Rose Shortbread Cheesecake

By Haley P. Hines • Photography by Brian W. McDonald

For shortbread crust:

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt. Knead until dough forms. Divide into 6 equal pieces. Carefully press each piece into the bottom of a miniature (4-inch) springform pan. Prick several times with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes, or until almost done.

For cheesecake filling:

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rose water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
Pink or red food coloring

Fill a large baking pan with water; place it on the lowest rack of the 350°F oven. Beat together cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, thoroughly stirring between each addition. Stir in lemon juice, rose water and vanilla. Beat in cream until silky and light. Gently mix in a small drop of pink or red food coloring to make a pale rose batter. Evenly divide cheesecake batter over each shortbread crust. Tap each pan against the counter to release air pockets.

Reduce oven to 275°F. Place miniature springform pans in water-filled baking pan. Bake cheesecakes for 30 to 40 minutes, until rising slightly but not crackling at edges. Add more water to pan if needed, but avoid opening the oven as much as possible. Turn off heat and leave cheesecakes in oven for 1 additional hour. Remove cheesecakes from oven and allow to cool before removing from pans. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.