When we were in Portugal we kept hearing about the local cheesecake that was made from fresh white cheese into small tarts with a pastry crust. Needless to say, this sounded like a good thing to me. However, we never ran across one. Boo!
Needless to say, the idea stuck with me. I had to try and make one up – even though I never tasted the one it was based on. I liked the notion of a cheesecake that was more like a cross between cheesecake and souffle. It sounded light and nice, not as heavy as what we consider cheesecake to be. That’s just what it turned out to be. Yea for us!
The most surprising thing about them is that, well, first, that they turned out well on the first try and second, how completely clean and fresh they tasted. The cheese was made on Sunday and the cheesecakes on Monday, so there wasn’t any shelf time between the time the cheese was made and turned into cheesecake. Nor was there any sort of processed commercial taste about them.
Another really nice thing about the cheesecakes was that they highlighted some really stellar Minnesota dairy products; milk from Cedar Summit Farm and butter from Hope Creamery. Each left it’s stamp on the finished product and we were very grateful.
I think you should try it yourself.
Made Up Cheesecake
Simple Fresh Cheese
1 gallon whole milk
1/4 c vinegar
1 t salt
Cheese really couldn’t be any easier to make. Basically, you heat up the cheese and then add in an agent (i.e. vinegar) that helps the milk fats bind together to form cheese and separate from the liquid.
First you want to sterilize your equipment. Bring some water to boil in a pot big enough to hold a gallon of milk. Cover tightly and let boil for 15 minutes or so. Add in a scraper and a slotted spoon and boil them for 5 minutes or so. Empty out pan and return to stove.
Let cool for a minute or two and pour in milk. Heat milk over medium heat stirring regularly, so that you don’t scorch the bottom, until the the milk gets heated to 185°f. Add in vinegar a little at a time until milk starts to coagulate. (You will notice that this is happening when you see little linty bits of milk on the spoon you’re using.)
Scoop out curds with slotted spoon into colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Gather up the edges of the cloth and hang over sink until drained. Transfer to a container and eat or refrigerate.
1 packet graham crackers or equal amount of animal crackers
2 – 3 T butter close to melted
1/4 – 1/2 t cinnamon
3/4 of fresh cheese
4 oz goat cheese, softened
3 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c cream
2 t really good vanilla or seeds from one bean
pinch or 3 of salt, depending on how salty your cheese ended up
Preheat oven to 350°f.
Process graham crackers or animal crackers until all crumbled up. Drizzle with 2 T of butter and cinnamon. Process until crackers stick together when pinched. If it doesn’t get there add in more butter in small increments until it does. Press crusts into the bottom of 3 small spring-form pans. Place on a jelly roll pan. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Let out to cool.
In a food processor, process cheeses until smooth. Add in eggs and yolks one at a time, processing in between. Add in sugar, cream, vanilla and salt.
Pour into pans. Return to the oven and bake until firm in the middle about 30 – 40 minutes. Top with blackberry sauce or eat plain. Enjoy!