I’ve been dreaming of cheesecake for sometime now. Imagining the creamy, slightly sweet, slightly sour flavor with the contrasting crumbly crust and just a whisper of fruit. I haven’t actually tasted it, experienced that favorable sensation, for a number of years. I’ve been dairy-free for some time. No, soy won’t work either. I had released the idea with full abandon, believing truly that there was no loss.
Recently, however, my interested was spiked once again and I began to court the idea of an alternative cheesecake suited for my sensitive GI system. I really didn’t toil over the options; the replacement presented itself to me quite readily as I was spreading it atop a fig: soft goat cheese (chevre). It is quite similar to cream cheese in both texture and flavor, not quite as creamy, a tad bit saltier. I thought if anything would succeed, it could. And so I set out to make a gluten-free dairy-free cheesecake, preparing it for our Beltane celebration, no less. Clearly, it had to be a success…failure was neither an option nor a consideration.
I decided I wanted this Beltane-themed dessert to be laced with flower essence. Goat cheese and lavender have such a succulent flavor in tandem, I thought it would be an amicable combination. I did a brief search and drew upon a few different recipes to guide me through the process. I do have to credit one I found in The Washington Post for the idea of incorporating the blueberries into the topping.
This is delicious.
Dairy-free Lavender-Honey (Goat) Cheesecake with Gluten-free Crust
2 c. gluten-free almond flour
¼ c. raw cane Turbinado sugar, organic and fair trade
4 T. organic coconut oil, melted + more for the pan
¼ t. sea salt
1 ½ # soft organic goat cheese (chevre)
4 large organic free-range eggs, room temperature
2/3 c. + 3 T. organic honey
½ c. organic goat yogurt, plain
1 T. gluten-free tapioca flour
1 t. gluten-free organic vanilla
1 c. fresh or frozen organic blueberries
¼ c. water
2 T. raw cane Turbinado sugar, organic and fair trade
2 T. dried organic lavender flowers, crushed
8 oz. soft organic goat cheese (chevre)
½ c. organic goat yogurt, plain
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with coconut oil. Wrap the bottom of the pan with foil as to create a seal and prevent water from seeping in as the cake bakes in the water bath (bain-marie).
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, sugar and salt; stir in the melted coconut oil and mix well. I find hands to be the best instrument in this case. Form the “dough” into a ball and transfer to the bottom of the springform pan, pressing it gently to spread and evenly cover the full area and at least 1” up the side of the pan. Bake the crust for 10-15 minutes (or until it is set). Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.
Put on a kettle of water and heat as if for tea.
In a large mixing bowl using a hand-held or stand-up mixer, cream 1 ½ pounds of goat cheese with 3 T. of honey until smooth. Add the remainder of the honey, then eggs, one at a time. Beat for a few minutes following each addition, ensuring to scrape down the sides frequently. Sprinkle in the tapioca flour. Once well incorporated, add ½ c. goat yogurt and the vanilla. The mixture should now be smooth and somewhat fluid. Pour it into the prepared springform, crust-lined pan. Create a bain-marie by placing the springform pan in the center of a larger roasting pan, and adding hot water from the kettle until it covers the bottom-half of the springform pan. Bake for about an hour and one half, or until the filling is well-set and the top becomes a nice golden color. The center will not be completely solid and will have a gelatinous response when aggitated. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool when cooking is complete.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping by placing the blueberries, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-high for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until the berries begin to collapse. Stir the lavender into the berry mixture and remove from it from the heat; allow it to sit and steep for at least 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until it is smooth. Now, using a fine strainer, strain the bits of lavender and berry residue, allowing the finer material to collect in a bowl beneath. Use a wooden spoon to mash the solids and extract the liquid as thoroughly as possible. You will have between 1/3 and ½ c. No need to retain the solid matter; you can compost it or make tea.
Place the last 8 oz. of chevre in a mixing bowl and, using a hand-held or standing mixer, beat on medium speed until it is smooth and creamy. Reduce the speed to low and add in the remaining ½ c. of goat yogurt, incorporating the lavender-blueberry sauce, then scrape down the sides to encourage an even distribution.
Once the cheesecake has been removed from the oven and the bain-marie and has had a few moments to cool, spread the lavender-blueberry topping evenly over the cheesecake. Place it in the refrigerator and allow it to cool completely, then cover it and keep refrigerated for at least one day prior to serving.
When you are ready to serve the cheesecake, remove it carefully from the springform pan and exhibit on a serving platter. Top each serving with fresh or crystallized flowers, lavender and/or mint sprigs or drizzle with honey or gluten-free chocolate sauce. Keep refrigerated as it will melt slightly if left out too long. I don’t know what the shelf life is on this; it disappeared too quickly!
©2010 Taylor Donovan