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.
Continuing my series of winter desserts in the Spring (whoops!), here is one that is no longer on the menu. We participated in Restaurant Week this January-February and I came up with a riff off of our current cheesecake (on the next post!). It features ricotta cheesecake, pistachio cremeux, Sicilian pistachios, blood orange segments, and blood orange sorbet. We were receiving the most heavenly blood oranges during this time, and something this simple was perfect to showcase the fruit. On a dreary and cold winter day, it's nice to have a bright, citrusy, and refreshing plate in front of you.
When winter hits, pastry chefs love to pair beets and dark chocolate together. I get it, earthy beets highlight the sweet, bitter, and complex chocolate and it's delicious when done right. Yet I wanted to do something different. Why not black sesame? It has such a distinct and nutty flavor that will highlight beets. This black sesame cake is made with a mixture of flour, almond flour, and ground black sesame. Using the black sesame as part of the flour gives it a strong black sesame flavor, not to mention a cool color. The ganache is made with pureed red beets and white chocolate. White chocolate tends to be very sweet, so I like to err with caution and add the white chocolate to taste. Produce tastes differently from week to week, and some beets might be sweeter, or earthier depending on the time of the year. Use your palate to gauge the right amount of sweetness. The beet chips are made with simple syrup and cooked in either a dehydrator or low oven. They add a nice texture to the smooth ganache and soft cake. For a bit of spice, this is dessert is paired with a lemongrass & ginger ice cream.