|Solomon and The Queen of Sheba
as painted by Piero della Francesca
Nobody seems to know why, but February 26th is World Pistachio Day. The day even has its own website: www.worldpistachioday.com
|Matt (L) and Renato (R)|
We’ve featured many recipes from Baked, the bakery that got its start in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Recently Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, the brains and bakers behind Baked opened a commodious new shop in Tribeca (279 Church St. NY NY 10013 (212) 775-0345. There, in addition to a menu of soups and savories, you can order spectacular cakes right out of their latest book “Baked Occasions” (Stewart Tabori Chang 2014). Or you can, as Andrew did, make one of these glorious confections from the duo’s excellent recipes. That’s where this recipe for Pistachio White Chocolate Cheesecake came from. It seems that Matt’s grandmother Boreali was the Queen of all Cheesecakes and much of what goes into this particular cake were her cardinal rules for baking cheesecakes. According to Matt in “Baked Occasions” ‘she always added a thin layer of sour cream to the top of her cheesecakes for two reasons. First, she liked the slight sour note. Second, she told me it was a great way to cover up any cracks (though Grandma’s cheesecake never cracked.)’ Interestingly she never used a ‘water bath’ in her life. However, Matt invites his bakers to ‘feel free to place a 9 x 13 inch pan filled with water in the oven directly below the cheesecake to help prevent cracking’. Note: this is not a bain marie in which the cake would sit in a water bath.
|Andrew’s version of the cake
used ground pistachios to
decorate the sour cream topping
This is not a thirty minute recipe by a long shot. For one thing, you need to refrigerate the cake after you’ve baked it for a full 8 hours. But the wait only increases the anticipation of this seriously delicious, creamy-rich pistachio-filled cake sitting atop a Chocolate and Pistachio cookie crust. There’s one other secret ingredient in this cake: To make the filling look like real pistachio ice cream, Matt recommends a little food coloring to ‘green’ up the cake. But if you object to food color, by all means leave it out. Your cake will still achieve the pale green color of pistachios. Here is the recipe:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Using nonstick cooking spray, lighly coat both the bottom and sides of a high-sided (2 ½ to 3 inch)
2. Wrap the outside of the pan in foil on the off chance that it leaks during baking.
3. In a food processor, pulse the pistachios until finely ground, about five 5 second pulses.
4. Add the cookies, sugar and salt and process until the ingredients are coarsely ground, 30 to 40 seconds.
5. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand.
6. Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared pan and press it into the bottom and up the sides. Use the bottom of a flat measuring cup to create a firm, even crust.
Now make the Pistachio White Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling:
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sugar and flour. Beat on medium speed until just combined, being careful not to overbeat. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the ground pistachios and cream and mix until incorporated.
4. Pour half the batter into a bowl. Fold the white chocolate into the batter in the bowl until combined. Pour this batter over the top of the chocolate cookie crust, smooth it out and place the pan in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. If using, add the green food coloring, a few drops at a time, to the remaining batter and stir to incorporate until the desired color is achieved.
5. Pour this batter over the refrigerated white chocolate batter. Smooth the top.
6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. Open the oven door for a few seconds to let out some heat lowering the oven temperature to 350 degrees F as you do. Close the oven door. Bake until the cheesecake is set around the outside but still slightly wobbly in the center, 45 minutes to 1 hour, rotating the pan every 15 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and spread the sour cream over the top of the cheesecake in a swirly, decorative pattern. Return to the oven until the sour cream browns slightly, about 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat, crack the oven door and let the cheesecake cool completely in the oven (about 1 hour).
8. Chill the cheesecake, lightly covered, in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. Loosen the sides of the crust from the pan with an offset spatula, then remove the spring form sides and serve.
The cheesecake will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 days.