Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gluten-Free Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Sweets for Your Valentine

We always seem to make something sweet and delicious for Valentine's Day.

This year is no different. In that respect.

But it is time to try something different. Some sweet we don't normally make.

Not the same, fantastic gluten-free shortbread cookies. Not gluten-free red velvet cake.

Cake? Hmmm...

How about cheesecake?

Yes, how about it?

Well, most have a graham cracker crust, which makes them off limits for anyone who needs to be gluten-free.

But not so if I am baking said cheesecake myself. I can make gluten-free graham crackers.

But here, since it is Valentine's Day and raspberries are begging to be involved, I'm going to step it up to chocolate graham crackers.

My plain-Jane version of gluten-free graham crackers are the best tasting graham crackers on the planet. Or off the planet.

Adding chocolate can make them better, right?  Time to test this theory.

Gluten-Free Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

First, we have to start with the bottom. Bottom's up first.

No, not a bottle. Bottom of these cheesecake bars.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Graham Crackers

I've made these gluten-free graham crackers before. Many times. Except this time, I added chocolate.

Chocolate. The perfect accompaniment to both cheesecake and raspberries.

1 2/3 cup brown rice flour
3 1/2 Tbsp potato flour
5 1/4 tsp tapioca starch
1/3 cup + 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
3 to 4 Tbsp cold water
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp gluten-free vanilla

If you have a food processor, now is the time to get it out. Your life was never so easy as it is now with a food processor to make your graham cracker dough in no time flat.

Add all dry ingredients to the food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Drop pieces of butter into dry mix and pulse many times, letting the dry mix fall back to the center each time. Add 3 Tbsp cold water and pulse several times. Add honey and vanilla, pulsing several times while adding.

If all of this hasn't come together into one, big, uniform mass in your food processor, then add the last tablespoon on cold water and pulse. Once it all comes together, it should be easy to pull it out and make a ball of dough.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Roll half of the dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Cut into 2 x 3-inch pieces and prick with fork. Transfer to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until done around the edges.

Repeat with other half of dough. Or not. You might just eat this dough raw. Look Ma! No eggs!

When they are baking, don't bother looking for the classic "golden brown" indicator of doneness. You wouldn't know if they ever got "golden brown," since they are already "chocolate brown."

Most people don't make shapes with graham crackers, but we used cookie cutters.

Okay, okay. They didn't all look like this.  Most of the chocolate graham crackers were just rolled out any-which-way and baked. Not even cut into crackers or cookies. The ones above are for the pictures.

And here's why the rest are just any-which-way. You break them up and process them into bits in the food processor. Yep. 

Make and bake and then obliterate.

Now we are ready to make cheesecake bars!

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Rolling right into the recipe for the bars, take those crumbs and mix in 5 Tbsp of melted butter, stirring to coat the crumbs evenly. Then press the crumb and butter mixture into an even layer in a 9 x 9-inch baking pan, flattening and pushing up some crumbs about a half an inch up the sides of the pan.

Then bake this at 350º F for about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 250º F.

Now we are ready for cheesecake!

1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed (it's February, after all!)
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs + 2 large yolks
1 Tbsp gluten-free flour (I used brown rice flour)
1 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract
4 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled

Toss thawed raspberries and 1 Tbsp sugar into your food processor and blend until smooth. Strain mixture through fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding seeds and solids in sieve. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese and remaining sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and yolks one at a time, blending well between each addition. Add flour and vanilla and mix just until combined.

You should have already melted and cooled your white chocolate. I did not. Do it now and fold it into the cream cheese and egg mixture.

Pour cheesecake mixture over cooled crust and spread evenly. Drop a few drops of raspberry puree on top in your favorite pattern.

With it being Valentine's Day, we couldn't miss out on the opportunity to incorporate more hearts. Start with drops of puree, then drag a toothpick through the drops. 

Voilà! Hearts! (sort of)

Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, just until the center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack, then cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Cut and serve, probably with more gluten-free chocolate graham crackers, like I did!

These have a classic, rich cheesecake flavor, but the raspberry flavor is subtle. Understandable, since there really isn't much raspberry puree used. But nice. You will have to savor the raspberry flavor in each bite.

Very nice!

And now I'll let you in on a little secret.

Those gluten-free "chocolate graham crackers"? Yeah, those? They taste just like Oreos without the middle icing.

Really. They do. And this has been confirmed by the certified, authentic taste testers in my house. They are experts, after all!

Happy Gluten-Free Valentines's Day!

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