Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blood Orange Cheesecake with Toasted Almond Shortbread Crust

6 TBS butter, softened
1 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. ground toasted almonds*
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground orange peel

3 - 8oz packages of Neufchatel cream cheese, softened
8 oz plain non-fat Greek yogurt
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. fresh squeezed blood orange** juice
1 TBS fresh grated blood orange peel
1 tsp pure vanilla
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325. Place one rack on bottom level, one in center. Lightly butter the sides only of a 9-in. springform pan. Place on a double thickness square of heavy-duty foil. Securely wrap foil around bottom & sides (about 1/4 inch up) of pan.

In a small bowl, soften butter (do NOT melt); add the flour, sugar, ground almonds, ginger & orange peel; mix with fork until crumbly. Gently press onto the bottom of prepared springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven & set to cool slightly on wire rack.

Pour water into an 8-inch metal pie pan until half full. Place on bottom rack of oven after baked crust is removed. (This will keep the cheesecake from cracking when it bakes.)

In a large electric mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and yogurt on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar, mixing until well blended. Add flour, blood orange juice, blood orange peel, and vanilla; beat until well combined & smooth. Add eggs one at a time; beating on low speed of mixer until well blended after each addition.

Gently spoon cheesecake batter over crust, spreading evenly.

Place cheesecake pan on center rack of oven. Bake at 325° for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until center is just set and top appears evenly dull. The top of the cheesecake should be at an even height or just slightly lower in the center & turning just lightly golden around the edges.

Remove cheesecake from oven & set on a wire rack to cool. Loosen sides from pan with a knife; cool on rack for 1-1/2 hours.

Refrigerate several hours or overnight until cheesecake is well chilled. Carefully remove sides of springform pan, slice & serve.

*To toast almonds, place single layer of almonds in glass pie plate & place in oven as it is preheating. Roast for 6-10 minutes. Watch closely so they do not burn. Allow to cool, grind in food processor.

**One large fresh blood orange should yield more than enough fresh grated peel & juice.