This is an interesting and delicious variation on cheesecake, a recipe by pastry wiz Pierre Hermé in his latest book “Pastries”. The base is made with a sweet pastry dough turned into a powder and used like the Graham crackers crumbs of New York cheesecake, it’s topped with a pistachio cheesecake layer which is baked at low temperature until set. Sour cherries that have been poached in a vanilla syrup are arranged on top of the pistacho cheesecake layer and the whole thing is covered with a pistachio-cream cheese mousse. When the cheesecake is set it’s finished with shards of salted white chocolate around the edge and a dusting of pistachio powder. I’m a big fan of pistachio-anything so I just had to try it but what’s fun it’s the clever contrast between layers that opens the door to many interpretations. Check out what Tina of Wandering Eater did following the same concept.
I didn’t take a photo of the inside of the cake BUT there’s one in the book “Pastries”. You can see those delicious layers if you click here. It may look as a fancy and complicated cake but when you break down the work it’s really not that bad, and this one is actually fun to make. Just take it one step at the time. Enjoy!
- Serves 8
- Recipe by Pierre Herme in “Pastries”
Sweet Tart Dough (for the base):
- 1 stick + 2 tbs (150g) butter at room temp’
- 3/4 cup (95g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup (30g) ground almonds
- 2 dashes fleur de sel
- 1/4 vanilla bean
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 7 tablespoons butter
Poached Sour Cherries:
- 1/3 cup still mineral water
- 7 tablespoons (100g) superfine sugar
- 1 cup (250g) frozen sour cherries
White Chocolate Squares:
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or fine sea salt
- 9 1/4 ounce (260g) white chocolate (Vahlrona)
Cream Cheese Filling:
- 3/4 cup (75g) shelled pistachios
- 1 3/4 cups (450g) Philadelphia cream cheese
- 1/2 cup (125g) superfine sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons (20g) all-purpose flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 1/4 tablespoons pistachio paste
Cream Cheese & Pistachio Mousse:
- 5 gelatin sheets
- 1 tablespoon (15g) still mineral water
- 1/4 cup (50g) superfine sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 teaspoons (20g) pistachio paste
- 3/4 cup (160g) Philadelphia cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups (150g) shelled pistachios
- white chocolate squares (see recipe above)
- fresh cherries
For the sweet tart dough:
- In the bowl of a food processor beat the butter until smooth. Add, in the following order, the sifted confectioners’ sugar, ground almonds, and sea salt. Split the quarter vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the egg, then sift the flour and add it. Process until the dough forms a ball.
- Divide the dough into three pieces, each weighing about 7 ounces (200g). Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours. Keep one portion out ready to work with and place the other two in the freezer to be used another time.
- Preheat the oven to 350’F. Butter a baking sheet. Roll out the dough into a round until it is 1/16 inch (2mm) thick. Transfer it to the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow the dough to cool, then break it into pieces and place in a food processor. Grind it to a powder. Incorporate the soften butter and blend until the butter is fully incorporated into the crumbs.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. On the paper place a 9 1/2 inch diameter pastry ring 1 1/2 inches high. Spread the dough mixture inside the ring, patting it down with your hands. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 325’F.
- Place the baking sheet with the pastry ring in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
For the poached sour cherries:
- The night before boil the mineral water with the superfine sugar. Place the sour cherries in a bowl and pour the boiling syrup over them. Set aside to macerate until the following day.
For the white chocolate squares & pistachios:
- Sift the fleur de sel and use only the smaller crystals, or use fine sea salt. Chop the white chocolate and place in a bowl to melt over simmering water. Let the chocolate cool to 55’F. Return the bowl to the bain-marie, when it reaches a temperature of 86’F to 91’F pour the chocolate onto an acetate sheet or parchment paper and spread to form an 8-inch square or larger. Place another strip of acetate paper or parchment over the top, then the flat side of a baking tray to prevent the shape of the chocolate from warping. Refrigerate until use.
- Toast the pistachio for the filling on one baking sheet, and those for decoration on the other in a 200’F oven for 20 minutes. Crush the pistachio for the filling with a rolling pin and grind those for decoration into a powder. Sift the powdered pistachios and set aside.
For the cream cheese filling:
- In the bowl of a food processor, process the cream cheese and superfine sugar for 2 minutes. Add the flour, egg yolk, eggs, cream, pistachio paste, and crushed pistachios. Process until the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the cream cheese filling onto the cooled pastry base in the ring on the baking sheet. Place it in the oven at 300’F and bake for 1 1/4 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
For the cream cheese & pistachio mousse:
- Soak the gelatin in cold water for 20 minutes. In a saucepan, boil the still mineral water with the superfine sugar to a temperature of 250’F. Put the egg yolks in the bowl of a blender. Pour the boiling syrup over the egg yolks, beating at high speed. Beat until the mixture cools.
- Melt the pistachio paste with the cream cheese in a large bowl over simmering water. Add the confectioners’ sugar, the drained and squeezed gelatin, the beaten egg yolk mixture, and combine. Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks and fold it in.
To assemble and finish the cake:
- Drain the sour cherries and pat them dry with paper towels. Arrange them over the layer of filling in the pastry ring. Cover with the cream cheese & pistachio mousse and smooth the top with a cake spatula. Freeze for 3 hours.
- Before serving, unmold the cheesecake by heating the pastry ring with a hair-dryer or kitchen torch. Arrange the cheesecake on a serving platter. Sprinkle the top with the powdered pistachios. Cut the white chocolate into regular or irregular pieces and arrange around the edge of the cheesecake. Top with fresh cherries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.