Monday, April 23, 2012

VANILLA-ALMOND MASCARPONE CHEESECAKE with VANILLA CREME FRAICHE

almond cheesecake (10)
Vanilla and almond are synergistic flavors that are perfect for a cheesecake.  Thanks to the addition of mascarpone, this cheesecake is super creamy and smooth.  You can serve this cheesecake as is, and it will be sumptuous with a subtle almond flavor.  A vanilla crème fraiche takes it over the top. 
If you’re worried that you can’t eat a whole cheesecake, don’t fret.  Cut it into quarters after it’s thoroughly chilled.  Place the quarters you won’t be eating right away into the freezer, uncovered, for about two hours, or till hardened.   Wrap individual quarters in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.  Remove quarters when needed and let thaw on counter for 1-2 hours before eating.

Vanilla-Almond Mascarpone Cheesecake
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

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Crust:
1 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs (about 1/2 package)
1/4 cup almond meal, or finely ground almonds
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 325F.  Combine ingredients in small bowl.  Mix with fingers or fork till well combined.  Pat onto bottom, and about 1/2 inch up sides, of an 8” spring form pan than has been wrapped in two thicknesses of tinfoil.  Press lightly with flat-bottomed cup to even crumbs. 
almond cheesecake
Bake 8-10 minutes, till set but not browned.  Cool completely.

Vanilla-Almond Mascarpone Filling:
8 oz. mascarpone
1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
16 oz. Neufchatel or cream cheese (I used Neufchatel)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla powder, or vanilla extract (I used homemade vanilla powder.)
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. almond liqueur (Decrease if you use vanilla extract)

In work bowl of food processor, pulse mascarpone and sugar till combined.  (It may not be smooth.)  Add Neufchatel (or cream cheese) in four portions, pulsing till smooth after each.
almond cheesecake (2) Add heavy cream.  Sift cornstarch over, then pulse till combined.
almond cheesecake (3) Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing only till barely combined after each addition.  Be careful not to over mix. 
almond cheesecake (4) Scrape sides and bottom.  Add flavorings and pulse till combined.  Spoon filling over cooled crust.  Place spring form pan in a large shallow pan containing an inch of very hot water. 
almond cheesecake (5) Bake at 325F until center barely jiggles when pan is shaken, about 1 hour.  Cool on wire rack one hour.  Run a plastic knife or spatula around edges of cheesecake to loosen sides. 
almond cheesecake (7)Refrigerate one hour, uncovered.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least four hours, or overnight.  Remove sides of pan.  Serve with vanilla crème fraiche and toasted sliced almonds, if desired.

Vanilla Crème Fraiche:
3/4 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 Tbsp. vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla powder, or vanilla extract
2 tsp. honey

Combine cream and yogurt in small bowl.  Let sit, covered, several hours or overnight at room temperature.  When thickened, stir in vanilla and honey.  Refrigerate.

4 comments:

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Mmmmmmm my mouth is watering just reading this and looking at your photos :) Diane

Coleens Recipes said...

That first photo is a knock out!! Love the tutorial, great post.

Juliana said...

Wow Judy, this cheesecake with almond mascarpone looks awesome, so creamy and so flavorful.
Hope you are having a great week :)

April @ The 21st Century Housewife said...

This looks absolutely wonderful - what a lovely dessert! I like the vanilla / almond flavour combination - delicious!