It’s great when an experiment works! And that’s just what happened last week.
Alpha Pi Charitable Organization sisters hold our business meeting in members’ homes, and we “team hostess” these monthly gatherings with dessert and coffee. I like to take my turn in February and try to come up with a Valentine-appropriate treat, so I decided to try my hand at a decadent dessert with a seasonal twist.
Fresh raspberries had been calling to me; granddaughter Tabby is in the midst of her Girl Scout cookie drive, and after buying my customary two boxes I discovered I still had one of last year’s in my freezer. To be honest, I’m not much of a store-bought cookie fan, but who can say no to a grandchild?
Okay, what could I make from Girl Scout Trefoil — shortbread — cookies and raspberries? Then I watched TV cooking queen Paula Deen make some delicious-looking raspberry crumble bar cookies, and that was my inspiration.
I decided to eliminate the crumble, make a traditional cheesecake filling, bake it on a shortbread cookie crust and add raspberry jam for color and texture.
I crushed, beat and baked — with the results being pronounced delicious at our meeting and seconded by team Marek-Dullea, my willing neighboring tasters.
It was a success. Pretty to look at, delicious and creamy. And, although Valentine’s Day is past, this would make a very nice Easter dessert.
By the way, I used seedless jam and it wasn’t the easiest to find. I guess most prefer the jam with seeds, but I wanted to keep the smooth texture of the cream-cheese filling and I liked the results.
This should work with any kind of fresh fruit from peaches to apricots and nectarines as well as berries. A mixture of blueberries and raspberries or strawberries for July 4 is a thought.
In any case, while this is a little time-consuming to make, my sorority and neighbor guinea pigs’ kudos made it all worthwhile.
RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE SQUARES
2 nine ounce boxes Girl Scout Trefoil cookies*
1-1/2 cubes butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
16-ounce jar seedless raspberry jam
juice of 1/2-lemon
2 eight ounce blocks cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
16-ounce container sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Crush cookies in a food processor. Keep processor running and add salt, melted butter and vanilla. Process until mixture is slightly damp. Coat bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Firmly press cookie mixture into bottom of pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
Melt raspberry jam with lemon juice over low heat and spread over baked crust, reserving about four tablespoons for decorating the top. Mix cream cheese with sugar, vanilla and eggs until smooth and pour over jam. Return pan to oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until filling is set.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Mix sour cream with two tablespoons sugar and vanilla and pour over cooked filling. Dot with reserved jam. Using a toothpick, gently swirl jam into sour cream mixture for an attractive topping. Return to oven and bake for another 5-7 minutes.
Cool completely before refrigerating. Serve topped with fresh raspberries and a generous dollop of whipped cream.
*any short cookie may be used; just weigh out nine ounces.
Long-time Valley resident Elaine Revelle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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