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This is one helluva cheesecake. I’ve made it on two occasions thus far: once for my friends’ Roaring Twenties birthday party, and once for a Valentine’s Day dessert competition. There’s something magical in the way that lemon, raspberry and tangy cream cheese come together and explode on your taste buds. Based on initial “very scientific” testing, baking this cheesecake may result in: spontaneous giggling, silence (people were eating), grandiose monologues, and impromptu marriage proposals. I can assure you that there will be many, many more of these to come. Proposals, I mean. (Kidding!!!)

Raspberry Swirl Lemon Cheesecake 

For the crust:

1 pkg. honey graham crackers, crushed into pea-sized bits (crumbs are fine)

1 cup raw walnuts, finely chopped

1 stick (approx. 1/2 c.) of unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:

3 pkgs. american neufchâtel cheese (this is normally near the cream cheese, costs the same, but tastes better)

3 eggs

1/4 c. milk

zest of one lemon

1/2 c. sugar (I like my cheesecake on the tangy side, but if you want it sweeter you might want to increase this amount to 3/4 c.)

3 T. flour

2 tsp. vanilla

For the raspberry swirl:

8 ounces of fresh raspberries, rinsed

1/4 c. sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 390 °F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine crushed graham crackers, walnuts, and melted butter. Stir until everything is evenly coated. Transfer to an 8″ springform pan. Use a flat-bottomed measuring cup to press the crust into the pan, including the sides. (Don’t get discouraged if the sides fall, I usually have to repair a few.) Set aside.

2. Next, in a large mixing bowl (or mixer) blend the neufchâtel cheese until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add your sugar, vanilla, flour, and lemon zest, mixing thoroughly. Run a spatula down the sides to loosen any cream cheese stuck to the bowl. Mix once more and set aside.

3. Purée the raspberries and sugar together.

4. Here, I “cheat” the swirl by pouring the raspberry mixture into the cheesecake mixture. Stir ONLY SLIGHTLY (maybe four or five swipes through the bowl). You’ll see the swirl as you slowly pour the filling into the crust.

5. Bake at 390 °F for 45 minutes, or until done. (You can test this by “jiggling” the cheesecake pan a little. If the middle of the cheesecake isn’t set and responds like batter, let it bake longer. If it responds like jello, it’s done.)

6. Turn off the oven and crack the door, but let the cheesecake sit there for another 10 minutes. This allows the center to set without splitting. Usually.

7. Cool completely and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Garnish as desired. (Pictured: homemade sweetened vanilla whipped cream and fresh raspberries.)

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