Crème Fraîche Cheesecake with Rhubarb Compote

slice of crème fraiche cheesecake

We adore cheesecakes in all of their guises, from ricotta-based Italian style and dense, creamy New York style, to this ethereal version based largely on the sweet yet slightly tangy crème fraiche. Some cheesecakes are baked slowly in water baths or low temperature ovens. Our crème fraiche cheesecake is initially baked at a high heat, which gives it a distinguished brown top crust, while the center stays light and moist. This is all about the crème fraiche, so make sure it is very fresh. We use Vermont Butter & Cheese brand, which has consistently good flavor and texture. The rhubarb compote is not necessary, but is certainly a nice addition. Feel free to use a fruit compote of your choice.

Crème Fraîche Cheesecake with Rhubarb Compote
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, preferably very red, cut into three 1-inch pieces (you may or may not need to cut it lengthwise depending on the width of the stalks)
  • 2 cups very finely ground shortbread cookie crumbs, such as Lorna Doon Shortbread (one 10 ounce box)
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1½ pounds full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups crème fraiche, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  1. For the Compote: Stir the sugar and water together in a medium-sized sauté pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Add the rhubarb and simmer just until tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Compote may be used immediately or carefully transferred to a shallow, wide, airtight container, taking care to keep the rhubarb in whole pieces. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  2. For the Crust: Position rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350° F. Generously butter the insides of a 9-inch springform or loose-bottomed pan.
  3. Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl, then press into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until dry and just turning light golden brown. Cool pan on a rack while you prepare the filling. Increase the oven temperature to 500° F.
  5. For the Cheesecake: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until very smooth with the flat paddle attachment on medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl once or twice. Beat in the vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Fold in the crème fraiche and flour by hand just until combined. Scrape the cheesecake batter over the crust in the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 275° F and open the oven door so that oven cools down as quickly as possible (depending on your oven this will most likely be mere minutes). Close the oven and continue baking at 275° F for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until the top is tinged golden brown, the cake is puffed, and the center jiggles if gently shaken. Cool completely on a rack. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. Unmold the cake and serve cold, cut into wedges, with the compote alongside.

Bakepedia Tips

  • Take care when poaching the rhubarb so that it retains its shape; you do not want it breaking down into shreds.
  • While many cheesecakes that contain cream cheese freeze well, the delicate texture of this crème fraiche cheesecake is best enjoyed within a day or two of baking.
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