Sarah is a die-hard cheesecake fan. She’s had one for just about every birthday since her 5th. For her, the quintessential cheesecake is of the dense New York variety and is probably available in the freezer section of your local Smart & Final.
Thankfully, we’re not purists.
The raw milk cheesecake recipe in Nourishing Traditions is a godsend. We make it with Organic Pastures raw milk, homemade yogurt cheese, eggs from pasture-raised hens, local raw honey, grass-fed beef gelatin and homemade vanilla extract. And that’s it. Even with the nutrient-laden ingredients, the cake is pleasantly light in texture and flavor. It’s great for those of us who are gluttons for rich foods but just can’t put away the sweets like we used to. Ahem.
The original recipe is made with an almond and date crust, which is delicious, but we are all about variating. Other nuts, like hazelnuts, can be used in place of the almonds, or you could go classic and use graham crackers – We have a great recipe for soaked whole grain ones which we’ll have to share later. But this crust is extra special, because it’s made from one of our favorite cookies – Dorie Greenspan and Pierre Hermé’s salted chocolate sablés, aka World Peace Cookies.
The famed cookie recipe can be found in Dorie’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Every recipe we’ve tried from that book (no small number) has come out perfectly, in large part because each one has been thoroughly tested before publishing. Her brioche is a blur of butter and air, and truth be told, impossible to resist. Her cream scones are the absolute best, and they’re equally wonderful when made with sprouted flour. The World Peace Cookies, well, they’re the showstopper.
The first time Sarah made the cookies, she used carob powder in place of cocoa, and homemade carob chips (recipe in Nourishing Traditions) in place of chocolate. They were so delicious that she thought carob was the secret to her success. Turns out that the recipe is just that good – with carob and chocolate alike.
The cookie batter is rolled into logs, wrapped in saran, and refrigerated (or frozen) until ready to slice off and bake. We love being able to bake cookies only as we need them, especially since this recipe makes plenty. After a few days in the fridge the batter develops a glorious caramel-like complexity, but it’s really not necessary to wait that long. We baked and crumbled the cookies, pressed them into a handy 6″ spring-form pan, poured the cheesecake batter on top, and let it set up in the fridge.
We then made a quick cherry compote and allowed it to cool before spooning it over the set cheesecake. Before serving, we whipped up some cream with maple syrup to dollop on top. To unmold the cake, we ran a hot knife around the perimeter and wished we had had the foresight to line our pan with parchment or acetate. Being somewhat gelatinous, this cake has a tendency to stick, but we managed to coax it out without too much damage. The end result was as tasty as it was attractive.
The cheesecake itself was smooth, light and slightly under sweet, which complemented the richness of the cookies. The cherries added color, texture, and mild acidity. Our first inclination was to top it all off with lightly whipped crème fraîche, but straight whipped cream is a nicer foil to the cultured dairy in the cake.
The biggest issue we faced was the crust. It had become, essentially, a 6″ cookie that the cake happened to sit on. Although delicious, It was hard to cut through, due to the dark chocolate chunks and our tamping it down so hard into the pan. It also didn’t adhere well to the rest of the cake, which we had to keep from jiggling its way off its base. If we try the World Peace cookie crust again, we’ll cut down on the chocolate pieces and pack it in a bit looser.
Matters of crust aside, this is an important recipe in the expanding Foodsmiths canon. It allows us to carry on the cherished tradition of unabashed cheesecake consumption on Sarah’s special day without the necessity of feeling like we got punched in the gut afterward. Long live the raw milk cheesecake.
This post was contributed to Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Healthy 2day Wednesdays,What’s Cooking Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Friday Food Flicks, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Food Friday, Freaky Friday and Weekend Gourmet.