I'm going to start by wishing you all a Happy 4th of July! At the present moment, I have retreated north away from the heat of the Los Angeles to the beautiful shores of Lake Tahoe where I will be sipping clamatoes (don't hate) and eating lots and lots of food. But the history geek that lives inside me will also be in awe of the meaning of this holiday. On this day in 1776, the first Congress of the United States approved the Declaration of Independence, a document unlike any other in the history of the world, both in its eloquence and its contents. A document that paved the way for the constitution that created the beautiful nation we know and love today. Let's just take a moment to think about how amazing that is.
....Now, to the cheesecake!
I don't shy away from the tangy flavor of goat cheese, which is probably due to the fact that a small plate of pungent Greek feta was at the center of our dinner table during every meal throughout my childhood. As I got older and started going to wine bars, I discovered the delicious flavor combination that is blackberries, honey, and goat cheese. Not through the actual taste of the wine itself of course (that would be an incredibly funky blend) but through the cheese plates I compulsively ordered whenever I saw them on the menu. Something about the creamy yet tangy cheese, the rich and mildly tart berries, and the smooth and intoxicatingly sweet honey creates a combination of flavors and textures that is truly unique in its tastiness.
So, I decided to combine them in cheesecake form, and the good thing about using goat cheese in a cheesecake is that most individuals who are lactose intolerant are able to eat goat cheese without issue, since the stomach is able to break it down much easier than cow's milk. I used coconut milk, honey, and coconut oil to thin out the filling a bit and made a crust out of almond meal, coconut oil, and egg, and some honey to add a nice nuttiness to it. I reduced the blackberries over low heat with some honey and spices for the topping. When combined, it created a wonderfully smooth and creamy cheesecake with a fun little goat cheese tang.
I was able to chat a bit with the folks over at Whole Foods Market about the ingredients used in this cheesecake, particularly about the cheese and berries, and gained a lot of insight into the importance they place on sourcing local items. The Team Leader of the cheese dept was able to tell me the name of a southern California goat cheese farm right off the top of his head, and the Team Leader from produce informed me that all of their produce is sourced within a 250 mile radius, which is pretty incredible given the amount and variety of produce carried. And while I'm sure this varies depending on the availability of local produce in your area (southern California is an ideal growing climate), the commitment is there, and it's very reassuring to know that there is a chain grocery store that sources locally whenever possible. I also love that the folks who work there know the stories and sources behind the products in their department and can actually answer random questions like "where's the nearest organic goat cheese farm?"
And the kind folks at Whole Foods have been generous enough to offer up a giveaway for a $75 Whole Foods gift card! To enter simply use the rafflecopter widget below. Good luck everyone, and have a wonderful weekend!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
1 egg, whisked
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 and 1/4 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
Vanilla Goat Cheese Filling
3/4 lb mild goat cheese, warmed to room temp
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
12 oz blackberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
First, prepare the blackberry topping. Combine all of the ingredients in a small thick-bottomed saucepan and simmer over low heat for 45 min until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
To prepare the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together all ingredients until a coarse dough forms. Press the dough into the bottom of the springform pan and even it out. Poke it in a few places with a fork, place in the oven, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator to chill.
To prepare the filling, mix together all of the ingredients except the vanilla bean. Then scrape the pulp of the vanilla bean out into the bowl and set the husk aside (you can discard the husk or place it in a bottle of booze to infuse it with vanilla flavor). Mix until the filling is smooth and consistent in texture.
Scoop the filling into the cake pan and use a spatula to smooth out the top. Place in the freezer for one hour, then remove it and spread the blackberry topping over the cheesecake layer. Place in the freezer again and allow to freeze overnight.
Remove it from the freezer and allow to soften for 15 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan and the parchment paper wrapping. Slice and serve immediately and freeze any leftovers.