Let me start off by saying that this is possibly the best thing I have ever made.
A couple nights ago, we were invited to a grill-out at Mikey's parents' home, and Amy (his mom) asked if I could possibly bring a salad and dessert. You'll see the salad later, but this is the dessert I decided on- Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Cheesecake with Passion Fruit Caramel.
Now, I had never actually made cheesecake before, so it probably wasn't the best idea to try for the first time when I need to bring dessert to a dinner party with no back-up plan, but that's just how I roll :D. For never having made this, I can honestly say that it turned out next to perfect. It was that good.
The cheesecake filling itself was creamy, yet light due to the mascarpone, and the salty cashew crust complimented it so gorgeously. The pinch of ginger in the crust shined through and added an intriguing aftertaste that had everybody asking, "What is that?"
The real star of the show, in my opinion, was the caramel. Oh. My. Gosh. It was silky and sweet but not too sweet, and basically you could drizzle it on your shoe and I think it'd taste good. The original recipe had a separate recipe for a passionfruit caramel, but I didn't appreciate that it used passion fruit juice cocktail and corn syrup so I made my own from an adaptation of a random recipe for blood orange caramel (which I think would also be awesome and need to try ASAP).
This cheesecake was pretty much the ultimate ending to a great cook-out, and certainly had everyone talking. Mikey, who doesn't even like cheesecake mind you, went back for a second slice which should tell you something right there :). I highly recommend this recipe for your next gathering; trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Cheesecake
recipe adapted from here
- 3/4 cup salted roasted cashews
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature (I used one package of regular and one of Neufchatel which just has 1/3 less fat)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
- 2 8-ounce containers mascarpone cheese
- 1/2-1/3 cup creme fraiche
- 4 large eggs
- passion fruit caramel (recipe below)
- tropical fruits, to decorate (I used 2-3 sliced kiwi)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-ince sides with 2 layers of tin foil. Set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the cashews and brown sugar and finely grind. Add in the flour, salt, and spice and blend for about 5 seconds. Add in the butter, slowly, and blend until mixture is a coarse meal. Add in the egg yolk and pulse until moist clumps form.
- Press the dough into the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides of the pan. Pierce the crust all over with a fork and bake for around 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool crust but maintain the oven temperature.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and salt. Scrape in the seeds of the vanilla bean and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add in the mascarpone and creme fraiche and beat at low speed just until blended, scarping down the sides of the bowl. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition.
- Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan and fill with cheesecake filling. Place the roasting pan in the oven and fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan (it's much easier to fill it with water when it's already in the oven). Cover the top of the springform pan with foil.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, and then check of the cheesecake, lifting the foil. Re-cover and bake for another 30 minutes and then check on it again. Continue to do this until cake is loosely set but jiggles all over when the pan is gently shaken. Mine cooked for about 2 hours total.
- When done, remove the springform pan from the water and set on a rack to cool for an hour. Refrigerate, uncovered until cold, at least 6 hours. (I made mine a day ahead and just kept it in the fridge.)
- To serve, cut around the sides of the pan with a knife and then remove sides of pan. Decorate with passion fruit caramel and sliced tropical fruit. Cut into wedges and serve with more caramel.
Passion Fruit Caramel
recipe adapted from here
- 2 cups passion fruit juice (I used this one)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Bring the passionfruit juice to a simmer over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Cook for about 20 minutes, until reduced to about a 1/4 cup. Strain the reduced juice through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add the cream, stir, and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the sugar and continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until the sugar is lightly caramelized (about 5 minutes). Add in the juice/cream mixture and cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring frequently. Strain mixture through a fine sieve. Refrigerate until ready to use.