My Fall cheesecake (concord grape, graham cracker, and a classic Philadelphia cream cheese cheesecake) was a big hit, so changing it up for Winter made me a little nervous. You never want to disappoint with cheesecake and you definitely do not want to change it to something worse. This is a ricotta cheesecake (light and creamy, thought not as heavy as a cream cheese based batter), paired with saffron poached seckel pears, hazelnut crumble, cinnamon ice cream and vanilla caramel. The pears are lightly poached in white wine, saffron, vanilla, orange & lemon zest, cinnamon, and star anise. The hazelnut crumble has almond flour for extra nuttyness and hazelnuts that have been toasted and caramelized. I have been told the cinnamon ice cream is reminiscent of cinnamon toast crunch (goal!). The warm caramel sauce drizzled over ice cream and the cheesecake makes this cheesecake comforting delicious and irresistible.
Sometimes I can't decide on having cheese or dessert after a meal. I just want both. This dessert/cheese hybrid satisfies both cravings. The pears are poached in lemon rose geranium (a highly floral and beautiful herb), sugar, vanilla, and water. After they are poached, crumbled spanish blue is placed on top. It's drier, more crumbly, and stronger than other varieties I am used to eating, and I love how it stands up to the natural sweetness of fruit. 100% maple syrup is drizzled on top, nasturtium added because of their peppery and fresh note, and fresh pomegranate seeds added.
This is not your typical cheese course. First of all, there is no cheese. Second, there's just no cheese. What is on the plate is a play on cheese. Plated is a poached seckel pear, milk skin, olive oil, maldon salt, cracked black pepper, and pea shoots. The seckel pears are poached in honey and cardamom. I love poaching pears in honey because it gives it a rich and buttery taste without compromising the actual fruit. Cardamom is a deliciously fragrant and warm spice that I love to infuse to cooked fruit. It gives a a sense of familiarity without overwhelming the senses. The milk skin is just that, milk skin. It's the skin that develops in heated milk. I love that it has a delicate mouthfeel and is reminiscent of mozzarella, especially when topped with good olive oil, salt, and pepper. The pea shoots add a vegetal freshness. When I first tasted all the components together, I was so excited. It tasted better than what I had envisioned. In the kitchen, trial and error is part of developing any dish, but when something comes out delicious on the first try, it's just icing on the cake.