Baking with wine from Plymouth Bay Winery gets smooth & creamy when a White Wine Cheesecake is involved…top it with their jelly & it’s an elegant dessert.
Let’s play with wine again
It’s time to wrap up my series about baking with the wine and wine jelly samples I received as a gift from Plymouth Bay Winery. So far I’ve made Hamantaschen using Bad Newz Raspberry Bay wine jelly and a Cranberry Wine Babka featuring a Cranberry Bay cranberry table wine reduction.The last items left in my gift basket were the Widow’s Walk white table wine and the What’ta Pair wine jelly. I decided that the green apple and citrus notes of this wine lent itself to a White Wine Cheesecake, and I’d use the cinnamon-accented wine jelly to drizzle on another layer of flavor.
Looking online for wine cheesecake recipes, I came across a few ideas, but none that completely suited me…some had flour in the recipe (which would make the cheesecake have a more cake-like texture, and I wanted a creamy-style cheesecake), and some had so much sugar that I thought the delicate wine flavor would be drowned out. I also wanted a sure-fire technique and tips and tricks for success. In the end, I decided to combine the best of several recipes (as I am wont to do) and see what would happen. I cobbled together my “franken-recipe” from the following sources:
- A White Wine cheesecake recipe that used flour from Reese Kitchen’s White Wine cheesecake
- Another cheesecake recipe that used port wine from The Daily Slice’s Port Wine cheesecake
- A cheesecake recipe without flour (or wine) from King Arthur Flour’s NY cheesecake
- A graham cracker crust and helpful instructions from Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Classic Cheesecake
- Overall advice and helpful hints from Allrecipes’ Baking Cheesecake Step by Step
(Whoa…that’s a lot of recipes!)
Let’s get to it then, shall we?
White Wine Cheesecake
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (5 1/4 oz, 150g), about 10 full sheet graham crackers
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter (2 1/2 oz, 70g), melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (1 3/4 oz, 50g)
- 4 8-oz blocks cream cheese full fat (2 lb, 227g), at room temperature (see Recipe Notes)
- ¼ cup sour cream (2 oz, 56g), at room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar (5 oz, 100g)
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup white wine (2 1/2 oz, 72g)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the crust
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into crumbs. Add sugar, pulse a couple of times, then add melted butter and pulse until combined. Mixture will be sandy.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and cool completely. Before adding batter, brush the top inside of the pan (above the crust line with melted butter to help keep any batter that rises above the crust from sticking to the pan.
For the filling
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and wine; beat on low speed until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing.
- Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the crust. Use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer.
- Pour 1-inch of hot water into a large baking pan at the bottom of the oven (to simulate a water bath). Put cheesecake on rack above the water-filled pan. (see Recipe Notes)
- Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan.
- Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven (with the water bath) as it cools down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, then cool cheesecake completely at room temperature.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.
- Serve cheesecake with desired toppings. Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Water Bath or not?
One question I had was whether to bake the cheesecake in a water bath or not. The reason to do so is that the water acts as an insulator, protecting the sides of the cheesecake from over-browning while the filling sets. Interestingly enough, only 2 of my sources mentioned using a water bath, but I still thought it was prudent advice. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a roasting pan large enough to fit my springform pan, so I opted to try a substitute trick — placing a large pan of water on a lower rack in the oven to create steam. My mistake was not using a large roasting pan (like a 9- x 13-inch baking pan) filled with 1-inch of hot water, opting for an 8-inch sauté pan with about a cup of water instead. Result…I didn’t have enough water to do its job and the sides of my cheesecake were over-browned (sadness).
Despite the sides, the cheesecake itself was wonderful…creamy, rich, slightly tangy, with light notes of green grapes faintly peeking out at the finish from the wine. It was maybe not quite sweet enough (3/4 cup sugar might have been better), but the What’ta Pair jelly helped to add more depth to the wine flavor with cinnamon apples and pears. In addition, the graham cracker crust added a buttery dimension and a nice contrasting texture to the finished dessert. Needless to say, this White Wine cheesecake paired beautifully with the Widow’s Walk wine itself. I couldn’t stop eating the cheesecake, so I made sure to share it with friends. I definitely didn’t have it for breakfast and dessert the next day, no siree.
Many thanks to Gabrielle Sumner, Assistant Manager at Plymouth Bay Winery, for sending the gift basket so I could play with their wines and jellies. They have many more wines and jellies to try…the possibilities are endless!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!