Mascarpone Adds Interest to Cheesecake
Cheesecakes come in many variations but I am partial to those that use cream cheese as a base and then enhance with sour cream, crème fraiche, or as in this case, mascarpone cheese. They have substance from the cream cheese and the additional dairy adds creaminess – and with the mascarpone, an extra tang and a sophisticated flavor. The suggestion of the superfine sugar is a good nuance, but you don’t have to go out and buy superfine sugar just for this recipe; buzz your regular granulated sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, then measure. This recipe is from Pastry, by Richard Bertinet. Make sure to also check out his Chocolate Cherry Tart.
Pastry, by Richard Bertinet, Chronicle Books 2013, photographs by: Richard Bertinet
I wasn’t a huge fan of cheesecake until I tasted the one made by Ronnie Bonetti at Babington House in Somerset. Inspired by his original recipe, I came up with the variations below. Of course you can make one big cheesecake if you prefer.
- 1 recipe Bertinet Sweet Pastry
- 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt, for sealing the pastry
- 1 pound cream cheese
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- seeds from 1 large vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 14 ounces (1¾ cups) mascarpone cheese
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- Rest the pastry in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, preferably several, or, better still, overnight.
- Lightly grease eight 4 by ¾-inch removable-bottomed tart pans.
- Dust your work surface with flour, roll out the pastry 1/16 to ⅛-inch thick, and line the pans. Line with parchment paper and ceramic baking weights. Place in the refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Remove the pans from the refrigerator, place on baking sheets, and bake for 15 minutes. Lift out the parchment and ceramic weights, brush the pastry with the beaten egg, then bake for another 8 minutes. Set aside. Lower the oven to 300°F.
- To Make the Filling: Put the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla into a bowl and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs and yolks, then add the mascarpone, stirring until just incorporated. Fold in the flour.
- Divide the filling among the tart crusts, put back on the baking sheets, and bake for 45 minutes, until just set. Leave in the pans for about 15 minutes, then lift out and cool on a rack.
Passion fruit cheesecakes: Take 4 or 5 ripe passion fruits, cut them in half, and scrape the pulp into a small saucepan. Warm gently without boiling. Stir into the mascarpone mixture after you have folded in the flour.
Lemon cheesecakes: Omit the vanilla bean and mix the juice and grated zest of 2 organic lemons with the eggs and egg yolks before adding them to the cream cheese mixture.
Black currant (or other red fruit) cheesecakes: Put 9 ounces ripe fruit in a small saucepan, crush slightly with a fork, and warm gently, just to release the juices. Fill the pastry crusts with the mascarpone mixture, then pour the fruit and juices over each one, swirling the top with a small knife.