Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring some favorite Thanksgiving recipes from Paula Lambert, stellar cheesemaker, iconic entrepreneur and founder of Mozzarella Company. To begin the series, we thought we’d begin with this dessert that’s perfect for your Thanksgiving table. It’s the perfect savory/sweet blend.
1-1/2 cups crushed ginger-snap cookies
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into quarters
2 cups (16 ounces) softened Cream Cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces) crème fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Poire William or pear eau de vie brandy, optional
¾ cup (4 ounces) candied ginger slices
Lightly butter the sides of a 10-inch by 3-inch springform pan.
For the Crust, combine the gingersnap crumbs and the butter in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the ginger snaps resemble cornmeal. Pour the crumbs into the pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan, about 1/4-inch thick, and as far up the sides as possible. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
For the Filling, cut the pears into large chunks, place in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and process to chop finely. Add the cream cheese and crème fraiche or sour cream. Process for about one minute until fluffy. While the processor is running, gradually pour in the vanilla and sugar through the feeding tube. Add the eggs through the tube, one at a time, beating all the while. Add the ginger and finally the Poire William. Turn off the processor and pour the batter into the springform pan atop the chilled gingersnap crust. Tap the pan gently on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles.
Place the springform pan on the baking sheet, transfer the baking sheet with the pan on top to the oven, and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The cheesecake should be slightly risen and still have a little liquid in the center. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon to allow the heat to escape. Leave the cake undisturbed in the oven for 1 hour. It will finish cooking in the turned-off oven. Don’t worry if it cracks.
Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cake rack to cool for 1 hour. Once the cake has cooled to room temperature, cut ¼ of the candied ginger into very thin slices and garnish the top of the cake, covering any cracks in the cake with the ginger slices and making free-form designs by lightly laying the ginger atop the cake.
Chop the remaining candied ginger into small pieces. Slide the cake onto a serving plate and, using your hands, spread the chopped ginger on the outer sides of the cake and allow the excess to fall onto the serving plate around the base of the cake. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
To serve, slice the cheesecake with a sharp, thin knife dipped in warm water and dried before each slice.
Keep following along over the next few weeks for more of Paula’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes!
Copyright © 2007 by Paula Lambert, Cheese, Glorious Cheese, all rights reserved
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