Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Almond Roca Cheesecake

Like many of you out there, the holiday season is one of the favorite times of the year. There is a certain crispness in the air here in the Bay Area along with beautifully decorated stores, restaurants and city streets. A bit of magic is indeed. Traditions abound at this time of year. Not quite sure of the exact number of years that a wonderful group of my friends and I have been having our annual ornament exchange party, but it is something that we all look forward to.

We typically take turns hosting at the various houses. This year was quite busy for many, so I volunteered to host. Since I love to entertain, it was really not a burden at all, in fact I was quite pleased to host two years in a row.

{We are a "shoe free" house like Martha Stewart}

We divide among the group who will bring appetizers and desserts. This way we can exchange new recipes, have variety and it lessens the stress level for the host. In addition, each person graciously brings a favorite bottle of wine to enjoy.

In my previous post, I highlighted my chosen signature drink for the evening – The Ginger Martini. Bring out your inner Mixologist the next time you throw a party and choose a signature cocktail to impress your guests. You add a bit flair and fun to your event.

I have known all of the guests for a good number of years. Even though we do not see each other as often as we would like, it feels like no time passed when we do get together. Time just seems to propel faster and faster each year. I believe that we need to enjoy every moment we have, appreciate everyday and know that friends and family are such important components to our lives.

The ornament exchange portion of the party is really fun.  Each person really takes pride in their selection of an ornament.  We draw numbers to determine the order.  Stealing an ornament creates the "fun" part and is frozen after the third steal.  Numbers in the middle tend to have a good selection however, if you are a strategic couple, you can form an a partnership to aquire your desired ornament. Some strategy, but mostly just plain fun.

Over the years, I have challenged myself to perfect the art of making cheesecake. Finally, I found the right balance of ingredients. This core cheesecake recipe is perfect for adapting, by changing the crust and topping ingredients.

Ever since being a kid, Almond Roca has been a favorite sweet, so I thought - let’s add to the cheesecake. To marry with the Almond Roca, a perfect compliment would be those thin, delicious almond cookies. You can find them at Trader Joe’s or your local supermarket. With the final touch of the homemade caramel, it is slice of heaven on a plate.

Almond Roca Cheesecake

At least 2 hours before you begin, set the cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream on your kitchen counter because it’s essential that the ingredients be at room temperature before you mix the batter.

Almond Cookie Crust

3 C. Almond cookies, finely ground
1/2 cup granulated sugar
10 T. unsalted butter, melted

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Use a food processor to ground the almond cookies. In a medium bowl, combine the almond cookie crumbs and sugar. Stir in the 10 Tbs. melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan before putting the crust in. This will enable you to slice the finished product from the bottom and transfer to a plate of your choice. Dump the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan that’s about 2-1/2 inches deep and press them firmly into the bottom and about halfway up the sides. Bake until the crust is fragrant and warm to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack while you prepare the cheesecake batter.


4 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 C. granulated sugar
2/3 C. brown sugar
1 1/2 t. Cornstarch
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 C. sour cream, at room temperature
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. vanilla extract

Using your kitchen aide mixer or equivalent, beat the cream cheese with the sugar at medium-low speed until the mixture is smooth and somewhat fluffy, approximately 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Beat in the cornstarch. Beat in the eggs on low speed, one at a time, mixing the batter for only 15 to 20 seconds after each egg is added, just until it’s incorporated, and scraping the bowl each time. Don’t over beat. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat at low speed until well combined.

Baking the cheesecake

Wrap the outside of the pan tightly with two sheets of extra-wide heavy-duty aluminum foil to make the pan waterproof. Pour the batter into the prepared crust; it should cover the crust completely and come to within about 1/2 inch of the pan’s rim. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan and carefully pour hot water into the roasting pan until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake at 350°F, until the top of the cake is golden brown and the center only has a slight jiggle, about 1 hour 10 min. to 1 hour 15 minutes.

Let the cake cool

Remove the cheesecake pan from the water bath, remove the foil wrapping and set the pan on a wire rack. Let the cake cool on the rack until barely warm. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours or overnight. The cheesecake will firm up during chilling.

Caramel Sauce

1 ½ C. sugar
¼ C. water
½ t. lemon juice
1 C. heavy cream

Stir sugar, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat; boil without stirring until the mixture turns deep amber brown. This should take about 9 minutes. Take off the stove and hold over the sink before pouring the cream mixture into the sugar mixture. It will boil and bubble. Once calmed down, add to back to the burner and reduce slightly over medium low heat for about 8 minutes. Chill until thickened. Put into another container and slightly heat when ready to use.

Serve the cheesecake

Unclasp and remove the side of the springform pan, and then use a wide spatula to transfer the cake to a serving plate. Add the Almond Roca around the top of the cheesecake and push down slightly. The caramel should be slightly warm to spread on the top and just touch the Almond Roca pieces. Put back in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to firm up the caramel. Then slice with a warm knife for clean sliced and run under hot water as needed.


  1. It looks wonderful. I love almond rocas- they're addictive!

  2. Wow...that looks so rich and yummy! I would gladly eat this and ask for seconds!

  3. This looks delicious! Would love to bake this too. Bookmarking it! Thanks for sharing:D

  4. This Almond Roca Cheesecake is should be taking orders for this beautiful dessert. What a fantastic variety to an already favorite dessert!

  5. I LOVE Almond Rocas! What a great idea to make an almond roca cheesecake. It looks amazing and so good! I love the idea to use almond cookies for the crust too, so creative. :)

  6. Beautiful cheesecake. It's almost too pretty to cut into....I stress almost. ;)

  7. This really looks so yummy! I love almond roca so I bet I will love your cheesecake too!

  8. What a fun time, almond roca has always been a favorite of mine too...This cheesecake is beyond drool worthy! The ornament exchange sounds like such a cool idea, love that :)

  9. Looks great and almond roca is the bomb diggity!

  10. Wow, your Holiday party looked like so much fun and I love the ornament exchange...AND that Almond Rocha Cheesecake looks to die for - This is going on the list!!!
    - Butter

  11. So much to say, where to begin? First - this cheesecake looks amazing. I love almond roca. My friend got married on Halloween this year so she had a huge candy buffet out as her homage to halloween. I filled up on the almond roca and ate it for days after. Second - each person brings a bottle of wine? That's awesome. And third, ornament exchange sounds like so much fun. You should post up pictures of the ornaments you've received in past years :) That would be fun to take a look at.

  12. delicious cheesecake lovely pictures

  13. This cheesecake has to be one of the prettiest I have ever seen. I would love to be invited over to your house (for many reasons, but this cheesecake would certainly be one of them!) And I love the ornament party you and your friends throw each year. It sounds so much better than white elephant! Thank you so much for sharing with me today. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  14. Thanks for sharing these recipes Lisa, you really make entertaining look relaxing and fun. You share some great ideas as well as recipes, have a nice weekend:)

  15. Lisa, what fun! You're such the perfect host! Everyone looks so happy. I have to say, though, that you had me at Almond Roca, one of my favorites. You've just reminded me to pick some up!

    Have a great weekend and see you soon!

  16. Wonderful idea to include almond rocas in a cheesecake! Yours looks beautiful, and delicious...nice and tall the way I like cheesecake!

  17. recipe instructions call for cornstarch, but none listed in ingredients. How much do you need?

    1. Thank you for your question. I inadvertently left that out and have updated the recipe. Hope you have a wonderful rest of your Sunday!


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