Raspberry Port Cheesecake

I never turn down a dessert menu. When Mike and I went to San Francisco for the first time back in the “before” times of 2019, I was handed a menu and noticed that each dessert was paired with port wine. We ordered a slice of cake and a glass of port for each of us and I then and there discovered my love of the full-bodied, sweetened, wine. 

Produced in Portugal, port is fermented like other wines, but is fortified with a neutral spirit before the fermentation process is finished. The spirit stops the fermentation, which leaves extra sugar in the wine, resulting in a fortified wine with all the nuances of non-fortified wine. It’s best to store port in the refrigerator after opening and then enjoy within a month.

I’ve ordered port to go with dessert since, but hadn’t splurged on a bottle of my own. So when Sandeman reached out to collaborate, I jumped at the chance. Port pairs well with cheeses, nuts, fruit, and even chocolate. Basically everything I love! It also adds complexity to dessert sauces, custards, and cakes.

For this recipe, port is added to the cheesecake batter as well as the raspberry swirl. It cuts the richness, while enhancing the raspberry flavor. The almonds in the graham cracker crust add a satisfying crunch and a mildly nutty flavor to go along with the port and raspberry flavors.

Tips for Making Cheesecake

Achieving the silky texture for cheesecake is easy if you follow these tips.

Room temperature ingredients: Cheesecake is a baked custard made with cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, eggs, and sugar. The key to making a creamy cheesecake is making sure that the ingredients are at room temperature.

Bake in a water bath: Baking the cheesecake in a water bath also helps retain the sought after silky texture. The water bath helps ensure that the eggs cook slowly and evenly. The smaller springform pan that I used in this recipe is easier to manage. Whereas a larger pan requires a large roasting pan for the water bath, this small 7 inch pan fits inside a standard 9 x 13 casserole dish. To keep the crust from getting soggy, wrap the springform pan in foil. Then place the springform pan inside the casserole dish and add hot water to the casserole dish until it reaches 1/3 of the way up the sides of the springform pan.

Don’t over bake: Baking times vary from oven to oven. The cheesecake is baked once it reaches an internal temperature of 150℉. It will have a slight jiggle in the center when tapped. Cool the cheesecake slowly to prevent cracking and then chill overnight before removing from the pan.

Raspberry Port Cheesecake

Servings: 6 to 8

Yield: 1 – 7 inch cheesecake

Active Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Cooling Time: 2 hours

Chilling Time: 8 hours

Graham Cracker Crust:

1/2 cup (50g) finely ground graham crackers (about 3 sheets of graham crackers)

1/4 cup (35g) finely ground almonds

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Raspberry Swirl:

1/4 cup (79g) raspberry jam
2 tablespoons Sandeman Reserve port

Cheesecake Filling:

16 ounces Original Philadelphia Cream Cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

3  large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup (80g) full fat sour cream

1/4 cup (40g) heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons Sandeman Reserve port

Special equipment: 7 inch springform pan

Directions:

Prepare oven: Check that the rack is in the center of the oven and heat to 350℉. 

Prepare springform pan: Tear off two sheets of foil 16 inches long. Lay the foil in an X shape and set the springform pan in the center. Start with the top piece of foil and form it snugly around the pan and do the same with the bottom piece of foil. The foil will cover most of the pan. Spray the sides (no need to spray the bottom of the pan) on the inside of the pan with cooking spray to ensure the cheesecake doesn’t stick to the pan.

Make graham cracker crust: In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, almonds, sugar, and salt. Add two tablespoons of melted butter and combine. The mixture should hold together when squeezed. If not, then add the last tablespoon of butter, mix, and test again.

Press in crust: Dump the crust in the bottom of the springform pan and spread it over the bottom. Lightly press the crust with your fingers until it is at an even thickness throughout and doesn’t move when pressed gently. 

Bake crust: Bake the crust on the center rack in the oven for about 10 minutes. The crust will be lightly golden around the edges. Remove it from the oven and set on a cooling rack.

Turn down the oven: Turn down the oven temperature to 325℉.

Make raspberry swirl: Mix the raspberry jam and port in a small bowl until smooth. It will be similar in texture to a thick sauce and have a strong port flavor that will mellow when baked. Set aside.

Make cheesecake batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, and salt on low for a few seconds to combine and then increase speed to medium for three minutes. Scrape after each minute.

With mixer on low, add one egg and mix for 30 seconds to combine. Scrape the bowl and continue adding and scraping with the next two eggs. After the eggs have been added, mix on medium for 30 seconds to ensure the batter is fully emulsified.

In a small glass measuring cup, combine sour cream and heavy cream. Add to the mixer bowl and mix on medium for 30 seconds to completely combine.

Turn the mixer to low and add the vanilla extract and port. Mix for 10 seconds.

Take the bowl off the mixer and give the batter a couple more stirs with the spatula to ensure that it is fully combined. There shouldn’t be any streaks or large lumps in the batter.

Add batter and raspberry swirl to pan: Scrape the batter over the cooled crust in the springform pan and level with the spatula. Use a spoon to dribble the raspberry mixture over the top of the crust. Turn the spoon around and use the end of the handle to gently swirl the raspberry mixture with the cheesecake batter.

Bake: Set the cheesecake in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Fill a large spouted measuring cup with hot water and pour it in the pan until it reaches 1/3 of the way up the sides. Transfer to the oven and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or how ever long it takes for the internal temperature to reach 150℉. It will have a slight jiggle in the center when tapped. This is good! If the cheesecake starts to puff or brown, turn the oven temperature down 300℉.

Cool: Once the cheesecake is baked, let it cool slowly inside the oven by turning the oven off and opening the oven door. Let the cheesecake cool for an hour. After an hour, pull the casserole dish with the cheesecake inside, out of the oven. Take the cheesecake out of the casserole dish and unwrap the foil from the springform pan. There may be water in the foil so unwrap carefully. Cool the cheesecake on a cooling rack until it’s at room temperature, about 1 hour. Wrap the cheesecake in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.

Serve: Remove the plastic wrap from the cheesecake and unlatch the springform pan, removing the sides of the pan. For the cleanest slices, warm a chef’s knife under hot water and dry with a towel. Slice the cheesecake into eight slices, wiping the knife, warming, and drying the knife after each cut. Wrap leftovers in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.

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