March 26, 2007

Spring Grilling and a twist on unbaked cheescake

We've been having unseasonably warm weather lately (upper 70's, usually we're in the low 50's) and I've used this opportunity to get acquainted with the massive gas grill and rotisserie that my parents gave me for Christmas (spring grilling is much more fun than spring cleaning). I've done chicken breasts with just salt and black pepper, ribeye with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika (a new favorite), and this weekend I tried out Elise's Smoked Paprika Chicken on my rotisserie.

The chicken, and the whole meal, turned out great. I supplied the chicken and green salad, while Katie brought some sun-dried tomato and rosemary bread. She also brought some fresh mozzarella and cherry tomatoes to make a tasty and simple bruschetta.

The real reason for the night's festivities though, was for me to tryout a recipe that I came up with after seeing the Lavender and Lemon Verbena Limeade on A Fridge Full of Food. I remembered a recipe I tested a couple of months ago for Leite's Culinaria, that involved replacing some of the cream cheese with yogurt in an unbaked cheesecake (I would attribute it, but apparently the recipe didn't make the cut and I don't have a copy anymore, leave a comment if you know the author and cookbook and I’ll update this post).

At the time I remembered thinking that the lavender would be better if it was part of the filling, rather than the crust, and I really liked the zing that the yogurt added. When I saw the limeade recipe an idea came together. I would replace all of the cream cheese with yogurt, but I'd drain the yogurt first and I'd put lime and lavender into the filling. I really like gingersnap crusts (which is strange since I don’t really care for gingersnaps), so I decided to make a fresh ginger gingersnap dough to serve as the crust. I served the cheesecake with strawberries that I macerated in lime juice overnight. Everyone really liked the result, but this morning I've found that the crust is all soggy. In the future I might seal the crust with a thin (very thin) layer of white chocolate so that it can’t absorb all the excess moisture from the filling. Once the crust was a little soggy though it reminded me of the cookie part of a Nabisco Fig Newton - I haven’t had one of those for years!

I hope you enjoy the recipe and if anyone tries it, please leave a comment and let me know how it goes.

Lavender Lime Yogurt Cheesecake


About 3 cups drained yogurt (see comments below)

1 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar (divided)

1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers

1 key lime


3 tablespoons butter, softened

1/6 cup molasses (I don't particularly like molasses, so I diluted it with corn syrup)

1/6 cup corn syrup (My liquid measure also doesn't have 1/6 markings so I just eyeballed it and made sure the total of the two was 1/3 cup)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (I use a microplane)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt


1 pound strawberries

2 key limes

¼ cup sugar

1. The night before you want to serve the cake, prepare the strawberries.

2. Rinse the strawberries and slice thinly into a container. Zest (with a microplane, you want the zest small) the two limes over the sliced strawberries. Sprinkle the sugar over the zest and strawberries. Juice the two limes and add the juice to the container. Cover the container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Prepare the crust. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

4. Put butter, molasses, fresh ginger, and crystallized ginger in a mixing bowl. Mix well.

5. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix until all the ingredients are evenly blended.

6. Using your fingers press the dough into 9-inch springform pan. You want a very thin layer on the bottom and a thin layer going evenly up the sides. The dough is sticky so you may need to sprinkle it with some flour as you work. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the dough seems firm. Allow to cool.

7. Prepare the filling. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the lavender as finely as possible. Place in a small bowl. Zest the lime with a microplane and place zest in the same bowl. Juice the lime and mix the juice into the lavender and zest.

8. Place the yogurt in a medium bowl. Add the lavender-lime mixture and 1/3 cup sugar. Blend thoroughly.

9. In another cold bowl begin whipping the cream. As the cream begins to thicken sprinkle the sugar into the cream and continue whipping until you have firm peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the yogurt mixture until evenly incorporated.

10. Scrap the yogurt/cream mixture into your cooled prepared crust and smooth the top. Place in the refrigerator uncovered for at least 4 hours to firm the texture and make it easier to cut.

11. Cut into slices with a warm knife and serve with a mound of the macerated strawberries.


To prepare the yogurt, line a mesh colander with four layers of damp cheesecloth (get it wet and then wring it out), and place over a large bowl. I had a 32-ounce container of lowfat yogurt and about 2 cups of lowfat yogurt from an open container. I placed all of this in the colander and folded the cheesecloth over the top. Let the yogurt drain for at least 12 hours. I had just over 3 cups of strained yogurt.


Freya and Paul said...

The chicken AND cheesecake look great and are satisfyingly alliterative too. Yum!

krys said...

Oh, that cheesecake looks so good! I can't really imagine what the combo of lavendar and lime tastes like, but I NEED to find out.