My dearest beloved Cheesecake,
It's me again. I swear, I tried to stay away, but like a mermaid in the sea of desserts your siren song came drifting over the waves of sugar and pastry. I couldn't resist. You are a dangerous temptress in the post holiday frenzy of finally having the time to get my body back into some sort of shape and the ability to stay away from those mountains of desserts that crowded me during the previous months.
I know it's not you Cheesecake, it's me. I get weak in the knees when it comes to you. I simply lose all of my constitution. I could try to blame Abby Dodge too. After all she was the one who came up with the idea to use you for the inspiration for #baketogether this month. But the truth of it is, when it comes to you Cheesecake, how can I say "no"?
I realize I should have run the other way (my thighs would have thanked me for the extra exercise). Instead I found myself dreaming up new variations for Abby's recipe. I was pulled to the idea of a Persian inspired cheesecake since I've been cooking from that region this month. I resigned myself that I was going to fall for your wiley ways again. I flipped open an Iranian cookbook to the desserts section and began perusing the pages.
Then it happened, I turned a page and there staring me in the face was a recipe for baklava. Ohhh baklava, another one of my favorite treats. What would happen if I combined the flavors of baklava with you Cheesecake? Would it be like having a small slice of heaven on my plate? Well *sigh* there was only one way to find out.
I took the different components of baklava; almonds, cardamom, rose water, lime, honey, and pistachios, and started to rework them into a creamy concoction. I was thinking of a cardamom toasted almond crust, with a rose water lime filling, and topping you off with some crushed honey roasted pistachios.
As always Cheesecake, you came together beautifully. The hardest part is knowing how creamy you will be and still having to wait until the next day to have a small slice of you. Cheesecake, you are always such a tease, filling my house with all of your wonderful smells and then making me wait.
So here it is, Valentine's day, and I get to serve my family a rose scented cheesecake. You are everything I wanted you to be, you never disappoint. Cheesecake you are the perfect dessert for Valentine's day. Because, let's face it, everybody needs a little cheesecake love.
I'm hoping that I will be able to stay away from you for awhile now. That maybe you will go and tempt someone else. You're no good for me Cheesecake, but I'll always come back to you.
Rose Scented Cheesecake With a Cardamom Almond Crust
Adapted from Abby Dodge's Classic Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
(Makes 12-14 servings)
For the crust:
- 1 1/2 cups of ground almonds
- 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
- 1/4 cup of melted butter
For the filling:
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- A small pinch of salt
- 1 1/3 cups (9 3/8 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup of rose water
- Zest from 2 limes
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup of unsalted pistachios
- 1/2 tablespoon of honey
- 1/2 tablespoon of butter
To make the crust:
- Heat the oven to 375°F. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a piece of aluminum foil and clasp the outer ring over the foil so the edges hang outside the ring. In a medium bowl, stir together the ground almonds, dark brown sugar, and cardamom until well blended. Drizzle with the melted butter and mix until well blended.
- Dump the crumbs into the springform pan and cover with large piece of plastic wrap. Place your hands on the plastic wrap and press the crumbs about 2 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan.(The plastic wrap will keep the crumbs from sticking to your hands.) With the plastic wrap still in place, redistribute the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan and firmly press down to make a compact layer. I like to use a metal measuring cup with straight sides and a flat bottom for this task.. Bake until the crumbs are fragrant, about 12 minutes and set on a rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
To make the filling:
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, flour and salt until very smooth and no lumps remain. It’s very important for the cream cheese to be lump free at this point so stop and scrape the beater and sides of the bowl frequently. Add the sugar, sour cream, rose water, and zest from the limes and beat until well blended and smooth, stopping to scrape beater and bowl several times. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just blended, stopping to scrape beater and bowl before each addition. (Don’t over beat the filling once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much.) Tap the bowl several times on the counter to release some of the air bubbles. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Using the tip of a small knife or a toothpick, pop any air bubbles on the surface.
- Bake at 300°F until the center jiggles like jello when nudged, 63 to 68 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight or up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen up to 1 month.
To make the topping:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the pistachios in a bowl.
- Melt the butter and the honey together until the butter is melted and stir to combine. Toss woth the pistachios.
- Spread the pistachios out on a parchment lined cookie sheet and roast for 5-10 minutes, until you can smell the pistachios and they are slightly browned.
- Once the pistachios are cooled put them in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the pistachios are like a coarse crumb.
Have a flat serving plate ready and close by. Unclasp the pan’s ring, remove it, and using the excess foil, gently nudge and lift the cake to be sure it’s released. Using the foil, carefully lift the cheesecake and slide it onto the serving plate and center it.. Tear off one side of the foil close to the cheese cake. On the opposite side of the cake, gently pull the remaining foil out from the cheesecake. (If you are topping the cake with something yummy, do so now.) Run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.
*Get a printable version of this recipe here*