There are so many things I love about this cheesecake. No spring form pan. No water bath. No leaving it in the cooling oven waiting for the top to “crack.” And it is so light and citrusy it is a complete shock that there is no lemon in the ingredient list. Also, it isn’t REALLY a cheesecake, per se.
There is also a long acknowledgement list for this recipe. A couple years ago I was having lunch with Michael Alberty at Cyril’s in Portland. Michael owns a wine shop called Storyteller and has just taken a job with Jancis Robinson to write about Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia wines. Congrats Michael. Cyril’s is the restaurant side of the winery Clay Pigeon run respectively by husband and wife team Michael Claypool and Sasha Davies. You can see my story involving their wine and a pig’s head here. Okay back on topic. Sasha is one of the top cheese gurus in the US with a couple of books under her belt and a drool worthy cheese case. Michael and I had just finished the grilled cheese of the day containing roasted leeks and three cheeses I had never before tasted. Just when we thought our pants’ buttons would pop, a complimentary slice of this cheesecake arrives. Michael is a bit of a celebrity and I was lucky to be at his table holding a second fork.
Within 5 minutes I had requested the recipe and within 5 days I had made one at home, taunting Michael with a texted picture. Sorry, Michael. Turns out the recipe seems to have originated with Alice Medrich and can be found in her book “Pure Dessert.” I learned this from fellow bloggers Food 52 and Lottie and Doof. Okay have I credited everyone?
The hardest part about this recipe was finding Labneh cheese. First I didn’t know what it was. Second it is spelled different ways like Labni, Lebni, etc. Autocorrect doesn’t even want to let me type it. I found mine at a local organic, natural grocers called Lifesource and it was labelled Labne Kefir Cheese. You could check New Seasons, Whole Foods, etc or I bet you could make it like homemade yogurt. Here is what the labne label says… “A Lebanese treat enjoyed in the Middle East. Originally made by draining whey from slightly salted yogurt.” It recommends all kinds of savory options – a dip for pita, to tenderize meat in stews, to add creaminess to soups, or spread on a tomato sandwich. I may experiment with the leftovers.
Also I didn’t really know what kefir was. Luckily there is a kefir.net with a tab called “what is kefir?” “Kefir is a cultured creamy product with amazing health attributes. Kefir’s tart and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt.”
Hold up, this is healthy cheesecake? Well kind of. I will be adding sugar.
Here is the recipe getting passed around. Ms. Medrich I could not find where you posted it online. I plan to buy your book and I hope others will too.
I have topped this with rhubarb compote. The plan was to top with strawberries but a heatwave burned up the plants. So a mix of blueberries, raspberries, and my last few strawberries did the trick.
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ cup sugar + 2 Tbs. sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups (12 ounces) labneh (aka: lebni, labni, kefir cheese)
- In a bowl, combine the butter with the sugar, vanilla, and salt.
- Add the flour and mix just until well blended.
- Press the dough evenly over the bottom and sides of the tart pan; there will be just enough for a thin layer. Place the pan on a cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 until the crust is a deep, golden brown, 20-25 minutes. If the dough begins to inflate after about 15 minutes, press it down with the back of a fork and prick it. When the crust is finished, remove it from the oven and lower the heat to 300.
- While the crust is in the oven, make the filling, whisking together in this order: the eggs with the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Then whisk in the labneh.
- Moisture proof the crust by brushing with beaten egg yolk and a pinch of salt. Return to the oven for about a minute to set the yolk before pouring in the filling.
- Pour the filling into the hot crust, spreading it evenly. Bake until the filling is set around the edges but quivers in the middle, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Check it several times in the last few minutes; be careful not to overbake. Cool on a rack; Serve or refrigerate
- Serve topped with your choice of seasonal fruit - strawberry slices, blueberries, or rhubarb compote.
Now like every other wine writer you know I have been writing a lot about rose this season. When our #winepw host Nancy Brazil of Pull That Cork suggested rose pairings I had to think hard about what I haven’t already done this year. A sweet rose. Serious wine drinkers want to avoid them and novice wine drinkers don’t want to pay for a good one. When we did our big rose round up tasting everyone was relieved to hear they would all be dry. I get it. Many of us started with sweet, tarted up fruit juice in a wine glass. I spoke to the need for rose between promiscuous and prudish. But let’s not go too far in one direction that we forget that pink and slightly sweet can be fun.
Enter Del Rio Vineyards Rose Jolee. The first time I tasted this I didn’t like it. I was a snob. Then someone brought a bottle to a class I teach and all of the students happily swirled and swallowed. So I decided to put aside my memories of White Zinfandel and give this wine another try with the perfect pairing – this not too sweet cheesecake topped with fresh berries. And it was a match made in heaven.
Jolee is made by co-fermenting 70% Muscat, 10% Riesling and 20% Cabernet Franc. It is balanced, fruity, floral, and a little bit spritzy. Not super sweet, but sweet enough for lighter desserts and slightly spicy foods. Stop depriving yourself. You know you secretly want a little more sugar in your summer.
Winery price $15. For local folks, I got mine at Roth’s for around that price.
Del Rio Vineyards is located in Oregon’s beautiful Rogue Valley.
Now see the links below to see what other rose pairings and recipes our #winepw weekend friends are offering.
Cindy from Grape Experiences will share Wine and Dine: Galil Mountain Rose and Mixed Olive Tapenade
Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog pairs Chicken and Sausage Paella Paired with a Unicorn Rosé
Nancy from Pull That Cork will pair A Corsican Rosé and Summer Veggie Pizza for #winePW