But, it’s The Holidays. And holiday calories don’t count, especially if you don’t cut the dessert into slices but just take little bites off the entire thing. I read it on the Internet. Also, if I put a clothespin on my nose so I can’t smell the cheesecake while I eat it, then it will help me lose weight. I’m pretty sure I read that on the Internet too.
I realize that you are currently reading this post on the Internet, but I want you to believe me when I tell you that this cheesecake is delicious. Truly. It also happens to be gluten free, if that is a concern for you. In my mind, I pictured a very Christmasy dessert with a green crust, white filling and brilliant red topping. In practice, the entire thing is a bit more subdued, but only in appearance. The crust is buttery and nutty, which is unsurprising since I made it with ground pistachios and butter. The filling is smooth, rich and creamy and subtly flavored with orange. I used three cheeses in the filling: cream cheese, ricotta and mascarpone. Honestly, I had some ricotta leftover that needed a home, so I thought, “Why not let all the creamy cheeses join in?” And so I did. You could certainly flavor the cake more assertively with orange, or flavor it however you like. I went with a light flavor since the cranberry topping is really intense. I just took the leftover orange-ginger cranberry sauce I made for Thanksgiving, heated it up and thinned it out with some cranberry juice and then pureed and strained it. Feel free to use your favorite recipe to top your cheesecake.
For the Crust
- 2 cups (10 oz) shelled pistachios
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2-3 Tablespoons butter
For the Filling
- 2 blocks, (16 oz) cream cheese, softened
- 8 oz (about 1 cup) mascarpone cheese, softened
- 8 oz whole milk ricotta, , drained well in a fine mesh strainer for at least 2 hours
- 7 oz (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- zest of half an orange
- 4 large eggs
For the Topping
- 1 1/2 cups of your favorite cranberry sauce, , pureed and strained. It should be thick like pudding.
For the Whipped Mascarpone Cream
- 4 oz (1/2 cup) heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons cold mascarpone cheese
For the Crust
- Grind the pistachios, sugar and salt together in your food processor. Use the pulse function so you don't accidentally end up with pistachio butter. Once the nuts are finely ground, drop in 2 tablespoons of butter and pulse until the nuts are starting to clump together a bit. Press some into a measuring spoon to see if it will hold together. If so, you're good to go. If not, add the additional Tablespoon of butter and pulse again.
- Press the nut mixture evenly into the bottom and about 1" up the sides of a 9" or 10" spring form pan.
- Bake at 350F for ten minutes and remove from oven. If the crust has puffed up at all (mine did), just use the bottom of a glass or a measuring cup to smoosh it back down again. Let cool on a rack, and set the oven down to 300F.
- For the Filling
- Cream the three cheeses together on low speed until smooth, creamy and lumpless. Scrape the mixing bowl as needed.
- Still on low speed, mix in the sugar, vanilla, salt and orange zest and mix until completely smooth.
- Mix in the eggs, one at a time--yes, still on low speed--making sure one is completely incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the bowl as needed.
- Scrape the batter evenly into the spring form pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake in the center of the oven until set-but-jiggly, about 1 1/2 hours. The internal temperature should be about 165-170F. Start checking early, because you don't want to over-bake, and my oven might bake differently than yours.
- Turn the oven off, crack the door open, and let the cake cool down slowly for about an hour. Run a thin knife or metal spatula around the inside of the spring form to make sure the cheesecake doesn't stick to the sides.
- Remove to a cooling rack and let come to room temperature, then cover and chill overnight.
For the Topping
- When the cheesecake has chilled, remove the sides of the spring form pan, and evenly spread on the topping. Since we didn't bake with a bain marie, the edges will be slightly higher than the rest of the cake, making a perfect place to spread the topping. Tada! Put the sides of the pan back on to make the next part easier. Cover the pan and refrigerate until the topping is well chilled.
For the Whipped Mascarpone Cheese
- Put the whipping cream, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk until the whisk starts to leave tracks in the cream, about 2 minutes.
- Add the mascarpone and whisk well to incorporate. Once the mascarpone is introduced, the cream will thicken up quickly. Be careful not to over-whisk or the mixture will become grainy. Take it to barely stiff peaks.
- Take the sides off the spring form yet again, and spread over the cranberry or pipe in a Festive Holiday Manner.
Since nuts are oily, and you're also adding some butter to the mix, some of the oils may leak out the bottom of the spring form during baking. Make sure to bake on a cookie sheet to prevent it from burning on the floor of your oven.
The filling bakes up smooth, creamy and delicious. Even if you don't make this entire cheesecake, consider making the filling for whatever is your favorite crust and topping combination. Flavor it however you like. I think you'll be really pleased with the texture of the finished cake.
And there you have it, friends. Today’s post was short on words but long on flavor. If you love creamy cheesecakes with fruity topping, this guy is right up your alley. It is familiar enough to find many fans with just enough of a twist to be a bit different. And whether you’re gluten-free or you just don’t like graham cracker crust, give this pistachio number a try. It’s pretty fantastic!
Thanks so much for reading today friends. Have a lovely day.