photo by Leah Paulette
I made a quick day trip to Savannah this week with my friend Leah*, who came spur of the moment to see me while her husband was off fighting fires for the Forest Service (impressive, I know.) We spent time on the beach reading aloud from Matilda, ran screaming from scary jellyfish water, walked for about 6 hours straight and ate seafood, icecream, bread, and cookies. And free samples of pralines on River Street.
I don't think most people understand my need to visit every bakery in a given city (this is hard in places like New York City, but believe me, I have tried). But Leah understands. She even reminded me about one we'd missed as we started to head home. Eric would've been praying I'd forgotten so we could get out of there- he doesn't really get it.
If you're planning a visit to Savannah, make sure you stop by Leopold's Ice Cream Shop, Harris Baking Company (AHmazing Ciabatta bread) and one that looked cool but we missed (cause it closes at 4pm), Back in the Day Bakery (a little ways from the main downtown area.)
*Leah and I have been officially best friends since 9th grade, when we stood in the bathroom at school and decided it was so. We shared family vacations. We lived together for a while in college. Then we did the whole maid-of-honor thing in each other's weddings. We're BFFs, no big deal.
So Leah came and hung out at work one morning while I baked. I rewarded her patience with bread pudding, which she confirmed is the best she's ever eaten. She even used her mad photography skills to capture images of this Goat Cheese Cake with Lemon Curd. Which, by the way, is DELICIOUS.
This Goat Cheesecake is one of the creamiest cheesecakes I've ever bitten into. Totally Luscious. The goat cheese flavor is subtle at first, then expands as you swallow each bite. The graham cracker crust is spiced with ginger and cinnamon. The addition of Lemon Curd isn't necessary, but the flavors are lovely together and it does bring it up a notch on the dessert-impressiveness-scale. Throw some strawberries or blueberries on the plate, and you have a dessert worthy of some fan fare. It manages to be tart and sweet, pungent and fresh all at the same time- also, people hear "goat cheese" and go nuts for some reason.
This is not your run of the mill NY style cheesecake with sticky berries in syrup, this is:
Goat Cheesecake with Lemon Curd and Fresh Berries. Inspired by Emeril's recipe.
Preheat the oven to 350. Get out a 9-in springform pan and a baking dish large enough to hold the springform pan.
For the crust:
2 cups finely ground graham crackers (or 2 cups gingersnap crumbs. if using gingersnaps, omit the spices) Using a food processor is the easiest way to get good crumbs.
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
Stir the graham crumbs, spices and sugar together. Slowly add the butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened and stick together when you squeeze them.
Press this mixture onto the bottom and sides of the springform pan, creating the crust for the cheesecake. Use your fingers or a straight-sided glass or measuring cup to make the job easy. Freeze the crust for 10 or 15 minutes. This will help it keep its structure in the oven. After freezing, bake the crust for 10 or so minutes until it is golden brown. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the batter:
3.5 packages cream cheese (28 oz total), room temp
1 cup sour cream
12 oz goat cheese, room temp
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoons Gran Marnier, Cointreau or orange extract
In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer with a deep bowl, mix the cream cheese until creamy. Add the goat cheese and the sour cream and mix until smooth. Add the sugar and mix, scraping down the bowl occasionally with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Finally, mix in the vanilla, lime juice and orange liquor until the mixture is completely smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared crust and smooth the top. Wrap tinfoil around the sides and base of the springform pan to make sure no water penetrates the pan during baking. Set the pan into the baking dish and fill the baking dish with very hot water so it comes halfway up the side of the springform pan. This is a waterbath and will ensure the cheesecake doesn't crack during baking.
Bake at 350 for about 1.5 hours (or 2 if you have shady spotty oven like me). The center will move only slightly when the cheesecake is done- the edges will be completely set.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool on a rack. Once cool, chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
While the cheesecake is cooling, make the lemon curd:
1 t finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 stick of butter
Whisk together the zest, juice, sugar and eggs in a heavy saucepan. Cook over med-low heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture has thickened and is bubbling.
Force the curd through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl to remove the zest, and any eggy bits. Cut the butter into 1/2 in pieces, and add them to the curd. Stir until the butter is melted. If you're in a hurry, use an ice bath to cool the curd, stirring occasionally. (Simply place the bowl of curd into a larger bowl of ice water.) Otherwise, place a piece of plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate until ready to use.
Serve the cheesecake with a dollop of lemon curd and a smattering of berries.