Pansies Under Glass Crème Fraîche Cheesecake in a Walnut Crust

A Rich and Creamy Crème Fraîche Cheesecake with a White Chocolate Frosting

pansies under glass

This is a rich NY-style crème fraîche cheesecake with the addition of a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. The top is covered with pressed pansies and rose petals, which are covered with an apple jelly glaze – the “glass”. Plan ahead: the flowers must be pressed for at least three days, but may be done up to a week ahead. Make sure the flowers are unsprayed. Read more about Edible Flowers.

Pansies Under Glass Crème Fraîche Cheesecake in a Walnut Crust
Makes: Makes 1, 9-inch cheesecake; Serves 12
Pressed Flowers:
  • About 20 to 25 pansies
  • 1 or 2 roses, fully opened, petals separated (optional)
Walnut Crust:
  • 1½ cups walnut halves, toasted
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 pounds full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 15 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped, such as Callebaut or Valrhona Ivoire or El Rey Icoa
  • 1 pound full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup plus 6 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup apple jelly
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water
  1. Press the Pansies: Using a flower press or a large, heavy book, press the pansies and petals between pieces of clean white paper. Do this three days to a week ahead.
  2. Make the Crust: Position rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 3-inch deep springform cake pan with nonstick spray. Wrap outside of pan with extra-wide aluminum foil. Have ready a larger roasting pan to create a water bath.
  3. Place walnuts, flour and sugar in bowl of food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until nuts are reduced to a fine meal. Add melted butter and process on and off a couple of times to incorporate.
  4. Press walnut crust into pan, evenly covering bottom and going up the sides ½-inch.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just beginning to turn a light brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until needed.
  6. Meanwhile Make the Cheesecake: In your stand mixer's bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth using the flat paddle attachment. Add sugar gradually and continue beating until lightened and completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down batter once or twice. Beat in lemon juice, zest and vanilla. Stir in crème fraîche by hand until completely incorporated. Pour over crust. Place cheesecake pan in a larger pan and fill with hot water to come halfway up the cheesecake pan making sure water does not go above the aluminum foil.
  7. Bake for 1 hour. The top should just be tinged with brown and will look dry and smooth. Turn oven off and let cake remain in oven for 1 more hour. Remove pan from water bath and refrigerate cake overnight, before unmolding.
  8. Unmold. Keep refrigerated up to 2 days, covered with plastic wrap or proceed with frosting and decoration.
  9. Make the Frosting: Melt chocolate in top of double boiler. Stir until completely smooth. Cool to slightly warm room temperature. Beat the cream cheese in your stand mixer’s bowl and butter on medium-high speed until smooth using the flat paddle attachment. Beat in vanilla extract. Place a strainer over frosting mixture. Scrape melted chocolate into strainer and press through, using a rubber spatula. Beat chocolate in until completely incorporated and frosting is smooth. If the texture seems grainy or separated, refrigerate until completely firm (this will bring all the ingredients to the same temperature), then soften by warming carefully in the microwave and whip again until smooth.
  10. Frost the cakes top and sides. Pipe a shell border around the top and bottom edges using a #18 star tip. You make any design you like, just make sure that the edge is continuous as this decorative design must also keep the glaze from dripping down the cake's sides. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  11. For the Flowers and Glaze: Place pressed pansies and rose petals on cake top, pressing lightly onto buttercream to adhere. Meanwhile, heat jelly with water on low heat in small saucepan until melted. Press jelly through a fine strainer into a measuring cup with a pouring spout. Immediately pour glaze slowly over top of cake. You want to cover the space within the decorative border completely to create the “glass”. Tilt the cake around to facilitate this. If there are any uncovered spots, use a spoon to gently pour glaze and fill them in; do not swipe with an icing spatula as it will mar the surface. Refrigerate cake to set glaze, at least 30 minutes. Cake may be held overnight at this point. Serve chilled. Cut cheesecake with a thin bladed knife run under hot water between slices.
  12. This cake is fabulous served with fresh strawberries, raspberries or blackberries.

Image: Courtesy of Dennis Gottlieb

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