Celebrate Valentine's Day by baking these Naturally Colored Conversation Heart Cheesecakes for your loved ones. These heart-shaped cheesecakes are colored and flavored using fruits and vegetables.
It is hard to believe that I created my original Conversation Heart Cheesecakes two years ago. Time goes by so quickly. It was my second Valentine's Day as a blogger and I thought to make cheesecakes to look like conversation hearts was a cute idea.
I never imagined it would become my most popular recipe.
A few of my readers complained that they were made with food coloring, so I wanted to find a more natural way to color and flavor these cheesecakes.
When I made my first batch of heart-shaped cheesecakes I colored them with store-bought food coloring.
I know I use it a lot when making my edible crafts. I've been adding coloring to my white chocolate, which I use to paint lollipops, for so many years, that it just seems like a normal thing to do.
I do, however, realize there are more natural and healthier ways to color our food using fruits and vegetables.
When I wrote my original post about these cute little cakes, I even suggested it. So, now finally, two years later, I've taken my own suggestion and made a batch of Naturally Colored Conversation Heart Cheesecakes.
How to pureé raspberries?
I started by making fruit and vegetable purees. This did take quite a bit of time. For the second time in a few months, I wished I owned a juicer, or at least had a blender. I made do with what I had on hand.
I used mostly frozen fruit, as winter in Ohio isn't the best time to find great produce.
I took about a cup of fruit, in this case, raspberries, heated them over medium heat until they began to break down, smashing them as they cooked.
Removing the seeds.
To remove all the seeds, I then pressed the fruit through a fine-mesh strainer. I really didn't want any seeds in my smooth and creamy cheesecakes, so I pressed the fruit puree through the strainer a second time.
I used this method for my raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I even tried strawberries, looking for a nice red with which to paint the sentiments onto the conversation hearts. I realized the blackberries made the brightest red, so I used them for my paint.
I ended up with a bit more puree than needed to color my cheesecakes, so I just mixed all the extras together and enjoyed a nice glass of juice.
Natural Orange Coloring
Orange was one of the most challenging colors to achieve. I recently used carrots to color the orange layer in my naturally colored rainbow cake, so I tried it. I pureed the carrots using a stick blender but I would recommend using an actual blender if you have one. I added some orange juice to the carrots just to make them easier to blend and to add some flavor. Then I pressed it through a fine-mesh strainer.
It worked great, and shockingly the final cheesecake had a nice pleasant sweet flavor. The cakes had just the slightest hint of carrot flavor. A little orange zest would have been a nice addition, but I had just used orange juice from a bottle.
Flavor and color cheesecake batter using fruit pureé.
So, I had raspberry puree to make pink cheesecakes, blueberry for purple, carrots, and orange juice for orange, I thought about using mango or even peach for yellow but opted instead to go with lemon zest and juice. To punch up the yellow color I added an extra egg yolk.
Green was the biggest challenge. I should have gone with lime, but I hate lime, so I tried kiwi. It did not work, at all. The baked kiwi cheesecakes ended up in the trash. The acid in the kiwi really broke down the cheesecakes. They were runny and they had a terribly bitter, almost metallic taste.
My husband wants me to try making the green with spinach. I used it to make the green layer of my rainbow cake and was surprised that the cake had no spinach flavor. I'll have to give it a try and I'll let you know how it turns out.
Being I was adding juice to my cheesecake batter and trying to achieve nice pastel colors, I reduced the amount of sour cream and eliminated the vanilla. I was pleased with all of the colors except the green.
Equipment and supplies:
- 3 heart-shaped silicone molds
- fine tip paintbrush (new or food only brush)
- roasting pan big enough to fit your heart-shaped molds
- optional, Chicago Metallic Conversation Heart Cookie Cutters/Stamps
This is an abbreviated version of this recipe.
For more detailed instructions, and tips see the original Conversation Heart Cheesecake recipe, here.
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Mix graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and melted butter together.
- Equally divide among 18 heart cavities and press down into an even layer.
- Beat cream cheese.
- Add in sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add sour cream and eggs.
Color cheesecake filling with pureés.
- Divide the cheesecake batter into 6 bowls.
- Add fruit purees, in the amount listed in the ingredients to the bowls, to achieve the desired shade.
- Keep one bowl plain, for white cheesecakes.
- Equally, divide each color into 3 of the heart cavities.
Bake cheesecakes in a water bath.
- Bake in a water bath for 22-25 minutes.
- When done the cheesecakes will look set but will still jiggle in the center.
- I share lots of tips and details about the water bath in the original conversation heart cheesecake post.
Freeze cheesecake hearts.
- Allow to cool for an hour at room temperature, then freeze for at least 2 hours.
TIP: One trick I learned while making these cheesecakes is to cover the molds with a piece of paper towel before freezing. The paper towel will wick up the moisture so that you don't end up with beads of condensation on the cheesecakes.
- Unmold the cheesecakes.
- If they don't come out nicely, freeze longer.
- I actually froze mine overnight and they popped right out of the molds.
Paint on Messages
You can use either raspberry or blackberry puree to paint on the conversation heart sentiments, using a fine-tip paintbrush. I tried both and they both looked nice. The blackberry (two hearts on the right) was darker than the raspberry.
I don't have a very steady hand, so painting letters is a challenge for me. I recently bought a set of Chicago Metallic Conversation Heart Cutters that are cutters on one side and stamps on the other side. I will be showing you a few more ideas using them later this week. I pressed them onto my frozen cheesecakes and they left the perfect impressions. I painted over the letters and I ended up with perfectly spaced printed words. I love it.
If you use the stamps, just be sure to stamp all of the cheesecakes right after they come out of the freezer, then paint. I waited and messed up a few. The stamps stuck to the thawed cheesecakes.
You can see all the pretty pastel colors. The purple might be a bit too bright, but I really loved the flavor of the blueberry cheesecake. It was my favorite. My husband loved the lemon and raspberry. I did too.
As the cheesecakes thaw the colors will intensify. See the difference between the picture of the cheesecakes above and the picture below.
Would I do this again?
They may have been a bit more work than the first time around, but I think the time was well spent.
You may like to make these other conversation heart-themed Valentine's Day recipes.
Originally published on February 3. 2014.
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Use natural flavors to create these cheesecakes shaped like conversation heart candies for your Valentine's Day celebration.
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs 15 squares
- pinch of cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons ½ stick butter, melted
- 16 ounces 2 blocks cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cups sour cream
- blue - 1-2 tablespoons blueberry puree
- pink - 1-2 tablespoons raspberry puree
- yellow- the zest from one lemon 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 egg yolk
- orange - 1 ½ tablespoons carrot puree and 2 teaspoons orange juice
- white - just plain cheesecakes
- green - zest from two limes and lime juice
- red- for painting on the words either blackberry or raspberry puree
Combine graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and butter.
Spoon about a tablespoonful into each heart cavity. Press down into an even crust. Refrigerate until needed.
Beat cream cheese. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and sour cream.
Equally, divide cheesecake batter into 6 bowls.
Add fruit purees into bowl to create a bowl of blue, pink, yellow, orange, green and white batter.
Pour colored batter into heart molds, making three of each color.
Bake in a water bath at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 22-25 minutes.
Cool at room temperature for an hour then freeze for at least 2 hours.
Un-mold and use red puree to paint sentiments onto the hearts.
Keep refrigerated until serving.