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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Dessert- Lemon Curd and Vanilla Cheesecake with Summer Berries and Lavender Syrup

Ahh cheesecake. Quite honestly I'm not sure why but I have never been much of a fan. I  tend to find it heavy, rich and sometimes boring. Yet, I have recently been persuaded to think otherwise. 

Cheesecake has taken over Paris like a storm (like an El Nino winter in San Francisco when the streets are flooded with heavy obnoxious rain for weeks upon weeks as the sky is blanketed with clouds or a Maui tropical storm that leaves everyone in the hotel lobby for hours upon hours waiting until it passes,  tapping their feet, jumping over rain puddles filled with ribbeting frogs. 

This cheesecake storm is a good kind of storm ie., is the new Parisian thing. I'm not talking about a cheesecake which is heavy, overly cooked or a overly sweet. The cheesecake I am talking about is a soft, light and ever so delicate dessert which is made of a lovely mix of cream cheese, mascarpone and fromage blanc (a heavy almost yogurt like cheese). 

Paris is the epitome of perfection and as such so is their version of cheesecake! If you find yourself in the city of lights and lucky enough to be staying in a rented apartment, go ahead and head to the Sunday market at Bastille, grab yourself the ingredients, pick up your lavender while jibber jabbering with the bearded baret wearing french man selling soaps and lavender and head home to bake this. Or if you're in a hotel then head to Rose Bakery to try their cheesecake, La Laiterie in the 7eme or pretty much any nice restaurant in town to try the Parisian version of cheesecake.

Bon appetit :) xx

Lemon Curd and Vanilla Cheesecake with Summer Berries and Homemade Lavender Syrup 
A nice twist on a traditional cheesecake 
Makes 10 Servings
  • Crust  
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Speculoos (a delicious ginger/ cinnamon cookie) or graham crackers if you can't find speculoos
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Filling
  • 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 pound Fromage Blanc
  • 1 1/2 cups mascarpone (3/4 pound), at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup of lemon curd
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • Lavender Syrup
  • 1/4 cup dried lavender flowers
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
1.     In a food processor or even a mini coffee grinder grind up the cookies or speculoos. Add the flour, sugar and butter and pulse. Beat the egg with the vanilla and add it to the processor. Pulse until it just begins to come together. 
2.     Scrape the dough into a round. Refrigerate for at least 30 mins
3.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Push the crust onto a 9inch cake pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan and build it up 1inch on the sides of the pan (this is important to avoid the filling from leaking out the sides). Prick the crust with a fork and freeze it for 10 minutes until firm. Bake the crust for 15 mins or until just golden brown in the oven. Transfer to let it cool. 
4.     Make your lemon curd and lavender syrup (In a saucepan, fully cover the lavender w/ about 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture over moderately high heat for 1-5 minutes. Now cover, remove the flowers from the heat and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes). Strain and discard the flowers. Next in a small saucepan, combine the sugar with the remaining 3 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stir it once or twice to fully dissolve the sugar. Continue to simmer the syrup, without touching it, until it reaches 280° on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage), about 4 minutes. Slowly and carefully pour in the strained lavender water, stirring constantly over moderate heat until smooth. Let the lavender syrup cool to room temperature, transfer to a small pitcher and serve.
5.     Turn down the oven to 325. In a large bowl using a mixer beat the cream cheese with the fromage blanc, mascarpone and sugar on a medium to high speed until light and fluffy about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, scrape one vanilla bean into the mixture and beat until all is well blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. 
6.     Pour the filling mixture on top of the baked crust. After pouring in half of the filling drizzle in some of the lemon curd and swirl with a spoon. Bake in the center of the oven for around 40 minutes until lightly browned on top and still a bit jiggly in the center. Transfer to a rack to let it cool. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge over night
7.     Heat some blackberry jam in the fridge. If you can mix a Tbls of blackberry jam and some clémentine jam and a Tbls of the lemon curd. Spread this over the top of the cheesecake. Now top with a spiral pattern of blackberries and fresh raspberries. 
8.     Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it, then un click the pan and remove the cake from its molding. Cut the cake into wedges and serve with the lavender syrup!

Lavender leaves

Swirls of fresh lemon curd to add brightness and acidity to the cake

Cheesecake alongside a nice holiday Pumpkin Pie

And a holiday homemade Tarte tatin
The table


  1. Considering the picture I seem to like your cooking ;)

  2. why do i read your blog when i'm already hungry? i can't wait for you to come back and cook :)

  3. Or else go to the jewish bakery in the Marais...they have a brilliant cheese cake too. (Coffee Parisian if you are really in a mood for a full out American lunch or dinner...rootbeer, best burgers in town and biliant pecan pie)


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