Friday, September 9, 2011

Fresh Blackberry Cheesecake with Zesty Lemon Curd

So, the inspirations for this dessert came from the luscious blackberries dripping off the vine in my backyard and from some lemons I needed to use up! I also came across a dessert photography contest that I have entered this dessert in – I hope I am chosen as a finalist!
To make two of the elements in this dessert, I needed some seedless blackberry puree. To do this, I used my sauce maker! Sauce makers are so versatile, and much easier than forcing berries through a strainer. (If you are interested in what a one looks like, or if you would like to purchase one, check out the widget to the right. I also use this for making applesauce and tomato sauce.) The blackberry puree was used in both the cheesecake and the blackberry sauce used to garnish the plate.
For the lemon elements, I used zest in shortbread crust. I made a lemon curd to go on the plate as well, as an acidic element to cut through some of the richness as well as add a brighter color. Here is how I made the Zesty Lemon Curd:

Zesty Lemon Curd
1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)
Zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon Limoncello (optional)
½ cup butter
4 eggs, beaten.
1 teaspoon vanilla

First, stir together the arrowroot and sugar. Add the lemon juice, zest, and limoncello. Add the butter, cut into a few pieces and place over medium heat. Cook and stir mixture until it’s bubbly and thickened. In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Whisk in ½ of the hot lemon mixture, then return the mixture to the rest of the lemon mixture remaining in the pan. Whisking, cook for about 2 minutes. Mixture will be fairly thick. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and pour into a shallow container. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd, except for a small corner to allow steam to escape. Chill until cool.

This lemon curd is great, not only as an element to my cheesecake dish, but in many other dishes! For a quick dessert, spread the curd into a baked pie shell, top with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Or, fold in a stabilized whipped cream (cream whipped with some gelatin) to some of the curd and pile in a pie shell. Use as a filling for a cake, a topping for waffles, or in Swedish pancakes. Such a versatile ingredient!

To make the sugared blackberries, simply dip your finger into some sticky syrup, such as agave, honey, or corn syrup. Lightly dab the surface of the blackberry, just enough to make it sticky, but not so much that it is dripping. Roll in granulated sugar immediately. Don't make them too far in advance, as they will turn juicy and sticky.

I will keep you all updated if I make finalist for this contest. If I do, I’ll be hitting you all up for votes!
Below is the photo I entered!

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