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Daniel's Pizza Pasta Cafe White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Butter or nonstick cooking spray for greasing pan
1/2 C. slivered almonds
1 C. graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C. sugar
4 T.  melted butter
1 t. almond extract

4 (8 oz.) packages Philadelphia brand cream cheese, room temperature
2 C. sugar
6 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 C. high-quality sour cream (such as Breakstone's)
1/2 C. chopped white chocolate
1/2 C. quality raspberry jam, thinned with 3 tablespoons water

3/4 C. sour cream
3 T. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 C. raspberry jam
1 T. water

Block of white chocolate, at room temperature, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the inside of a (10-inch) springform pan, or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Wrap the outside bottom and sides of the pan in two layers of aluminum foil. Set aside. Also have ready a baking dish large enough to hold the springform pan in a bain marie, or water bath.

Spread slivered almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan gently every 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned.

In the bottom of the springform pan, combine almonds, graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and almond extract, and mix until well-combined. Lightly pat crumb mixture onto bottom only of pan, spreading evenly across the surface.

With a mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time; do not over-mix. Add vanilla and sour cream, and mix just until well-blended. Fold in white chocolate. Pour mixture into prepared springform pan.

Pour jam on top in a spiral pattern, then gently stir in jam, leaving swirls visible.

Place springform pan in baking pan, and fill baking pan with water to a depth of 1 inch. Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes until set and lightly browned. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in oven for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and let cool, overnight if possible. Run knife along sides, and loosen sides of springform pan.

In a bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, vanilla, raspberry jam and water until smooth. Spread on top of cheesecake. If garnishing with white chocolate, carefully shave off curls with a cheese plane or vegetable peeler, and scatter curls over top of cheesecake.

Makes 12 servings.

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