Even though the build-up to Christmas seemed long to me, at least, the holiday itself breezed by quickly. Since my family and I pretty much went all out on Thanksgiving, we scaled down a little bit this time around but it was still a food-filled yet peaceful evening together.
We started out with homemade roasted kabocha soup that’s pureed with ginger and carrots. Velvety, vegetally sweet and the ginger’s spiciness does give it a lovely break from that said sweetness. The plus was it’s easy to make.
The proteins were each person had a simply grilled with salt and freshly ground pepper, 18-ounce Pat LaFrieda porterhouse and in case we didn’t have enough meat in our meal, we also had a ten-pound brown-sugar baked ham that’s spiced with cayenne and smoked Spanish paprika to have the sweet and spicy balance I like a lot in baked hams.
We had a slight nod to the Italian tradition of “seven fishes” tradition by having seared paprika prawns that were large, juicy and succulent. And I baked a batch of miniature and personal-sized spinach and bacon quiches. The crust was store bought puff pastry by Pepperidge Farm. The quiches were really meant for snacking when we have our family tradition of playing stud poker after dinner.
Of course, dinner is never complete without dessert. I’ve probably baked at least two dozen varieties of cheesecakes in my personal baking career and funny enough, my family is never tired of it. As usual, they requested another cheesecake.
I wanted to make a cheesecake that is not as fussy as a normal cheesecake (or even the ambitious Mosaïc cheesecakes I baked from Pierre Hermé Pastries) and a touch healthier. After some searching, I found an (almost) no-bake yogurt cheesecake at Bon Apetit that I liked but wanted to bake my own crust (a pistachio pâte sucrée) from scratch and stuck with cranberries as my topping since I have so many in my freezer. (The recipe is below the slideshow.)
To view more photos of this meal, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):
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Yogurt Cheesecake with pistachio pâte sucrée
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Crust (Pistachio pâte sucrée, adapted from Pierre Hermé Pastries)
150g unsalted butter, softened
95g confectioners sugar, sifted
30g ground pistachio flour (or unsalted, shelled pistachios, finely ground in a food processor)
2 dashes fleur de sel
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 large egg
250g all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
3 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (I used FAGE Total Classic)
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Decorating & Cranberry compote (optional)
1 cup pistachio flour
2 cups cranberries (frozen or fresh)
1 1/2 cups sugar (or to taste)
A 10-inch-diameter springform pan
Coat bottom and sides of pan with nonstick spray. Set pan aside.
In a bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a paddle) or food processor, beat the butter until smooth. Add the ingredients in the following order: confectioners’ sugar, pistachio flour, salt, vanilla, egg, and flour. Mix until the dough forms a ball.
Divide the dough into three pieces, each weighing about 227g (7 ounces). Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours. Keep one portion out ready to work with and place the other two in the freezer for another time.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll out the dough into a round until it is 1/16 inch (2 mm) thick. Transfer it to the prepared springform pan and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove and cool completely.
Place gelatin and 3 tablespoons cold water in a heatproof bowl. Let stand until softened, 5-10 minutes.
Pulse cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt in a food processor, scraping down sides as needed, until completely smooth.
Pour water to a depth of 1/2-inch into a small skillet over medium heat. Place bowl with gelatin in skillet; stir until gelatin dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove bowl from skillet.
With processor running, drizzle gelatin into cream cheese mixture; mix until well blended. Pour into prepared crust. Tap pan firmly on the counter to break up any big air bubbles. Smooth top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 6 hours before serving. Keep chilled and it’s good for 2-3 days.
Decorating & cranberry compote (optional)
After the cheesecake has set, remove the springform pan, carefully transfer to a cardboard round that fits the cheesecake. Take the pistachio flour by the handful and gently press into the sides of the cheesecake. Place it back into the refrigerator.
To make the cranberry compote: Place the frozen or fresh cranberries and sugar into a saucepan and heat it until the cranberries have popped and burst into a thick sauce, should take about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. When ready to serve, spoon the compote over the cheesecake.