Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Saffron & Cardamom Cheesecake with Rosewater Mascarpone and Pistachio Topping

Yes, kids, you read that right: I made a cheesecake. My very first. And not a savory one either. Nope, this was a bona fide sugar bomb:

Never fear -  your Trix has not been body snatched. I am still firmly in the savory camp. But recently Poppa Trix experienced an uncharacteristic desire for a homemade sweet treat. Strange times indeed! Like me, his illicit food cravings tend towards the salty, the fried, and, of course, pizza. Always pizza. We literally never eat dessert after dinner. In fact,  I only own one cake pan, which I have never used. 

But every now and then it's fun to work outside of your comfort zone, so I decided to just go for it and make a cheesecake. I didn't know about the tragic and sudden death of food blogger Jennifer Perillo's husband, Mikey, when I was baking this last Sunday afternoon, and so I was too late to join in with other bloggers in making her husband's  favorite peanut butter pie for a loved one, as she asked people to do in her post.  But the spirit of her request was that we don't put off doing that special thing for the person we love, and I would like to think I'll remember that from now on. And when I inevitably forget that resolution and take Poppa Trix for granted,  I hope a cheesecake (or pizza) will always make it better.
For my first attempt, I didn't want to make a regular cheesecake and call it a day. I wanted to come up with something original. Mind you, I wasn't about to play with  actual proportions and method! I am no Foodiva, after all. For that, I followed Dorie Greenspan's recipe, as interpreted on Simply Recipes, and if you're looking for the perfect cheesecake recipe I suggest you do the same. It yielded a smooth, light, luscious custard that amazingly did not crack, not even a little. 

My first idea was to play with the flavors in an Indian rice pudding, or kheer, only without the raisins, as Poppa detests them. Some mental tasting led to this: a custard delicately scented with saffron and cardamom, topped with a layer of rosewater mascarpone topping. Perfection.

To make it, follow the Simply Recipes method, with the following changes:

- Add 1/4 tsp Saigon cinnamon to the graham cracker crust
- Add 1 heaping teaspoon cardamom and 1 teaspoon of saffron (that's been soaked in a teaspoon of hot water) to the custard
- Instead of sour cream for the topping, use half the amount of mascarpone, and only enough powdered sugar to give a slight sweetness. Whip the topping, don't just stir it, and add 1/2 teaspoon of rosewater. I added one drop of red food coloring to give it the pink blush.
- Top the cheesecake with crushed pecans.

Just as failed experiments ruin my day, successes put me in a fabulous mood, and I am still smiling over this. No, I didn't even eat a whole slice of it - as yummy as I think this was, cheesecake is just too rich for me. And once Poppa had his slice, his craving for sweets was completely satisfied, as least for the next month or so.

If you are a cheesecake fan, however, you will flip over this. Make it. I am sure I will again someday when the crazies strike. For now, though, I think I'll stick to pizza. 





33 comments:

  1. This looks divine Trix!!! Perfect capper for one of my Indian dinners. Must try!

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  2. I love pistachio what a great garnish! This looks perfect!

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  3. Wonderful job on your first cheesecake!! Savory one would be odd but interesting still =) I am a huge cheesecake fan, which is why I can't make this, at the risk of killing off the entire thing!

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  4. This looks great. I have to agree that the pistachio looks great. The saffron is an interesting flavor.

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  5. Well done! I'm always pretty scared of trying something new so kudos to you for rocking this fabulous cheesecake :)

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  6. This cheesecake has three of my favorite flavors--saffron, cardamom, and pistachios! I would be in HEAVEN in front of this bad boy! :D

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  7. Intersting flavors for a cheesecake. I would have never thought to do that.

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  8. That looks unbelievably tasty and yummy and deeelicious, and etc, etc, etc. :)

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  9. One of the prettiest cheesecakes I have ever seen. I love the Indian flavours!

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  10. Cheesecake and I aren't very good friends, but they are my BF's favorite - so in the interest of harmony in the house I put my brave face on and make one every couple of months or so...
    Really liked the flavor combinations you picked. Well done.

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  11. What a really great combination for a cheesecake! So pretty too!

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  12. Well I will def have to do this for my in-laws. Its a beaut! Congratulation's for working outside your comfort zone! (I'll pass on the rosewater thought but then you already knew that!)

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  13. Looks stunning, sounds intriguing :)

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  14. LOL, did I hear my name being mentioned? My heavens, Trix, I nearly had a minor stroke just reading the TITLE of this post and had to read the entire way down to make sure that I understood right! You made a cheesecake? YOU!!?

    Okay, after getting over the initial shock, I must give it to you. This cheesecake looks like it belongs in MY kitchen, it's that fab, right down to the pinkish topping. And those flavors.... I bet Poppa didn't know what hit him! At the risk of sounding like your mom, I'm sooo proud of you for making this out of sheer love for Poppa, and may I add, the rest of us sweet lovers out there ;-).

    PS. Just don't expect a pizza recipe out of me anytime soon...

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  15. beautiful, this needs to be on a pedestal with an orchestra with full strings in the background - you really know how to make ingredients shine...

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  16. MMMmmm this reminds me of Persian icecream that's made with saffron, rosewater, chunks of frozen whipped cream and pistachios. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  17. Where to start? This is your first cheesecake ever????????? I don't believe it. How can you not have made cheesecake before ;-) Well for a novice you made it like a pro, love the exotic flavors.

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  18. Beautiful! I would give it a 10 plus on the fluffy and luscious cheesecake scale. You have one lucky man there Trix;-)

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  19. Oh my gosh, Trix, um, wow...that looks fantastic! Silky, decadent, delicious!!

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  20. That is one gorgeous cheesecake, Trix! The flavors with saffron and cardamom must be spectacular and I love your addition of Saigon cinnamon in the crust.

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  21. Congrats on the first timer cake. Especially since it is like an exotic magic carpet ride of flavors. GREG

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  22. Great job Trix...this looks amazing! I can't believe it is your first...love the flavors :)
    Hope you have a great weekend :)

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  23. Oh.. beautiful flavours for a cheesecake. love to have a couple of slices.

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  24. :( how can i make it...it's really hard..

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  25. looks divinely rich...perfect for my sweet tooth! Theresa

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  26. I love cheesecake and this is one unique version. What a splendid combination of flavors. It looks perfect. Also love your green depression glass dishes. I have the same ones :-)

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  27. I never make cheesecake but this one is an exception. would love a slice with these exotic flavors that remind me of home.

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  28. Love the spices you used to bake this cheesecake, I am a cardamom lover :) great photos too.

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  29. This is a great take on cheescake - love the flavour combination. I wish I was a savoury snacker, or even better, one of those rare souls whose cravings are satisfied by crudités...

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  30. Such wonderful and Persian-inspired flavor combinations! Looks and sounds divine!

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  31. ^ Yes, Iranians are the saffron and rosewater experts.

    But 1 whole tsp of saffron for a cake?! … and still food colouring to make it pink?! ….so with that much saffron why isn’t it yellow?

    And, at the other extreme, ½ teaspoon of rosewater?!

    Still, I love cheese cake but will have to vary the saffron and rosewater proportions. Thank you.

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  32. ^^
    The cake is yellow, the frosting is pink. I find rosewater to be overpowering so I only used a tiny bit. I can only tell you that it received rave reviews - you certainly are free to make a cheesecake however you like! Good luck.

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  33. The proportions seem right to me. Cheesecake is very dense and fatty. It would need a bit of saffron to get the flavor profile out. And rosewater has no color. Duh. A little rosewater goes a long way for newbies.

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