Hello, faithful food lovers – I have an apology, a cheesecake, and some news for you. The apology is thus: Sorry I haven’t been around to talk about sugar highs and fresh baked delights for a really, really long time. My life has been a little topsy-turvy lately, and things kind of got away from me. Which brings me to the news: I’m actually not gonna be around much, for awhile. I have officially moved to San Francisco to pursue my masters degree, and between being a full-time grad student, working two part-time jobs (it’s expensive out here, yo) and living in such an incredible and amazing city, I don’t forsee a whole lot of free time for baking in my near future. I knew this was coming when I signed on here, and I have to say it’s bittersweet. Baking and writing for EP has been a whole lot of fun and I hope to come back to it regularly when things calm down a little here. (So, John: please don’t take away my login! In the words of my esteemed governor, I’ll be back.)
And now, for what you’re here for: a farewell cheesecake! For most of August it was really, really hot in Urbana, so I didn’t much feel like baking in the traditional, oven-on sense. I DID feel like having my friends over for one last cake party, though. So when I found a no-bake cheesecake with a lovely and unusual twist in the August Martha Stewart Living, I went for it. I give you, with very few modifications (but some, because that’s just how I am):
No-Bake Goat Cheese and Mascarpone Cheesecake with Balsamic Cherries
Butter (for your pan)
1.5 cups graham crackers, beaten or food-processed to a pulp
3 tblspn melted butter
2 tblspn sugar
Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to taste
Butter a 9″ springform pan liberally. Mix together your ingredients and press them into the pan, and refrigerate (or freeze) while you make the cake.
4oz cream cheese at room temperature
4oz mascarpone cheese at room temperature
2oz soft goat cheese at room temperature
1 cup of sour cream
2/3 cup sugar, divided into 1/3s
1 tblspn vanilla
1 tbslpn lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
Beat the three cheeses, the sour cream, 1/3cup of the sugar, the vanilla and the lemon juice in a large bowl until very smooth. Try it with your finger or a spoon and marvel at how you never really though goat cheese would be good in a cheesecake, but totally is. Don’t eat it all with the spoon. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream and the other 1/3cup sugar on high until medium to stiff peaks form (or until soft peaks form and you’re really tired of standing there, but medium to stiff peaks are preferable.) Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture and spread into your chilled crust. Freeze for at least 2 hours, or however long you can stand to leave it in there and not eat it. There’s no way I left it for two hours, probably more like 45 minutes, and it was squishy but delicious. The longer you freeze it, the less squishy it will be, although I do not think it will in any way affect its deliciousness.
1/2 lb sweet cherries, pitted and halved (frozen is OK if, like me, you don’t feel like pitting half a pound of cherries, but fresh is probably better.)
balsamic vinegar to taste (don’t skimp, the balsamicity is half the fun.)
1 tblspn cornstarch
1 tblspn water
cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and freshly ground pepper
Bring about half of your cherries, the sugar, the vinegar, and your spices to a simmer in a saucepan. Cook, stirring, until squishy. (This is a very squishy recipe.) I mean really squishy, kind of jam-like. Whisk together your cornstarch and your water, and add the mixture to the saucepan. Simmer for another minute or so, then remove from heat and stir in the remaining cherries. Squish it a bit if you like, but part of the appeal is having some of the cherries still have their shape while the others are all syrupy. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Once you are ready to serve it, just plate the cheesecake, drizzle a bit more balsamic vinegar on top in a pretty pattern, and top with some freshly ground pepper. You can add your cherries to the top to serve, or let people add them as they like to their individual slices – up to you. And please note that most of the ingredients you are using (goat cheese, mascarpone, etc.) traditionally come in containers twice as big as you are using. This is good. Once you make one of these things, you will totally want to make another one right away to have all to yourself. In fact, perhaps you should anticipate this and make twice the cherry mixture to start with. Mmmmm, it was really good.
And that’s all for now. It’s been really fun, guys, and I hope to be back again soon. If you are in San Francisco, look me up and we’ll go eat some cupcakes.