Ube Cheesecake with Toasted Coconut Crust and Blackberries
Makes a moderately tall, 9-inch cake – serves 12
Toasted Coconut Crust:
1 c unsweetened dessicated coconut
1 sleeve Maria biscuits, roughly broken up
1/3 c coconut oil, melted
In a skillet, stir the coconut over medium heat until golden, crisp, and aromatic. Transfer to a plate, spreading it out evenly, and let cool completely.
Add the toasted coconut and Maria biscuits to a blender or food processor and blend do a sand consistency.
Transfer the crumb mixture to a bowl and stir in the coconut oil until the mixture resembles damp sand.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and press the crumb mixture firmly into the pan to form the crust.
Chill the crust thoroughly in the fridge, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until golden and lightly browned along the edge.
Cool completely while you make the cheesecake batter.
Ube Cheesecake Filling
2 small ube or purple sweet potato – scrubbed clean and steamed until tender
750 g 2% cottage cheese
500 g full fat cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, with a rack set at the lowest part of the oven and a rack at the center. Place a sheet pan on the lower rack.
Break the steamed ube into pieces and blend on LOW SPEED until smooth and thick with the cottage cheese. (Vigorous blending may destroy the protein structure of the curds and prevent your cheesecake from setting properly. You’ll know you’ve taken it too far when you’ve essentially liquefied the mixture.)
Beat the cream cheese, sugar, coconut extract, and vanilla extract in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.
Pour the ube mixture into the cream cheese mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
Once your oven is preheated, pour water into the preheated sheet pan (step 1) to quickly create steam.
Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust, place on another sheet pan, and bake on the top rack for 50-60 minutes, or until the edge is slightly puffed and only the center has a slight jiggle.
Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake to cool until warm enough to touch with the oven door slightly ajar.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before covering with foil and chilling completely in the fridge (preferably overnight).
Run a thin blade between the cheesecake edge and sides of the pan before unmolding.
Top with blackberries, whipped coconut cream, diced mango, or any other topping that you feel like.
Slice with a sharp chef’s knife dipped in hot water, cleaning and reheating the blade between each slice.
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until finely textured.
Spoon into a small mason jar and pour in more olive oil to fully cover the top. Seal with the lid and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
Pancetta, Pesto, and Pomodoro Pizza – makes 1 pizza
1/2 recipe No-Knead Dough (above)
2 San Marzano tomatoes, fished out from the can
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
5 bocconcini, halved
5 slices pancetta
1 tbsp Basil Pesto (above)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
finely shredded basil, to finish
Preheat the oven to its highest setting or 525 degrees F. Place one rack as close as low as possible and the other as high up as possible. This will help you control the doneness of your crust and toppings later.
Sprinkle a generous layer of flour all over a baking sheet and fold the dough gently (using more flour as necessary) to form a smooth ball.
Stretch the dough out with your knuckles until it reaches the size of the pan. Fit it onto the floured pan. (This beautiful video will show you exactly what I mean.)
Crush the San Marzano tomatoes between your hands and let the juices drip onto the pizza dough. Break the tomato into small pieces and dot them all over the stretched dough.
Top with the bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, and pancetta slices in the order listed. Dot with pesto. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Bake on the bottom rack for 5-6 minutes, then transfer to the top rack to bake for another 6-7 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly, pancetta is crisp, and crust is lightly blistered and deep golden.
Top with shredded basil, slice, and serve immediately (with chili flakes if I may add).
Goes well with a massaged kale salad…in the next post!
In the comments below tell me: What are your favourite pizza topping combinations?
After snoozing my trusty bedside clock for three consecutive times this morning, I said thank you to Jesus for a perfect Sunday past and a revitalizing stretch of sleep. It was a quiet Monday morning where the gentle purr of the furnace was as clear to my ears as the heaving exhales of some slumbering giant, and I might have believed, for the briefest moment, that I had the house to myself.
As I sucked on the cold orange slice between my teeth, I gave myself the luxury of imagining the chill of its juice soothing the shriveled tissues in my throat. It was well past magic hour, and the sunlight was crawling up my left arm and slowly up my profile.
These fleeting moments are usually the most dangerous. And today was no exception. A newly instated holiday borne out of the most innocent of intentions, the words “family day” sank heavier than iridium into what is now a crater in my thought. Immediately fragments of the most plain and puerile experiences flooded my mind, and as they darted into the away, I felt as if I had plummeted a thousand feet back into the seat of my chair.
I wanted an old stale book with yellowing pages to curl up in, for the notes of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier to be hammered into my brain, for the sun to burn away the nerves in the surface of my skin.
Then my throat tightened, so I sucked on another slice of orange.
O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.
So apparently when I get emotional I don’t consume food…I produce it, and often that’s when I come up with the better half of my kitchen endeavours. And this dish is full of psychotic pinks that will stain not just your fingers should you touch it, but also your precious white Club Monaco shirt should you dare to wear it to dinner. Beets, that’s right, in my three favourite variations of it: butter-basted with fried thyme for meatiness, candied and pureed with yuzu and EVOO for richness, and pickled with anise and coriander for crunch and tartness. If you remember Heart Beets from way back, this one would definitely be an upgrade as it pays more respect to the natural beauty of this revered root. And of course, you’ll see chevre at the party too.
I used fingerling or cylindra beets because I saw them at the farmer’s market and love at first sight sort of got the best of me, (and their slender shape makes the cross-section particularly stunning), but by all means, use smaller round beets if they’re what you’ve got. The best way to tackle this dish is to start three days ahead. Yeah, bugger, I know, but surely you don’t want to make the mistake of buying pickled beets from the store again wouldn’t you agree? So I say, boohooh to you, now roll up your sleeves and learn how to make the most out of being stuck in a pickle. After you’re through with the pickling, steam both the beets for the candied puree and the butter-basted variation together. That’s all I’ll say for now; for further information, please see the recipe below. (Excuse my formality, I just really wanted to see what it would feel like putting those words down.)
Ingredients for the short-pickled beetroot:
2/3 cup raw sugar
2/3 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
4 star anise, toasted
3 fingerling/cylindra beets (use whatever color you’d like, just have all 3 of the same kind), thinly sliced with a mandolin crosswise into small rounds; you don’t need to peel them, just scrub them under running water
To make the pickled beetroot, place the sugar and vinegar in a small pot and bring to the boil. Pour the mixture into a clean glass jar and add the coriander and anise. Bring it down to room temperature, cover, and chill overnight in the fridge.
On the next day, add the sliced beets and refrigerate (covered), for at least 3 days or up to a week.
Ingredients for the beetroot puree:
3 fingerling/cylindra beets, cut into one inch chunks, steamed until tender
1 tbsp Korean yuzu tea preserves
2 splashes balsamic vinegar (about 2 1/2 tbsp)
1 splash extra virgin olive oil (about 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (with more emphasis on pepper)
To make the candied beetroot puree, place all the ingredients in a high speed blender and puree until completely smooth. Add a splash of water to help out the blades if need be.
Push the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve and chill, covered, until ready to use.
Ingredients for the butter-basted beetroot:
3 fingerling/cylindra beets, scrubbed, halved lengthwise, steamed until tender
3 tbsp butter, or avocado oil
9 sprigs thyme
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
To make the butter-basted beetroot, melt the butter over moderately high heat in a cast iron pan. Add the thyme sprigs and stir until fragrant and push to the side. Place the beets, cut side down, firmly in the pan and sear until crisp and caramelized while you baste the top side with butter.
Flip and let the other side take some color as well. baste and season generously with the thyme-infused butter.
Ingredients for the assembly:
120g unripened goat cheese, plain or with herbs, broken into chunks
Paint a near-circle of beetroot puree with the back of a spoon on 3 or 6 plates. Place a few chunks of broken cheese on the puree and position the butter-basted beet as pleases your eye. Add a few pickled beetroot slices here and there to fill the desolate spaces and garnish with the fried thyme. Finish with more salt and pepper and a drizzle of walnut or hazelnut oil if you’re really feelin’ it and into shiny food. No, really, go for it.
On those Saturday mornings when I lay, semi-tucked in between my duvet and bed sheets, and realize once more that aside from the whirring of the heater there is no other breathing thing in the apartment but me, I ponder:
what do I live for today?
Should I get up, plant my feet in my slippers, then shuffle them over to the bathroom? Or maybe I should turn my back to the tangerine hue that seeps past the canvas blinds and forget again.
Then I remember,
The Lord says,
“I will guide you along
the best pathway for life.
I will advise and watch over
-Psalms 32: 8
Simple, I like. No complicated choices, just one: do I get in that Audi R8 V8 Coupé with the one who’s got it all, and all under control?
Yes, I’d like that! Seriously, I know it’s hard to get up in the morning sometimes when there seems to be a lack of reason. But I choose to see any new day itself as the reason to get up. Why stifle a budding new day with 30, 000 presumptions before it’s even had a chance to unfurl its tender leaves? No reason, for real this time.
So no, I will not shuffle to the bathroom and convince myself that I have a migraine. And no I will not shun the smile of the sun.
I will make myself breakfast. And I will eat it like a boss.
Ingredients for the Pumpkin Spice Latte Loaf:
2 1/2 c oats
1/2 c shredded coconut
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 c dark brown sugar
1/3 c medium maple syrup
1 c pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp each instant coffee granules, cinnamon, ginger
1/2 tsp each nutmeg, cloves
1/2 c full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate, optional
To make the pumpkin loaf, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the rack placed in the middle of the oven. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Put the oats and dried coconut in a blender or food processor and grind to as fine as possible, about 2~3 minutes depending on the efficiency of your device. Dump the oat flour mixture into a large bowl and whisk in the baking soda and baking powder.
Put all the remaining ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour the wet mixture into the oat flour mixture and stir until almost combined, add the white chocolate, and stir until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40~45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.
Serve it in thick slices the next morning with some homemade (yes you can!) coconut butter if you didn’t add the white chocolate, or slightly toasted, warmed in the microwave, or simply as it is! Trust me, be in quite some love!