Food makes me happy. And cooking for friends, gardening (on a little piece of a Brooklyn deck right now), and sharing tasty ideas makes me even happier. So I figured what better way to spread some of this happiness than to start sharing my food, recipes and tips with friends -- some of whom I haven’t met yet. I hope you enjoy...

Monday, September 19, 2011

... And for Dessert

Suggested listening while reading this post: 

It's a little strange: I have almost no sweet tooth, but I love making desserts.  I always taste them (of course) -- and enjoy them -- but I can only take a bite or two, and then I want to eat a pickle.  Except for when it comes to salty or tart desserts, in which case I could eat a few nibbles more...

I especially enjoy making cheesecake, and so for our Labor Day weekend barbecue ( I borrowed from a few recipes I've been using through the years -- including my "pecan & graham" cheesecake crust ( to put together my spin on a Peach Melba. 

This peach raspberry goat cheese cheesecake was a big hit -- a little tart and not overly sweet.  The summery fruit and goat cheese really complement each other nicely, and the topping came together in minutes.  The water bath ensures it cooks through consistently -- just be careful to really well-cover your springform pan in heavy duty foil, or your crust could end up wet & soggy.
"Peach Melba" goat cheese cheesecake
You can make this up to 2 days ahead; I think the flavors really develop nicely over time


For the crust:
- 1 cup of finely chopped graham crackers (I went with honey grahams, but you can use cinnamon too)
- 2/3 cup of finely chopped pecans
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/2 stick of melted unsalted butter

For the filling
(I love Tyler Florence's recipe for "Strawberry and Basil Goat Cheese Cake", which I've changed just a bit)
- 1/2 a box (4 ounces) of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 ounces of goat cheese, at room temperature
- 1 pint sour cream, at room temperature
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:
- 1 peach
- 1 pint of raspberries
- 1/2 of a lemon
- Sugar to taste (start with 1 tablespoon)

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees; while it warms up, heat up 6 cups of water and set it aside once it starts boiling

2) Coat a springform pan in oil or non-stick cooking spray and carefully wrap the outside bottom and sides in heavy duty aluminum foil (make sure your seal is tight, otherwise you'll chance water leaking in once your dish is placed in a water bath and you won't get such a nice crust; after getting a crust wet once I now use 2 or 3 layers of foil to be extra safe); combine your crust ingredients and press them into the bottom of your springform pan and bake for 10 minutes on the middle rack of your oven

3) Take your crust out of the oven after 10 minutes, and mix together your cream cheese, goat cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and juice in a stand mixer or food processor and pour this filling into the pan, on top of the warm crust

4) Put the filled springform pan in the middle of a big roasting pan; you're going to want to pour the hot water into the the roasting pan around the springform pan until the water reaches 1 1/2 to 2 inches high

5) Bake the cheesecake for 40 minutes; when it's ready it should be firm on the edges but still just a little jiggly in the middle; let the cake cool in the springform pan before transferring it to your refrigerator to chill

6) About 20 minutes before serving it's time to make the topping; peel your peach and top the cheesecake with thinly sliced pieces; add your raspberries to a warm, un-oiled pan on the stove-top and cook them down on medium-high heat; stir them often since they'll quickly start turning to sauce; and as they reduce, add in a squeeze of lemon juice and a little sugar; carefully (the sauce will be hot) taste the sauce and adjust the sugar and lemon to suit your taste; once you have a nice sauce consistency, remove the raspberries from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes before spooning over the peaches on your cheesecake.  Enjoy!

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