This cheesecake was the finale to my husband’s birthday dinner. There were no surprises here, my husband has simple tastes and knows what he likes and for dessert it was this cheesecake. The original version, or inspiration, for this cheesecake is from Pastiche’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a Raspberry Coulis. For years, everyone in my family has loved this cheesecake. It’s so good that when you first take a bite of it you can’t think for a moment. It is so lovely, whipped like clouds and so very smooth on your palate. It is the ultimate form of decadence. We arrive early to Pastiche, just so they don’t sell out of this incredible dessert. You chocolate lovers out there may not agree, but there’s enough love to go around.
Here I come along and try to mess with perfection. I add lime zest, my ode to Miami and the amazing Key Lime Pie I had there and I changed the fruit around because the apricots at the market were so gorgeous, that I simply could not resist. The color, oh my, too beautiful for words, light orange with a slight blush developing on the sides. I scooped those babies up and picked up a pint of strawberries, with the stems still attached. I don’t know if I’m brainwashed, but I’m convinced that strawberries with stems taste better than ones without.
Since introducing my husband to Pastiche’s cheesecake, I have recreated it for him several times. In all honesty, I think the base for the recipe came from the inside of a Philadelphia Cream Cheese Box. Over the past few years I have adapted it and added my own flair to it. I wish I had the patience to make homemade graham crackers for the base, but when you’re making cheesecake you’ve got to be totally crazy to make homemade graham crackers for the crust. Totally crazy. Instead, I use amaretti cookies and almonds, and they work together quite nicely.
My husband had the boys over for his birthday dessert. My husband, becoming too macho in front of his friends, didn’t want me to put candles on his cake or have him cut it, as I had planned. Perhaps, he should rethink his favorite dessert–Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, doesn’t sound that macho to me.
Vanilla Bean Lime Cheesecake with Stewed Strawberries and Apricots
1 cup of amaretti cookie crumbs
3/4 cup ground almonds
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons raw sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter
a pinch of salt
16 ounces of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/4 cup heavy cream
zest of 1 lime
10 apricots, pitted, peeled, and cut into segments
1 pint strawberries, stems removed and quartered
1/4 cup sugar (use less or more depending upon the sweetness of your fruit)
juice of 2 limes
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together all the ingredients for the crust in a bowl and press into a 9″ springform pan. Bake the crust in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Prepare the filling by creaming together the cream cheese, ricotta, sour cream, and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour, vanilla beans, and lime zest. Pour the batter onto the cooled crust and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let it cool, then place the cheesecake in the fridge for 6-8 hours.
Prepare the fruit topping by combining the strawberries and apricots with the sugar and cooking them with the lime juice on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture resembles a loose jam. I like to leave the chunks in, but you may puree and strain them out if you wish. Serve the sauce chilled on the side with the cheesecake. Dust some confections sugar and lime zest on top of the cheesecake as a garnish, and also a sprig of mint, if you’d like.
*don’t fret if your cheesecake cracks a little on top, it adds to the homemade feel!