4-6 Ripe Peaches
2-3 Tbs Sugar
4 TBS Butter, melted
1 Bag Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies
2 eight oz pkgs of Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 C Ricotta
1 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 C Sugar
Pick the sweetest, most fragrant peaches you can find, that give a bit when squeezed, but not so much that they are mushy. Peel and cut into bite sized pieces, sugaring them only enough to enhance their flavor, just one spoonsful at a time then taste. Reject any that aren't already flavorful without the sugar. Set aside to allow the juices to accumulate while the cake is made.
For the Crust: Melt 4 Tbs of Butter in the microwave, which we will add to one full bag of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies in the food processor. I know of no other suitable substitute for their buttery sweet shortbread flavor so don't choose anything else. Really. The cake and topping are both light on sugar and are balanced by the richness of this crust. Start the food processor running with all cookies first then pour in the butter and stop when all is damp and darkened by the butter. No sugar is added to this because the cookies are sweet enough. Bake at 375 in a 9 to 9-1/2" springform pan for about 15-20 minutes or until just slightly browned and a bit darker around the edges.
When it smells irresistible, you'll know you're on the right track.
For the filling either rinse the bowl of the food processor (superior method) or use an electric mixer to thoroughly blend the cream and ricotta cheeses, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon juice, and sugar into a smooth batter. *A note about the cream cheese: it MUST be very soft to blend well. I heat mine, out of the pkg, on a plate for almost a minute in the microwave or until it is slumping off the plate, otherwise you will have unevenly blended pieces of white cream cheese bits throughout your imperfect cheesecake in the end.*
The filling may seem fairly thin and liquidy, almost like pancake batter. That's OK. It will be just right when baked! Scatter and submerge the berries which will turn bright fuchsia-pink as the cake cooks. If using fresh blackberries, pop them into freezer on a cookie sheet for an hour or so. This keeps them from falling apart or bursting and staining the entire cake an ugly purple. If you purchase frozen berries, get the dry pack type and feel the bag to make sure they are individually frozen and moving around like little marbles in there, not one solid chunk.
Make sure each is pushed just below the surface of the batter, using your finger or a chopstick. You can use the back of a spoon if you prefer, just don't disturb the berries much and your reward will be a most lovely dotted slice of cake with luscious whole berries therein.Bake at 375, checking it at 30 and 45 minutes. It may even take an hour depending on the exact size of your pan and temperamentality of your oven. The middle should be set and not wiggly at all when lightly shaken. Allow to cool several hours on counter (and even overnight in fridge) before cutting. If the sides have not pulled away from the edges, run a thin sharp knife all the way around before unbuckling the springform to remove, then slide onto a large platter with base of pan intact. Only top with peaches if you're serving the entire cake immediately. (Unfortunately, you'll have a soggy cake the next morning if you store it topped, such are the powers of the juicy peach.) Just spoon some peaches over each slice as they are plated and store the remainder separately if you intend to attempt to make this baby last more than 24 hours!
Jan Burke. http://dailydishinblog.blogspot.com/