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Easter is here, are you ready? You feasting? If your Sunday includes remembering where you hid that last damned egg, or if it looks something like sleeping until 10:30, lazing in a comfy chair and sipping languidly on your coffee (damn you, I was you once), I really think you should make and then eat this cheesecake. After a catering gig that included a bunch of wee tiramisus, I had a bit of mascarpone cheese left over, and you just don’t let that stuff go to waste. Paired with cream cheese, Meyer lemons and rosemary, well. It is so good. Like “biblical proportions” good. I’ll stop there, before I start blaspheming. Where’s that coffee?

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Mascarpone Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with Vanilla Rosemary Crust*
yields one 6″ cheesecake

40 Nilla wafers
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Pinch kosher salt

10 oz cream cheese, room temp
4 oz mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Zest of one Meyer lemon
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c sugar
juice of 1 Meyer lemon
Pinch salt
1 c heavy whipping cream

For the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Place the cookies and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and process to fine crumbs. Pour in the butter and mix together by hand. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 6″ springform pan. Chill for 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly toasty. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Keep the oven on!

For the Filling

Using a hand mixer or on an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and mascarpone on medium speed until smooth and combined. Add the sugar, vanilla, zest, and juice and continue to beat. Add the egg, yolk, and salt and mix again until well incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another minute.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth out the top. Create a water bath by placing the cheesecake into a larger cake pan or roasting pan and filling the outer pan with enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the cheesecake. This will insure even baking and decrease the chance of the cheesecake cracking on top.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cheesecake jiggles in the center and is soft but set on the edge.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the water bath for 15 minutes before removing and chilling the rest of the way in the refrigerator. Allow to fully chill and set before removing from the pan and serving, at least 2 hours.

For the Topping

Combine the sour cream, sugar, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) and whip until the mixture thickens and the sugar is dissolved. Add the cream and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Spread onto the cheesecake.

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Eat with reckless abandon.

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Purim, the holiday that commemorates Esther’s Old Testament bad-assery was completely off my radar as a kid, as were unfortunately, the cookies below. I grew up in Catholic school, where Old Testament tribe-related stories like this one just didn’t come up a lot. But I’m making up for lost time. This is not a holiday that I grew up with, but it carries a story that I appreciate deeply, I think now even more than before. Also the cookies are brilliant with a capital “B”.
IMG_20160323_173814592_HDR (1)
Spring Hamantaschen
yields 15 big cookies

the dough:

1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temp
4 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of one orange
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well combined. Add the vanlla extract, orange zest, and sugar and continue to mix until well combined.
Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the egg and mix on medium, then scrape down the bowl again once incorporated.
Add the flour, baking powder, and salt all at once. Mix on low speed until just incorporated and a soft dough forms.
Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Rhubarb-Blood Orange Filling

1 1/2 c. rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces (about 2 medium stalks)
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. fresh blood orange juice (approx. 3 medium oranges)
1 strip of orange zest
Pinch salt
1 tsp. cornstarch

In a small pot over medium-low heat, combine the rhubarb, sugar, zest, salt and 1/2 cup of the juice. Stir occassionally to prevent sticking.
Combine the remaining juice and the cornstarch in a separate bowl and stir to break up any lumps. Set aside.
Allow the rhubarb to gently bubble until the pieces begin to soften, about 5 min.
Pour in the cornstarch mixture and bring back to a simmer. Allow to simmer an additional minute or so, until the juices thicken.
Remove from heat and cool completely.

Cream Cheese Filling

4 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 tbsp orange juice
1/4 c. sugar
Pinch salt
1 egg yolk

Paddle the cream cheese until smooth. Add the juice, sugar, and salt and mix to combine.Scrape down the bowl, add the egg yolk and paddle until just combined.

Assembly

Preheat the oven to 350F.

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On a floured surface, gently roll the dough out to approx. 1/4″ thick. Using a 4″ round cutter, cut out as many circles as you can.

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Dab or brush on a small amount of water around the edge of each circle (this allows the dough to stick to itself). Spoon a teaspoon of the cooled rhubarb filling into the center of each circle. Spoon a 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese filling on top of that.
Gently fold the edge of each circle, making three pressed corners on each.
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Chill the cookies on a paper-lined sheet pan for 10 minutes.

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the folded edges are light golden, about 15-17 minutes. The cookies should still be a bit pale and soft.

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Allow to cool completely before eating with reckless abandon.