Monday, August 18, 2008

Love Dish: Goat Cheesecake with Balsamic-Basil Blackberries

Goat cheese? Balsamic vinegar? Basil? That’s right, dear reader. The ingredients may be a little unusual, but this is a wow ’em dessert, and I guarantee it’ll be your new favorite summer cheesecake recipe.

(The cheesecake recipe was adapted from a version by Tyler Florence, and the basil-blackberry topping was inspired by a crumble dessert created by Jamie Oliver. Thank you, gentlemen).

2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
¾ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

1 8-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
8 ounces fresh goat cheese at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 pint (2 cups) sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon

2 pints fresh blackberries
1 handful finely chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp honey

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Set a sauce pan filled with water over high heat to boil.

For the crust:
Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients with a fork. Pour into the pan and press the crumbs down into the base and about 1 inch up the sides, using the bottom of a flat glass or measuring cup. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.

For the Filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and goat cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add the sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla and mix briefly to combine. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl often. Be careful not to overbeat the batter. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan (the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake). Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook it. Remove cake from the water bath and let cool on the counter for 30 minutes, then chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours.

Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula or knife around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Pour the blackberries over the top (recipe below). Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut.

For the blackberries:
In a small saucepan, add the balsamic vinegar, sugar and honey and stir to combine and dissolve the sugar. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat; allow sauce to boil gently for 1 minute. (Be careful not to boil too long as the sauce will become a syrup). Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour over blackberries, add the chopped basil, and stir gently to combine.

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