be sure to measure everything because “baking is an art and a science.”
White Chocolate Grand Marnier Cheesecake from Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill
3 cups hazelnuts, chopped fine
3 cups chocolate wafer cookies, crushed
6 tbsp. sugar
8 oz. butter, melted
4 lbs. cream cheese
2 ½ cups sugar
8 large eggs
6 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled
3 oz. Grand Marnier
2 cups sour cream
1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the crust until it holds when squeezed together. Evenly pack crust into a spring form pan using your fingers or base of a measuring cup to ensure it is evenly packed. Make the filling. Beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy on speed 2.
2. On #2 speed, add sugar and mix until smooth.
3. Add Grand Marnier and mix well.
4. Adjust mixer to #1 speed. Add eggs slowly. Scrape bowl and then add melted white chocolate until incorporated with the mixture.
5. Pour mixture into crusted pan with two sheets of aluminum foil wrapped around spring form pan. Fill to the top.
6. Place cheesecake inside a larger pan. Place cheesecake into a preheated 325° oven, and then fill the larger pan with water about 1-2 inches up the spring form pan. (Put in oven first and then carefully fill with water for less chance of getting water in the batter.)
7. Cook in oven uncovered for ½ hour. Then cover with sheet tray pan or aluminum foil and finish cooking for 1 hour. Rotate cake once while cooking.
8. Pull from the oven and let rest for ½ hour. Refrigerate uncovered until cool, then cover.
9. Once cooled, spread sour cream topping over the entire cheesecake and allow cream to set up solid before cutting.
Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
1 lb. rhubarb (can use frozen)
2 lbs. strawberries
1 tsp. lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups water
¼ cup corn starch and ¼ cup water for slurry
1. Trim ends of rhubarb and clean stalks. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Remove stems of strawberries and cut in half.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan and place on medium heat.
3. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
4. Lower heat to a simmer once fruit begins to break down.
5. Combine cornstarch and water to form slurry. Add to fruit mixture slowly until mixture thickens. Stir with a whip.
6. Continue to stir until thick. Remove from heat.
7. Strain mixture through a fine chinoise strainer to filter sediment. Expect a lot of sediment to discard.
8. Chill before using.
See photo for plating example.
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