Cheesecake with Cacao Crust

September 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

Dessert. I have a small obsession with it as it is, but top it with figs & I’m squirming with delight!

There is something seductive about figs.  Actually, I can pinpoint it for you; their curvy shape is quiet womanly & when they’re ripe, the tender dark skin promises sweet flesh every time. That’s only visually, but one whiff of any mature fig & you’ll swear you’ve just inhaled hints of vanilla, caramel & honey. It’s no wonder some scholars believe it was a fig that reeled Eve into temptation in the Garden of Eden.

Figs are by far one of the most under-appreciated fruits. Not only are they savory & sweet but they also are high in potassium, calcium & dietary fiber.  Figs can be eaten raw, dried or poached, but the raw ones are by far the most esthetically pleasing. In Italy, Shann would pick them off trees for me to eat. I’ve always been infatuated with them, but there is nothing like eating them fresh off the branch. No two were the same, but each one was delicious non-the-less.

This recipe is unique in the sense that the crust is made of cacao nibs & pecans. The bitter nibs really compliment the complex sweetness of the figs while adding texture & character to the crust against the creamy ricotta cake.

Cheese Cake with Cacao Crust

Cacao Nib Crust:

14 graham crackers,  1/4 cup toasted pecans,  1/4 cup raw cacao nibs,  1/4 cup *blonde coconut palm sugar,  4 tbs organic butter, melted,  1/2 tsp sea salt

*Brown sugar, sucanat & coconut or date sugar can be substituted for coconut palm sugar.

Ricotta Cheese Cake:

350g organic* whole milk ricotta,  500g organic cream cheese,  1 cup sugar (superfine),  4 eggs,  1 tsp vanilla extract, 10 black mission figs, cut into thin slices, 1/4 cup sugar

*Organic butter, ricotta & cream cheese are not necessary, but for the best quality & for health concerns in general, always use organic dairy products.

Preheat oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread pecans on a baking sheet & bake for 5 minutes until fragrant. Meanwhile, coat a spring-form pan with butter.  In a food processor pulse graham crackers, toasted pecans, cacao nibs, sugar & salt. Add butter & pulse until crumbs stay together when presses between two fingers. Evenly line the buttered spring-form with the crumbs, pressing them gently. With a paper towel wipe the sides of the pan to remove any stray crumbs.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl beat the ricotta & cream cheese for 5 minutes until smooth. Add the sugar & continue to beat for 3 to 4 minutes. Mix the sugar into the cheese mixture until it is completely dissolved. Add each egg separately, mixing completely before adding the next. Mix in vanilla.

Gradually pour the ricotta mixture into the spring-form pan. Bake for 1 hour (on convection my oven takes about 50 minutes, but it could take up to 70) or until firm to the touch & a light golden yellow.

Meanwhile mix figs with sugar & refridgerate until ready to use.

When the cheese cake is finished let it cool, then refrigerate in the spring form pan for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. When ready to serve top with the fig mixture.

Enjoy Liberally!

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