Isn’t it gorgeous?
Yesterday I had a surprise visit from my friend and she brought some dairy stuff from her refrigerator because she had to travel unexpectedly to visit a family member that became ill. I received a few packages of farmer cheese (each weighs 8 ounces), goat cheese (each weighs 4 ounces), butter, sour cream, milk and some other stuff I did not really care for.
I was happy that she thought about me because I love both, farmer and goat cheese and they always welcome into my kitchen. She told me that I am the only “baker” and “food blogger” in her circles, so she was sure I will have good use for them, particularly for the cheeses and butters. She thought correctly. It appears that she buys the same Irish butters I do (Kerrygold’s Pure Irish Butter). BTW, I recommend to anyone that likes to bake to use Kerrygold’s butter, whenevr the recipe calls for it. It adds an exceptionally wonderful, buttery flavor to your cakes, tarts, pies and even makes a difference in chocolate ganache.
These items are, however, all perishable and you cannot store them for long time; not to mention, I would hate to throw them out. I was wondering, why would she buy so much farmer cheese, but I did not want to ask; it may sound as if I am complaining.
I know I can make a nice cheese spread that we all like. It is made with farmer cheese mixed with yogurt or sour cream (sometimes I add a tablespoon or two cream to make it softer) and scallions, radishes and cucumbers chopped into extremely small pieces. The last thing I add is a heaping tablespoon of sweet Hungarian paprika, a dash of hot Hungarian paprika, a teaspoon of cumin seed (or cumin powder) and salt and black pepper. It is great with fresh sour dough bread, but any other fresh artisan bread would do.
I was also thinking about making other Hungarian stuff, like cheese balls, or cheese crepes, but who will eat all those cheese dishes? Then it occurred to me, that I used to buy some great desserts from the “Dessert Truck” in New York City when I was living there, but the only thing I was not crazy about is their cheese cake made with goat cheese. I was thinking to re-create that with my recipe, when I’ll have the time and inclination. Well, no time is better than the current time. Please remember, however, that this will be the first time I will be making this dessert and mostly I will build it with components based on my knowledge and understanding of these ingredients.
Here we go…
Citrus-scented, Cheese Cupcake, with Lemon Curd and Chocolate Curls
(Loosely based on Cooks Illustrated Recipe)
I. The Base/Graham Cracker Crust
- Graham crackers with real honey, 5 ounce
- Toasted pecans, 3 ounce
- Sweet Butter, 2 tablespoons
- 2 tablespoons fine sugar
- ½ teaspoons salt
II. Cheese Filling
- 3 package of farmer cheese (24 ounce)
- 4-ounce goat cheese
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons, depending on the size and type you purchased)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 4 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2-cup baker’s sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, the content scraped into the heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sour cream (not the skinny one, please)
- ½ teaspoon salt
III. Lemon Curd
- ½ cup lemon juice (2-3 lemons, depending on the size and type you purchased)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ cup (3.5 ounce) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons chilled sweet butter, cut into small cubes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
FOR THE CRUST:
- Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325F degrees.
- Prepare a muffin/cupcake bake ware with silicon cups (that is what I use for a foolproof method and the look is attractive too. But you can use any cupcake liner of your preference.
- Toast the pecans for 10 minutes; mixing and turning them at half time. Cool the pecans on a rack then process them in the food processor to fine, even crumbs (you should use about 3 ounces for the base)
- Process the crackers in the food processor, to fine, even crumbs, (I placed two packs into the Food Processor, then weighed out 5 ounces for the base).
- Pour both crumbs into a clean bowl and mix them well.
- Add the sugar and mix it well again.
- Melt the butter
- Pour the warm melted butter on the crumb mix and blend it until the mixture is evenly moistened.
- Place 2 tablespoons of the crumb mixture into the prepared silicon cups and press it firmly to the bottom and as much as you can to the sides (you can use a small measuring cup to aid you in the pressing of the crumbs).
- Increase the oven temperature to 350F degrees
- Bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes).
- Cool on a wire rack to room temperature (about 30 minutes).
- When cooled, set the pan as is (with the baked crumbs in the silicon cups) into a roasting pan and filled the roasting pan with warm water so that it is about half the height of the muffin/cupcake pan.
FOR THE FILLING:
- While the crust is cooling, process 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon and orange zest with a wooden spoon until the zest is absorbed completely into the sugar and made the sugar moist and pale yellow.
- Stir in the remaining 1-cup sugar.
- Cut the vanilla bean into half, cut the half-open vertically and scrape the contents into the heavy cream
- Warm the heavy cream to the point of near boiling then let it rest until it is used
- Process the farmers- and goat cheese in the food processor until the cheese will resemble cream cheese. It may take up to 5 minutes.
- Take the cheese mixture out of the Food Processor and drop it into the Kitchen Aid Mixer Bowl, add the sugar/lemon/orange zest mixture in a slow steady stream while using the paddle unit of the mixer; increase the speed to medium and continue to beat until the mixture is creamy and smooth, scraping down the bowl with rubber spatula, as needed.
- Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs, 2 at a time; beat until incorporated, scraping sides and bottom of bowl well after each addition.
- Add the lemon and orange juice and salt and mix until just incorporated
- Add the heavy cream with the vanilla and mix until just incorporated.
- Give the batter a final scrape, stir with rubber spatula to make sure there are no lumps.
- Pour the cheese mixture into the silicon cups (leave about 1/8 inch at the top) the first 15 minutes place a wooden spoon in the door of the oven (the oven door will stay open);
- Then take away the spoon, close the oven door and bake for another 20 minutes (you may need to check the cupcakes earlier, because the timing is very much dependent on your oven) No need to change the temperature in the oven.
- The cupcake is done when the center jiggles slightly, the sides just start to puff, and the instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of cake registers 150 degrees.
- Turn off the oven and prop open the oven door with the wooden spoon handle; allow the cupcakes to cool in the water bath inside the oven for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, take out the pan and place it on a wire rack and continue to let it cool for 2 more hours.
FOR THE LEMON CURD:
- Heat the lemon juice in a small non-reactive saucepan over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
- Whisk the eggs and the egg yolk in a medium non-reactive bowl and gradually whisk in the sugar. Continue to whisk the egg/sugar mix until it almost looks like the egg mixture for baking a sponge cake.
- Continue whisking and slowly pour the warm lemon juice into the egg mixture; then return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to coat the wooden spoon.
- Immediately remove the pan from the heat source and stir in the butter until incorporated
- Stir in the vanilla and salt
- Press the curd through a fine-mesh strainer to assure that there are no lumps in the curd, into small nonreactive bowl.
- Cover the surface of the curd directly with plastic wrap ad refrigerate until needed.
TO FINISH THE CAKE:
- When the cheese cupcake is cool, take about a heaping tablespoon of the curd and spread it on the cheese-cupcake.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or over night).
- To serve, remove the silicon cup and place the cupcakes on a serving plate.
- Take a vegetable peeler and drop a few chocolate curls on the curd.
Thanks for visiting.
Please let me know if you will re-create it? And if the response is positive, let me know how did you like it?
Alternatively, could you share with us your dairy creation? It does not have to be a dessert. For instance, I remember in Hungary we ate (please do not laugh) what we called: “A Friend’s Ears.” The reason for the name, because the shape of the dough is made to look like a pair of ears and it is filled with cheese, like cheese blintzes
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