I might be only person who could possibly create a cake out of a salad cookbook, but given that Patricia Wells’ new cookbook Salad as a Meal came out in stores yesterday, baking a cake seemed like a celebratory thing to do.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been participating in the Salad as a Meal Challenge and blogging about recipes from the cookbook. And while it’s been fun, I asked myself how could I make this even more challenging? Or more specifically, how do I take a cookbook focused on fresh, healthy meals and make something decadent and over the top?
The answer: take a recipe for spiced grapes destined for a cheese plate and use it to top cheese…cake. Goat cheesecake.
I made the grapes about a week ago and they’d been pickling in the fridge ever since. The honey and vinegar blend flavored with peppercorns and spices resulted in a complex, sweet and sour syrup that was a beautiful accompaniment to a sophisticated cheesecake. For the spiced grapes, you’ll need to get your hands on the cookbook, but for the goat cheesecake simply scroll below. It’s lovely on it’s own.
18 graham crackers (approximately 2 1/2 cups crushed- digestive biscuits would also work nicely)
6 tbs melted butter
2 tbs sugar
16 oz. cream cheese (In Paris, I substitute St. Moret)
8 oz fresh goat cheese
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsps good vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temp
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease a 9 inch springform pan and wrap the outside tightly with aluminum foil.
2. Melt 6 tbs of butter and set aside. In a food processor, pulverize the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Pour the crumbs (approximately 2.5 cups) into a medium sized bowl. Stir in the 2 tbs of sugar and then mix the melted butter until thoroughly integrated.
3. Pour the crumbs into the spring form pan and press to form an even layer on the bottom and then continue to press along the remaining crumbs along the side walls of the springform pan. This recipe makes ALOT of crust so don’t be alarmed at how high up the crumbs go.
4. Bake the crust for approximately 10 minutes at 350 degrees F so that it darkens and crisps up a little. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. Set the crust aside to cool while you make the filling.
5. In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, goat cheese, sugar and vanilla extract together for a minute or two until thoroughly mixed. The mixture should be fluffy and slightly resemble buttercream frosting.
6. Add each of the 3 eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. When properly mixed, it should resemble a large bowl of vanilla pudding.
7. Spoon immediately into the parbaked crust. It’s really key that if you haven’t already, you wrap the springfoil pan tightly with aluminum foil as it keeps the water from leaking in. Take a large roasting pan and place the springform pan in it. Fill the roasting pan with water until it’s about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees fahrenheit for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still be slightly wobbly in the center when you remove it.
8. Very, very carefully remove the waterbath from the oven and try not to spill almost boiling water all over yourself. Remove the cheesecake from the waterbath and allow to cool in the springform pan on a rack.
If the crust is higher than the filling just cut the extra off with a knife and eat it.
9. When fully cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours. When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and place on a cakeplate.
Serve alone, topped with your favorite fruit compote, or as I did, with Spiced Grapes from Salad as a Meal. I poured a thin layer of the flavorful syrup over the top of my cheesecake, halved all of the pickled grapes and arranged them on top of the cheesecake. It was a messy, sticky operation but whole grapes rolling around the top of a cake seemed like a disaster. Don’t add the syrup and grapes until right before serving as the syrup will soak into the crust otherwise.
The result is a not-too sweet, tangy cheesecake with lots of crust. Best salad ever.