Long, long ago, in a far, far away land (okay, it was Phinney Ridge near the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle), I was the co-owner of a cheesecake business called the Uncommon Cheesecake. My partner and I baked the most extraordinary cheesecakes I have ever tasted, before or since: Grand Marnier with Bitter Orange, Candied Ginger, and Café Mocha to name a few I can recall.
Our flavor combinations were fantastic, but the thing that really set our cheesecakes apart was the fact that we did not over bake them. Nearly every recipe on the planet tells you to over bake your cheesecake. Don’t do it. It’s not required for safety reasons and it is guaranteed to ruin the finished texture of the cheesecake. Likewise for all convoluted processes, such as setting the cheesecake in a pan of water. It’s not necessary.
Dry, gummy, gritty textured cheesecake is the result of–yes, I’ll say it again–over baking. It’s just that simple. Use a solid formula (such as below), don’t over bake, and your cheesecake will be perfection. I promise.
My cookbook, Pacific Northwest Palate, Four Seasons of Great Cooking, features a simple version of this seasonal blueberry cheesecake, which is a league beyond the canned blueberry, graham cracker concoction I grew up with–and adored.
This newest version, however, is even better than that much improved version. I love the way all of the flavors combine here to create a harmonious whole, far greater than the sum of its parts. Blueberries, lime, and rose petals are a marriage made in heaven.
However, if you are not accustomed to the flavor of rose petal in tea, cookies, and desserts, you might want to use the lesser amount specified in this recipe. Rose petal is a dominant flavor and can easily over shadow the more subtle flavor of blueberries.
Blueberry, Lime & Rose Petal Cheesecake
To keep the pastry crumbs crisp, this dessert is slightly deconstructed. Most of the crumbs are served alongside, rather than under, the cheesecake. An added benefit of this plating method is that you can have as much of the pastry crumbs as you like. I like lots. J
Toasted Almond Pastry Crumbs
1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 cup toasted whole almonds
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 10 pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 pound fresh blueberries (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
finely grated zest of 1 large lime
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½-1 teaspoon rose petal extract (the greater amount creates a pronounced rose flavor
Fresh Blueberry Lime Sauce, optional
- Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with vegetable spray. Reserve.
- To make Toasted Almond Pastry Crumbs, combine the flour, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a processor fitted with the steel knife. Pulse to finely grind the nuts.
- Add the butter and pulse briefly just until the mixture begins to resemble fine crumbs.
- Remove the crumbs from the work bowl and distribute evenly over the bottom of an edged baking sheet.
- Bake at 400° for about 30-40 minutes, redistributing the crumbs several times to prevent overbrowning.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan.
- Crush ½ cups of the cooled pastry crumbs and sprinkle over the bottom of the springform pan.
- Crush or crumble the remaining pastry crumbs. Seal in an airtight plastic bag or container and reserve.
- Using a processor or a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Blend in the eggs and vanilla to a creamy consistency.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture slowly over the pastry crumbs in the springform pan, so as not to mix with the crumbs.
- Bake the cheesecake in a 350° oven for 25-30 minutes, just until the outer edges begin to puff only slightly. The center will not appear set. The cheesecake will continue to cook after it is out of the oven. (You know you over-baked the cheesecake if it has a grainy texture after chilling. It should be completely smooth and creamy.)
- Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
- To make the blueberry topping, in a large saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, lime zest, lime juice and cornstarch, and mix well.
- Bring to a full simmer to activate the cornstarch. When the liquid turns glossy, remove from the heat. Let cool for 10-15 minutes only.
- Top the cooled cheesecake evenly with the sauce, let cool thoroughly, then cover with a domed piece of foil, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- To serve, drizzle Fresh Blueberry Lime Sauce, if using, on the bottom of each serving plate. Arrange a slice of cheesecake on top of the sauce and spoon two small mounds of toasted almond pastry crumbs on either side of the cheesecake.