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Cherry Brandy Cheesecake

Ingredients

Cherry Brandy Sauce

  • 32 ounces frozen dark cherries, thawed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup cherry brandy
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Cheesecake Crust

  • 2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
  • 7 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey (slightly warmed)

Cheesecake Filling

  • 4 (8-ounce) packages reduced fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 (3 ounce) package lady fingers
  • 1/4 cup cherry brandy

Brandy Mascarpone Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 1 tablespoon cherry brandy
  • Confectioners' sugar to taste

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Instructions

  1. Cherry Brandy Sauce: Bring all ingredients to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid has reduced by about half. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, place cherries and liquid in a blender and puree.
  2. Cheesecake Crust: Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.
  3. Mix crust ingredients thoroughly. Pour mixture into the pan and press into the bottom and halfway up the sides.
  4. Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool on counter.
  6. Cheesecake Filling: Ingredients should be at room temperature.
  7. In a medium bowl blend Neufchatel, sour cream, vanilla bean paste, honey and sugar. Add whole eggs one at a time, blending thoroughly between each addition.
  8. Clean beaters. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly fold egg whites into cheese mixture until just incorporated.
  9. Line the cooled crust with a single layer of lady fingers. Brush lady fingers with cherry brandy. Pour about a third of the cheese mixture over the top of the lady fingers.
  10. Lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups cherry puree onto the cheese mixture, leaving 1/2 inch of space from the edge of the pan. Pour the rest of the cheese mixture over the cherry puree.
  11. Wrap pan with aluminum foil to the top of the pan and then place pan in a deep roasting dish. Add boiling water to the roasting dish until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
  12. Bake at 325 degrees F for 45 minutes. Do not over bake. The center will still be soft and wiggly.
  13. Let cool on counter for 45 minutes.
  14. Lightly cover with clear wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  15. Serve with remaining cherry sauce and whipped cream.
  16. Brandy Mascarpone Whipped Cream: Beat whipping cream to firm peaks. Beat mascarpone and brandy until soft. Gently fold mascarpone in small batches into the cream. Add sugar to taste.