With this sophisticated, beautiful dessert you’re getting three phenomenal recipes for the price of one. And, seeing as they are all free, this may be the bargain of the year. I didn’t include the crispy graham cracker streusel in the title, because it wouldn’t all fit on one line (one of my unwritten rules.)
The star is the creamiest cheesecake you’ve ever tasted (Note, I didn’t say “one of”) baked in individual ramekins, soufflé dishes or custard cups, crowned with an absurdly sweet-tart rhubarb-raspberry sauce, sprinkled with crunchy bits of graham cracker streusel. Definitely my newest favorite dessert.
The original recipe from Food & Wine suggests baking the cakes in 4 ounce ramekins. I thought they would be too small, so I baked my first batch in 6 ounce soufflé dishes. The verdict: 5 ounces would be perfect. Men ate the entire 6 ounces, but the women left about a quarter. (After a big dinner, I had trouble finishing 6 ounces, although Kart thought they were perfect.) I am writing the recipe as it was originally written for 4 ounces, but be creative and use whatever small dishes you have in your cupboard.
The trick to making the cakes creamy is to not overbake them. When you shake one gently, the center should jiggle slightly—-20 to 25 minutes should do it, if your oven is well calibrated. They will continue to set-up while they sit in a turned off oven for an hour.
As with all cheesecakes, make sure your cheeses are at room temperature, so they can be mixed perfectly smooth.
Recipes with rhubarb are cropping up all over, but, unfortunately, mainstream supermarkets aren’t picking up on them. Whole Foods near me has finally gotten it in, so if you are inclined to make this recipe, run and grab it now. You can always cut it into pieces and freeze it. When using frozen, after defrosting, you can go right ahead and cook it as directed. Look for the reddest stems available; they will make a more vibrant sauce. Unless they are exceptionally tough, it isn’t necessary to peel them.
If you don’t have St. Germaine (elderflower, liqueur), don’t feel like you need to run out and get it . The compote is extremely flavorful without it. If you do have it, add a little to some vodka with a little sugar syrup for a fantastic gimlet.
If you can’t get rhubarb, you can substitute any fresh raspberry or strawberry sauce. You might use the Raspberry Sauce in my Set-It and Forget-It Meringue Torte, Click HERE.
The first time I made this dessert, by the time I got to the streusel I thought, “This is ridiculous. Way too much work for one dessert.” But after making it, I feel differently. It is really simple to make and can be made whenever you like; it keeps for weeks and freezes perfectly.
Three terrific recipes, each one a stand-out on its own. Put them all together and you have far more than you’ve bargained for—a dessert that you will be proud to serve to the most discriminating guests.
CHÉVRE, LEMON & POPPYSEED CHEESECAKES with RHUBARB-RASPBERRY COMPOTE
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for coating the ramekins
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 pound rhubarb, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 tablespoon St.-Germain liqueur or elderflower cordial, optional
1 pint raspberries
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from 1 sleeve)
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1, Make Cheesecakes: Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray eight 4 ounce ramekins with vegetable oil spray and dust with sugar; tap out the excess. Set the ramekins in a large roasting pan.
2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, goat cheese and the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar until smooth. Beat in the zest, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Beat in the sour cream. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the poppy seeds.
3. Divide the mixture among the ramekins and set the pan in the oven. Carefully add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheesecakes are just set. Remove from the oven and let cool in the water bath for 1 hour. Refrigerate the cheesecakes until cooled completely, 3 hours or overnight.
To Make Ahead: Cheesecakes can be refrigerated overnight.
4. Make Compote: In a medium saucepan, let the rhubarb, sugar, and salt stand until slightly juicy, 20 minutes. Add the zest and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla, St.-Germain and raspberries and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the compote to a bowl and let cool.
To Make Ahead: Compote may be refrigerated overnight.
5. Make Streusel: Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and lemon juice until fluffy. Beat in the graham cracker crumbs, flour, salt and cinnamon. Scatter the streusel onto the baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.
6. Bake the streusel for about 20 minutes, until fragrant, golden and firm. Let cool completely, then crumble the streusel.
To Make Ahead: Streusel may be stored at room temperature for several days or frozen.
7. To Serve: Run a thin knife around the cheesecakes and invert them onto plates. Spoon the compote on top and garnish with the streusel crumbs. Serve right away.
Makes 8 servings.
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM FOOD & WINE