I apologize in advance for my poor timing on this post.
I‘m sorry it’s the first official weekend of bathing suit season and I’m doing this to you. There probably should be some sort of law against writing, talking, or even thinking about cheesecake while wearing a bathing suit, but I had to. You see, I received my first reader request. A strawberry rhubarb pie with some sort of twist. And I kindly wrote back “I’m heading to the beach on vacation. Maybe when I return.”
But then I remembered a recipe from the March issue of Bon Appetit Magazine and I couldn’t wait. It’s been on the top of my “make soon” list for over two months. Don’t you get it now? I had to. I’m sorry.
Maybe I took “twist” a little too liberally and twisted a pie right into a cheesecake. But for that, I’m not sorry. Not at all.
This recipe caught my eye because it used goat cheese instead of cream cheese for the filling. What’s a better base for strawberries and rhubarb than lightly sweetened, creamy, soft, goat cheese? I don’t think there is one. I used almond meal for the crust. It’s light and crisp. The strawberries and rhubarb are roasted with a bit of orange juice and zest. It’s a wonderful, basic, roasted fruit topping that I envision on yogurt, ice cream or oatmeal. But here, it’s the perfect topping to this sweet, cool, vanilla-infused cheesecake. Get to it. You won’t be sorry.
Vanilla Cheesecake with Roasted Rhubarb and Strawberries (adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine)
For the crust
1½ cups almond meal (or almond flour or equivalent amount of ground/crushed cookie – i.e. graham crackers or vanilla wafers)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon orange rind
Pinch of salt
For the filling
8 ounces soft, fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chilled sour cream
For the roasted rhubarb and strawberries
2 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups strawberries, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice (the juice of one large orange)
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
1½ tablespoons butter, cut into smaller pieces
For the crust
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- If using cookies, process in a food processor until fine. Combine all crust ingredients in a medium bowl. The mixture should be mealy and damp.
- Press firmly onto bottom of a greased 8-inch springform pan (or cake pan). Bake until crust is golden, about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
For the filling
- Combine goat cheese and sugar in bowl of electric mixer. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean (or add vanilla). Beat mixture until well blended.
- In a separate bowl, beat whipping cream and sour cream until firm peaks form (I find this easiest using a hand mixer).
- Fold the cream mixture into the goat cheese mixture until smooth.
- Spread filling over cooled crust. Chill until filling firms slightly. At least 7 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.)
For the roasted rhubarb and strawberries.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Combine chopped strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, orange juice, and orange zest in baking dish.
- Stir to coat the fruit with the juices and sugar. Dot with the butter.
- Roast about 30-35 minutes. Cool slightly. This can be made ahead and left at room temperature for a few hours. I also think it would be ok to make a day ahead, store in refrigerator and rewarm on the stovetop in a sauce pan.
- Top cheesecake slices with fruit topping as served.
- The actual cheesecake filling is never baked. There are no eggs. It’s whipped and should set for quite a few hours. I let mine set for 7. The original recipe called for 6 hours, but the original recipe was also for smaller tartlets, not a cake. It could have probably stood to chill a little longer, so if you have the time, just let it be.
- You don’t have to use goat cheese, the usual cream cheese would be fine, but the goat cheese is fantastic with the roasted strawberries and rhubarb. I highly recommend it.
- The recipe also calls for one vanilla bean, which I wish I had. I only had half of one so I used that with an additional 1 teaspoon vanilla. If you don’t have a bean you can use the two teaspoons of vanilla extract, but nothing can replace the actual bean flavor. Next time I make this I’ll be sure to have a whole bean.
- This is IMPORTANT. I topped the entire cake with the fruit mixture once it was completely chilled and set. I would suggest keeping the fruit separate and topping each piece as it’s served. Because this is a no-bake cake it’s softer than a typical cheesecake. After a few hours in the refrigerator the topping started to weigh down the cake making it a droopy mess. I saved it by putting it in the freezer, but this can be avoided by keeping the topping separate…unless of course, you’re sure the cake will be gone in one sitting. Totally possible.