10 February 2006

SHF #16: Winter White Cheesecake

Another Sugar High Friday (#16) and the theme this time around is “Recipe for Love”—so apropos, given Valentine’s Day is only a few days away. Thanks to Jennifer of Taste
Everything Once
for building a theme around aphrodisiacs.

Legend has it that a Persian ruler once had a handsome and excellent war-horse. The beast was considered to be fearless and fiery, except for one thing: when the stallion detected the scent of cardamom his fieriness turned from war to amour. The king decided to end such behaviours and have the grooms neuter the horse. The queen found out about this and suggested the grooms simply follow the king’s lead in such matters and drink 20 cups of coffee a day…

Coffee is not an aphrodisiac. Check.

...but cardamom is. BIG check.

In the Near East, many believe those tiny little seeds have potent, amorous effects on people…perhaps this is why cardamom is so often paired with coffee. But not today…not for today’s sweet theme.

I’ll admit to first thinking of chocolate (well, I always think of chocolate), but something slightly out of the norm. And then I remembered a much-requested dessert—my winter white cheesecake: a sinfully wondrous sweet—a white chocolate cheesecake with a hint of cardamom.

My starting point came from The Dessert Lover’s Cookbook. During the past I-don’t-know-how-many years I’ve tinkered and toyed with it and eventually came up with some thing I’m happy to call my own (or at least my variant)—a pie (yes, I subscribe to cheesecakes being pies and not cakes) that’s decadent, with an off-white, creamy and lusciously soft filling topped by a slightly boozy, oozy white chocolate topping. I added cardamom for one purely selfish reason: I don’t really like white chocolate: the spice’s astringency cut through white chocolate’s sweet richness, adding a lovely scent and flavour.

So, is this dish an aphrodisiac? Certain elements fit, but it's up to the eater to experience, isn't it? One could argue that an eight-inch dessert might be a bit much, but it just means there's more fun to be had.

Winter White Cheesecake
175g graham wafer crumbs
60ml melted butter
2t vanilla sugar

Filling (all at room temp)
200g white chocolate shards
80ml double cream
300g marscapone cheese, at room temperature
3 large eggs, separated
4t vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
4 cardamom pods’ worth of seeds, ground finely

100g white chocolate shards
40ml double cream
2T crème de cacao

Putting it together:
Prepare one 8” diameter, 2” high springform pan

Combine all crust ingredients together and press firmly into springform, leaving about ¼” of the side’s top uncrumbed. Then preheat oven to 325F.

For the filling:
Melt white chocolate in a bowl on top of a pot of boiling water, then add cream and stir until smooth; set aside to cool slightly.

Beat egg whites into soft peaks. In a separate bowl, beat marscapone with vanilla, cardamom and salt until soft and fluffy. Then add one yolk at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in white chocolate until fully incorporated. With a spatula, carefully fold in the egg whites so as to not lose their airiness—it doesn’t have to be fully, fully incorporated—a little bit of streaky white is okay.

Pour filling into springform pan and bake until the sides have set and the top is slightly jiggly—somewhere between 45 and 75 minutes. I usually start checking at the 45 minute point and decide how much longer it needs—usually it’s done in about 55-60 minutes, but a couple of times it did take longer.

Turn off the heat and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for an hour. The cake will rise and then fall.

Remove from oven and let cool in a draft-free place until it gets to room temperature. If you are making this in advance, you can tightly wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge until you are ready to pour on the topping—the cheesecake can keep like this for a couple of days.

For the Topping
Melt white chocolate in a bowl on top of a pot of boiling water, then add cream and liqueur and stir until smooth. Pour overtop the cheesecake and let set in fridge for several hours.

Before serving, let stand at room temp for about an hour.




Anonymous said...

Oh, Jasmine! What a beautiful cheesecake - I'm going to have to make this because I love mascarpone!

Jennifer said...

Eight inches? You naughty girl!

Thanks for taking part in this month's Sugar High Friday. Look for a round up in the next few days.

Michael said...

the marscapone did it for me - if I could bath in it....oh no, I have gone too far.

Anonymous said...

You had me at the picture.

The double cream and mascarpone only deepen my love.

Congratulations on having put your own stamp on a dessert! It looks wonderful!

jasmine said...

Hello all

Thanks so much for the kind words -- I also have the measurements for nine- and 10-inch cheesecakes, so let me know if you want those. Personally, I think the nine-inch one turns out best (no more comments on that please!).

Re: marscapone -- I only got into using it a little while ago (for tiramisus). I must admit that I prefer it to cream cheese in cheesecakes-- the end result with m is less tart and seems lighter than with cc.

Ivonne--I am so happy I've found a store around here that seems to bring in double cream outside of Christmas...

Michael: we need to find someone for you, m'dear.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jasmine - this cake looks so beautiful and the recipe sounds perfect - must give it a try some time, thanks so much for sharing.

Christine said...

Cardamom Cheese cake sounds great! I like the idea of using it to cut through the richness of white chocolate.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful recipe, Jasmine, and beautiful photo! White chocolate and cardamom ... oooh, I'm swooning!

Happy Valentine's Day to you and your Picky Eater!!!