I know, it probably wasn't the best, most responsible behavior for early in the morning, but I think you ........ would have probably done the same thing. There we were in our front foyer with the door wide open. The early morning sun was just peeking up over the housetops and dappling summer leaves in the gentle breeze.
Scott (my wonderful husband, photographer, editor and CEO of taste-testing) and I, still clad in jammies, were in the midst of a photo shoot. It sounds a bit crazy, but we've found that during these warm weather months, 7A.M. in the front doorway is the perfect place to capture the light for Café food photos.
If you were a little mouse out for a morning stroll in our neighborhood, you'd probably laugh. You couldn't help but notice the two in the doorway, seriously working with tripod, scrims, reflectors and a honkin' big camera. A little table set against the open door with a scene of small mason jars and a tiny bouquet of berry-flowers set atop bright polka dot cocktail napkins. Moving the cheesecake jars this way and that, changing the angle or height of the camera, tilting the reflectors a little up, a little down, slightly to the left, a smidgen to the right, just a tiny adjustment here and there until finally ... they're satisfied! Whew!
But after spending an hour taking pictures of these Layered Cheesecake Jars, we couldn't stand it another minute. Even though there was steel cut oatmeal waiting patiently on the stovetop, intended for our "healthy" breakfast, we looked at each other and that was that.
We took one of those long slender spoons, slid it down through the sweet ruby red, glistening raspberries, then into the silky smooth, fudgy ganache. But there was more. Next came the lightest, creamiest layer of fabulous cheese cake and last, but definitely not least, a little scoop of golden, buttery graham cracker crust.
One bite and our eyes got big. Wow! We looked at each other. Sorry oatmeal. One statement slipped out of Scott's mouth in between bites; "This is the best dessert I've had in a long time .......... wow!". Yup, I agreed as I scooped down deep for one more delicious layered bite.
I think you'll agree too. Give this lovely dessert a try, but for heaven sakes behave; not for breakfast, please! These layered Mason jar treats are perfect for parties, picnics, potlucks; you can make them ahead, close up the lids and tuck the jars away in the fridge. Pull them out 30 minutes before serving, twist off the lids and add a pretty garnish. Voila! A super delicious, quite dazzling dessert.
Although there are four separate layers to prepare, both the ganache and the raspberry sauce are made literally in minutes .......... in the microwave! And you can actually make the jars weeks in advance and store them in the freezer after cooling. Just hold off on the raspberry sauce layer until after thawing.
The recipe makes 12 8-ounce jars (or 24 4-ounce jars if you prefer smaller servings). Oh, and if you're out taking a morning walk and see a photo shoot going on in a neighbor's front doorway, that would be us! Feel free to check it out and say hello, we always welcome new taste testers!
P.S. If you're not a chocolate lover, these can be made without the ganache layer, still really wonderful!
P.P.S. An update: it looks like they completed the work on our computer and we should get it back later today. They said A LOT of photos have been restored (yeah!!!) but we won't know for sure if it's all of them till we can check it our ourselves. Thanks so much for your kind thoughts and comments. We WILL be backed up from this day forward!! Lesson learned :).
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- Ingredients for the graham cracker layer:
- 12 whole crackers graham crackers about 6.5 ounces, crushed (about 1 ½ cups crumbs)
- ½ cup 100g granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 ounces 113g butter, melted
- Ingredients for the cheesecake layer:
- 3 8- ounce packages 681g cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup 100g sugar
- 1 14- ounce 397gcan condensed milk, sweetened
- 4 large eggs beaten
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- ½ cup 113g sour cream
- Ingredients for the raspberry layer:
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons corn starch
- 1 12- ounce jar strawberry jam I use my Strawberry Freezer Jam, but your favorite strawberry jam will work fine.
- 3 cups 375g fresh raspberries
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Ingredients for the ganache layer:
- 1 cup 240ml heavy cream
- 12 ounces 340g good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the graham cracker layer:, preheat oven to 350˚F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter and cinnamon in a medium size bowl and mix well. Press 2 ½ tablespoons into the bottom of 12 8-ounce mason jars.
Place jars in a 9x13 inch cake pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool slightly while preparing the batter.
For the raspberry layer: combine orange juice and cornstarch in a medium size microwave-safe bowl. Stir till smooth. Add strawberry jam (yes, strawberries enhance the flavor of raspberries) and 1 cup raspberries, stir to combine. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stirring half way through. Remove from microwave and stir in remaining 2 cups berries and vanilla. Smush whole berries slightly with the back of a spoon. Set mixture aside to cool then cover and refrigerate till ready to use.
For the cheese cake layer: beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until very fluffy. Add condensed milk, sour cream and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping bowl after each addition. Beat on high for two more minutes.
Divide batter among prepared jars, about ½ cup in each jar and return jars to the 9x13-inch cake pan. Add enough water to pan to fill the pan ¾ full. Bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow jars to cool to room temperature in pan.
For the ganache layer: place cream in a medium size microwave safe bowl. Cook on high until cream is starting to simmer, about 3 minutes. Remove from microwave and immediately add chocolate chips. Allow mixture to sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly until thick, creamy and all chocolate is incorporated. (This take a few minutes, at first it will seem like it's not coming together but don't give up, it will!)
Divide ganache between jars. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
Divide raspberry sauce between the jars. Leave some space at the top. Screw lids on jars and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days. (To prepare further in advance, see instructions below regarding freezing.) Remove cheesecake from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving for maximum flavor. Serve with long handled dessert spoons to allow guests to scoop up all the layers.
To prepare more than 3 days in advance, prepare through the step 7. Allow to cool then cover and freeze for up to 1 month. To thaw remove from freezer and allow to sit at room temperature for several hours till thawed. Add raspberry layer after thawing.
To make even layers, I use a wide-mouth funnel to add each one.
You can use any type of jam you like. Raspberry would work well as would peach or apricot or blackberry. I really love the combination of raspberries and strawberries.