When the spice is combined with the creamy filling for the cheesecake, which includes cream cheese, tangy buttermilk, lemon juice and zest, and just the right amount of fresh goat cheese, it creates a wonderful balance of flavors. Along with the buttery gingersnap crust, this is a beautiful and festive dessert ideal for holiday gatherings. No one will miss the pies and whipped cream when you plate the cheesecake drizzled with sweet sorghum (or honey as an alternative). It was the first cheesecake I’ve made where we didn’t share with neighbors and ate the whole thing by ourselves. It was that good.
Buy a soft fresh goat cheese for this recipe. Fresh goat cheese is mild in taste and very creamy and can be found at cheese counters in stores like Whole Foods or at your local cheesemonger. If you’re someone that doesn’t typically like the stronger taste of goat cheese, compared to cow’s milk cheeses, don’t back away and embrace the subtle difference that fresh goat cheese adds to this dessert. The recipe also makes a shorter cheesecake (as you can see in the photographs). It’s not as tall as a traditional New York cheesecake.
Think outside the box this holiday season and create unique and different flavors for your menu planning. Spice things up for your family and guests. Togarashi Cheesecake should be the first addition to that menu.
For ease in removing the cheesecake from the bottom of the pan, cut parchment paper in a round circle to fit the bottom of the pan. Grease the bottom of the paper so it adheres to the pan and pat the ginger cookie crumb crust on top of the parchment paper in the springform pan.
2 cups ginger snap cookie crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon togarashi (I used Bourbon Smoked Togarashi from Bourbon Barrel Foods)
About 1 tablespoon sorghum for garnish
For crust and filling:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together with a fork the cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter until evenly moistened. Press the mixture onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the goat cheese, cream cheese and buttermilk until smooth and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in lemon juice and zest. Add ½ teaspoon togarashi. Mix together. Pour the filling into the pan. Sprinkle the top with remaining ½ teaspoon of togarashi.
3. Place the cake pan inside a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to have it come a third of the way up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed when done.
4. Remove the cake pan from the water bath. Allow it to come to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. To serve, cut around the sides of the cake pan and carefully loosen the pan bottom from the sides while pushing up the bottom to release the cheesecake. Slide the cheesecake onto a serving platter.
Note: If you can’t find togarashi, substitute a little cayenne pepper and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Reprinted with permission from Chef Edward Lee from his book, Smoke & Pickles (Artisan)
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