I don't know why I've never made cheesecakes before. I'm sure you'll agree that the combination of tangy cream cheese, sour fruits and a rich biscuit base create nothing less than a symphony in the mouth. On my recent trip back to Auckland, I was pleasantly surprised by the new bakeries and cafes that have popped up around town. One that I have been raving about to everyone I've met ever since is "Little Bird Organics" on New North Road. They like to call themselves an "unbakery" because not only is everything in the cafe organic, it is also completely raw! I have to be honest, at the beginning, I was a little cynical. Just how can you have a raw bakery? Even the concept is oxymoronic! So of course I made the trip out to Kingsland to taste test their creations and feed my curiosity. I purchased some delicious coconut macaroons, some organic white tea and a raspberry mini cheesecake. The mini cake was the triumph of the day as it reminded me of how simple and delicious cheesecakes can be. The experience has been playing so much in my mind ever since, that I knew I had to try to make my own when I got back to Paris.
I then remembered that Natalie Smith had asked me to base a cake on another object after I had done the "candle cake" for Curio Noir for the Simon James Design blog. My muse this time is the bow ring by London-based fine jewelry designer Jessica McCormack. I tried to think about the kind of flavors that can be associated with diamond rings, and couldn't really come up with anything that wasn't so farfetched. So I did a little research and found out that these bow rings were inspired by the 1983 collection by French fashion house YSL.
The dresses featured huge pink bows which combined playful femininity and classic symbolism. So from this, a flavor profile slowly started to come together.
I knew I wanted to use rosewater to symbolize the classic and romantic nuances of the ring's design. I paired it with a compote of French sour cherries "Griottines" - a very traditional french ingredient, which will emphasize the origins of the ring's muse YSL. For the base, I used girly pink ladyfinger biscuits from "Massion Fossier" called "Biscuits Roses de Reims" which I ground up into a fine powder. I moulded the whole thing in an adorable bow-shaped PVC cake mould. For the decoration, I went with a simple rose petal and a sugar diamond to give it a bit of regal quality.
|Mini cheesecakes and mini "Biscuits Roses de Reims"|
I think this cake would be perfect served in a wedding banquet, especially if the bride herself was wearing the ring that the cake is based on. Don't you think it'd be a great idea for the guests to be able to experience the piece of jewelry that holds a special significance to the happy couple? I think I may be onto something here.
So here's the recipe. You can use any cake moulds for this cheesecake. This recipe will make 6 mini cakes or a 6 or 7 inch round cake.
Rosewater and Sour Cherry Cheesecakes
Sour cherry (griottines) compote
300 g fresh/frozen cherries
45 g sugar
a squeeze of lemon juice
1.5 sheets gelatin - soaked in cold water and drained
Cut the cherries into quarters
Place into a saucepan, add sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice
Bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes until cherries are soft and half of the liquid has evaporated
Take off heat, add soaked gelatin leaves and stir to combine
Pour into a clean bowl, cover with cling wrap in contact
Place in the fridge to cool completely
150 g regular cream cheese
90 g heavy cream
15 ml rosewater
25 g caster sugar
1.5 leaves gelatin - soaked in cold water and drained
20 ml boiling water
Place softened gelatin leaves in a bowl and pour in the boiling water, leave to cool slightly
In a food processor, mix cream cheese, sugar and rosewater well until the sugar is dissolved
Add in the gelatin mixture and whizz again until well combined
Whip up heavy cream with a whisk or a hand mixer until slightly thickened
Add in the cream cheese mixture and whisk until combined
100 g "Biscuits Roses de Reims" - (can also use lady finger biscuits)
50 g unsalted butter - melted
Process biscuits into fine crumbs
Add in melted butter and work into the crumbs evenly with a spatula
Melted white chocolate
Place rosewater filling into a piping bag, cut off the tip
Pipe mixture into moulds, tap moulds onto the counter to flatten out the mixture
Place in the fridge for an hour to set the gelatin
Spoon on a thin layer of sour cherry compote, place back in the fridge to set
Using a small offset spatula or a spoon, press on the biscuit crumbs to the top of the mould
Cover with a thin layer of white chocolate so keep the biscuit crumbs together
Place in the freezer to freeze completely before unmoulding
Decorate with rose petals and sugar diamonds
To be served cool, not frozen!
Well that's it!
Time to visit my lucky neighbour!