Crème Fraîche Cheesecake with Sour Cherries

 

Until college, cheesecake was one of those foods that I was a little bit scared of.  It seemed wrong to me that people ate cheese in a cake for dessert.  Granted, I had never tried it... but the whole concept didn't sit well with me.  This all changed when L's Aunt Ellen visited us in New Haven from New York City and brought with her an assortment of truly incredible mini-cheesecakes.  I was skeptical only until the first bite and since then I've been a cheesecake convert.

My dear friend J alerted me to this unusual recipe in the NY Times a few weeks ago.  I say "unusual" because I don't usually think of cheesecake having goat cheese in it and I was concerned about what this would do to the flavor.  Rest assured, it just makes the cheesecake better.  The combination of cream cheese, goat cheese and crème fraîche is dynamite and the sour cherries drizzled on top really make this dish.  I also love adding dishes that can be entirely prepared in advance to my repertoire.  The other unique aspect of this recipe is that the cheesecake doesn't have a crust.  The lack of crust highlights just how tasty the cheesecake is, but if you prefer to have one any graham cracker crust would pair well.

Crème Fraîche Cheesecake with Sour Cherries
From the New York Times 

FOR THE CHEESECAKE:

1 1/2 cups cream cheese
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups crème fraîche
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 large eggs 

FOR THE CHERRIES:

2/3 cup sugar
2 pints sour cherries, pitted
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. 

1. To make the cheesecake, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with foil and place on a baking sheet.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and goat cheese until very smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until no lumps remain. Beat in the crème fraîche, vanilla and pepper. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions, and beat until combined.

3. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 250 degrees and bake until the cake is just set (it will still wobble a little in the middle), 45 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. While the cheesecake is cooling, make the cherry topping. Pour the sugar and

2/3 cup water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the cherries and balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cherries soften and release their juices, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to a bowl. Continue cooking the liquid in the pan until the sauce reduces by half, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir the cherries and any juice from the bowl back in.

5. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake from the pan before unmolding and serving with the cherry topping.

Yield: One 9-inch cheesecake.