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New-fangled CHERRY CHEESECAKE

Fruit-filled, sous-vide, light and fluffy, this is the most flavourful cheesecake you will ever have

Welcome to the Cheesecake Revolution. This new ingredient-method mashup gives you a unique type of cheesecake: one with the fruit flavour in the batter, not on top.

I devised this cheesecake recipe for my audition for the first season of The Great Canadian Baking Show. Sad to say that I did not make it on, but the producers were incredibly gracious and I left the audition feeling lucky to have been invited to participate. What do you think—should I audition again? Maybe let me know after you’ve tried this cheesecake. 

This recipe is special thanks to two things: the miracle of sous vide cooking, and freeze-dried fruit. At the time, this was a really innovative use of ingredients and method, although both commonly used by foodies now.

Freeze-dried fruits are everywhere nowadays, but I first learned about them when I saw this post on the Serious Eats website by the brilliant Stella Parks (aka Brave Tart): Super Thick Fruity Food Processor Whipped Cream

Freeze-dried cherries are available all year around.

The idea is that you pulverize freeze-dried fruits with sugar into a fine, Kool Aid-like dust, and then blitz it with whipped cream. The fruit is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs some of the moisture from the cream, leaving an extra-thick, smooth, fully flavoured whipped-cream topping. I thought, if you can do this with cream, why couldn’t you do it with cream cheese? I wanted a cheesecake that was flavoured throughout, not just plain vanilla with fruit on top. 

Looks like chunkier Kool Aid.

Well, turns out that if you try to beat fruity sugar into your cream cheese, it doesn’t get all that light and fluffy.  But if you add to it the sour cream and let it sit while you make the rest of the batter, it supplies a fulsome, hearty flavour to your batter. 

Where it got tricky in devising the recipe is that you need granulated sugar to help aerate the cream cheese as you beat it, too. Obviously sugar in the cream cheese AND sugar in the fruit could lead to a cloying, tooth-aching mess. But both require it. So I had to reduce the sugar in each part of the recipe as much as possible while keeping it at a functional base level. Too little sugar in the cream cheese and your cake will be dense. Too little sugar in the fruit mixture and your fruit powder will harden as it is processed. After several trials, I hit a version that is just right.

This recipe owes much to Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Cordon Rose Cheesecake from her classic Cake Bible (as does my Banana Chai Cheesecake recipe, for those who love spice). I tried to replace the lemon juice with cherry juice, but it needed the tang to avoid being overly sweet. I’ve increased the amount of cream cheese to make up for the absorbent fruit powder. I’ve increased the vanilla both to add liquid and make a more assertive base note to complement the cherry flavour.

Once you try this cheesecake, you’ll be sharing it with all your friends. My taste testers were certainly enthusiastic, agreeing that all the experimentation along the way was well worth it. If you don’t have a sous vide device, you can cook this batter in the usual way. It just won’t be as fluffy and light, but then some people prefer a cheesecake that is more dense.

Almond cookies make the perfect crunchy accompaniment to this mousse-like cheesecake. @somachocolatemaker

Top with freshly made cherry sauce, crumble amaretti, and top with whipped cream. Or dark chocolate sauce on freshly pitted cherries. Or mixed berries, or lemon curd, or….you get the idea.

New-fangled Cherry Cheesecake

This original cheescake uses freeze-dried fruit to saturate the batter with cherry flavour. Sous vide makes it lighter and fluffier, but you can make it in a traditional cheesecake pan and water bath as well.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: #cheesecake, #cherrycheesecake, #sousvide
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Theresa

Equipment

  • Sous vide device or oven
  • Mason jars, 16 x 4oz, or 8 x 8 oz jars OR cheesecake pan
  • Stand mixer
  • Food processor or mini-chopper

Ingredients

  • 3 pkgs cream cheese Philidelphia brand, if possible
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 12 tsp freeze-dried cherries (60 grams)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cherry flavouring 
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  •  Attach your sous vide device to a heatproof container, then fill ¾ full of water. Preheat to the water to 80 °C or 176 °F
  • Make the flavoured cream first: into the bowl of a food processor (small bowl or mini-chopper if you have it), pulverize the cherries with ½ cup of sugar until it mostly resembles a fine dust. A few little pieces are okay but bigger chunks mean you need to pulse a few more times. Stir into the sour cream and let sit. 
  •  Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and blend with remaining 3/4 cup of sugar using the whisk attachment. Beat for 3 minutes on medium high speed until light and smooth, scraping down the side as needed.
  • Add the egg yolks one at a time on medium low speed, scraping down the sides after each addition
  • Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  • Stir fruit and sour cream mixture again, trying to make sure as much of the fruit sugar has dissolved as possible, squelching any little pockets you find with a brisk stir.
  • Beat into the cream cheese mixture gently until fully incorporated, no more.
  • Cast the batter into your jars using a ladle or serving spoon. Fill to just below the rim, leaving about a half inch of space between the cheesecake and the lid. Screw on fingertip tight (see here) and place gently in your preheated water bath. Use tongs if you like to avoid getting splashed by hot water. .
  • Cook for 90 minutes.
  • When they are done, use those tongs again to remove the jars to a tray or a flat tea towel on a hard surface. Let them sit until they have cooled to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight. 
  • Top with freshly made cherry sauce, crumble amaretti, and top with whipped cream. Or dark chocolate sauce on freshly pitted cherries. Or mixed berries, or lemon curd, or….you get the idea.

Notes

  • If the cherries aren’t powdered with some sugar they can turn sticky and hard.
  • If the bowl of the food processor is too big, the cherries won’t pulverize into a small enough pieces.
  • Cherry flavouring is really strong – err on the side of caution. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Add with care.
  • This recipe works really well with freeze-dried raspberries as well, and I’m sure blueberries would do too. Strawberries tend to be too mild in flavour to stand up to the tang of the cream cheese and sour cream.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Plum & Blackberry Galettes with Hazelnut Frangipane

I’ve wanted to do a plum pie since Cook’s Illustrated rebooted the concept with a Plum Ginger pie in their last spring issue. I thought adding blackberries would be an original way to give it some depth, but a quick online search told me that combo has, of course, been tried a million times. The thing is, it’s usually done with Chinese 5-spice, or more ginger and cloves and orange, and while I love all that, it makes me think of Christmas more than summer.

I did not want to let the fruit sit too long in the sugar, as it does in their recipe, since it would release a lot of liquid that be too much for my little hand pies. I added a hint of Frangelico to make it stick to the fruit after a quick toss. Another dollop of Frangelico in the nut mixture worked again to intensify the flavour.

I made these galettes with purple plums first, then yellow. Both were good partners for the blackberries, and both benefitted from the softening effect of the bed of crushed hazelnuts. Almonds are the more obvious pairing with stone fruit (they’re related), but the earthiness of the hazelnuts combats the tartness of the plums.

With purple plums leave the skins on. It adds colour and retains the shape for defined slices. With the yellow plums, the sweet flesh can be overwhelmed by the tartness of the skins. I left them on and found them quite sharp. They were fine in a pie mixed with purple plums, where all the fruit was baked in the syrup that formed when they were left to rest in sugar for 20 minutes. For the little galettes, I might peel them and use the pretty blackberries to disguise any indistinguishable yellow plum flesh.

You can make one big galette, but smaller ones are great for individual portions (social distancing!) since there’s no need to cut and serve. You plop them on a plate and let people head up to the table one at a time.

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Seasonal plums and blackberries go nicely. Hazelnut base takes it to the top!

If you want to make pie instead of galettes, I would make both the pastry and the plum filling the day before, and add the blackberries just before you fill the crust. Letting the plums macerate for a good long while makes them swim in a gooey sugary syrup that would be too much liquid for the free-form galettes. But that same sweet nectar will bake into a delightful jammy mess in a deep dish. No need for the frangipane, but if you want a little nut flavour, you can line the bottom crust with some store-bought almond paste. No shame in that at all.

Gooey but tasty!

I used Brave Tart’s (Stella Park’s) Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Dough Recipe, because it holds its shape well, especially when it’s had a day to firm up in the fridge. And it’s delicious.

Plum & Blackberry Galettes with Hazelnut Frangipane

Small, rustic, freeform pies loaded with seasonal fruit on hazelnut paste.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Canadian, French
Keyword: #fruitpie, #pie, blackberries, galette, galettes, hand pies, hazelnut frangipane, hazelnut paste, hazelnuts, plums, Stone fruit, Summertime
Servings: 8 portions

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients

  • 1 batch basic pie dough

Plum & Blackberry Filling

  • 2 cups sliced plums, skins on (from 1½-2lbs plums)
  • 1 cups blackberries
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Frangelico
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Hazelnut Frangipane

  • ¾ cup hazelnuts, toasted and cooled
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • I tbsp Frangelico
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp water
  • crystal sugar, to finish the crust

Instructions

  • Divide pie crust into 8 equal pieces by cutting it in half, then in half again. Roll out each piece into a rough 6 inch circle and stack them up on parchment paper. Refrigerate for two hours minimium. This is a great step to do a day ahead.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Rub loose skins off hazelnuts, leaving any that cling. Grind hazelnuts and ⅓ cup sugar in the food processor into a fine paste, 2-3 minutes. Add butter, flour, Frangelico, salt, and egg. Pulse until smooth and set aside.
  • Slice your plums into ¼ inch wedges and toss with ½ cup sugar and Frangelico.
  • Beat egg with water and set on the table next to all the other components. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and have a pastry brush handy.
  • Add a heaping tablespoon to the centre of a disc of dough and spread in a circle, leaving a 1″ border. Brush the border with egg wash. Spoon some fruit onto the frangipane, and fold the edges in, tucking each fold into the next, making little nests for your fruit fillling.
  • Brush egg wash over outer ring of pie dough, and sprinkle with large crystal sugar, if you have any. Otherwise regular sugar will do.
  • Pop them into the oven and cook for 35-35 minutes, checking after 30 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the plums and blackberries entirely softened.
  • Cool on a wire rack for one hour. Serve with ice cream, if you like. Or just eat out of hand, without even taking the time to get a plate.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!