Orange Blossom Pomegranate Cheesecake

Pomegranate Cheesecake

There is something special about cheesecake.  Tasty and creamy, it seems to somehow make everything right at the end of a nice meal.  I have made a few cheesecakes in my life.  From rich decadent amaretto topped with juicy delicious cherries to one made of yogurt with a crust of granola and topped with an array of fresh fruit.  Cheesecakes are not hard to make and are often highly appreciated by those who get to eat them!  This recipe is no exception.  For those of us who enjoy dairy it also offers a relatively healthful dessert packed with protein because of the protein rich greek yogurt.  The topping for this cake is a beautifully fragrant mix of pomegranate arils and orange blossom water with a touch of cinnamon. The taste if the topping combined with the cheesecake simply divine. Pomegranate season is Fall into Winter and you can often find them at the grocery store whole and beautiful ready for the adventure of harvesting the seeds.  Or you might find the arils in your produce section already liberated from their skins and prepared for eating.  The arils are tasty looking like beautiful little rubies and my kids love to eat them as a snack.

Make Yourself A Cake

Ingredients

Crust ~

  • 2 cups of pecans (or other nut)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil

Filling ~

  • 8 ounces neufchatel cheese softened
  • 2 cups greek yogurt (I used 1 17.6 ounce container Fage 0% to make it easy on myself)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • a big splash of lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping ~

  • arils from 2 to 4 pomegranates or about 1 to 2 cups if you can find them already removed from the rind
  • 2 tablespoons orange flower water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey
  • a generous sprinkle of cinnamon depending on your taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust ~ Pulse the pecans in a food processor until they are ground up into a sandy mixture.  Add the sugar and butter and pulse again until the mixture starts to hold together.  You should be able to squeeze it together and have it hold.  Pat the crust into a 9" spring-form pan.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until it seems set.

For the filling ~  Start with the neufchatel, whip it in a blender until it is soft and creamy.  Then add the other ingredients and whip everything up together until it is soft and creamy.  I know you are not supposed to eat raw eggs, but you might want to take just a little taste at the stage and see what you think.   Does it need more honey?  More lemon juice or salt?  Adjust as your senses tell you too.  Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the side begin to pull away from the pan.  The center will still be wiggly and that is ok.  If you get freaked out about whether or not it is done, like I often do, stick a thermometer in there and check to see that the temperature in the middle of the cake is 160 degrees.  Let your cheesecake cool and set for 6 hours to 2 days.

For the topping ~ Combine the pomegranate arils, sugar and orange blossom water with enough cinnamon to satisfy you, for me this means at least a teaspoon, other folks might like more or less.  Stir and let this all sit for at least 30 minutes before serving on top of your lovely cheesecake.

To make this super yummy cheesecake I used the following resources:

The topping came from Moroccan foodon about.com.  Apparently the combination of pomegranates with orange flower water and cinnamon is a traditional food in Morocco.  

Cauldrons and Crockpots is one of my new favorite blogs and I made her recipe for pomegranate molasses to put inside of and on top of the cheesecake but when it was all made, I just couldn't use it.  The molasses was incredibly tasty and we just knew we had to save it for enjoying at our leisure.  Seriously make some, it is incredible!

Su Good Sweets Here is the original inspiration for this cheesecake.

I found the crust recipe here atFifteen Spatulas.  The crust is incredibly tasty but was a bit soggy.  I think a bit of flour or some crushed graham crackers would firm it up a bit.

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A Cheesecake Dream...

~ This is what came out one evening in writing group about a lady and her cheesecake.

This was to be an exquisite creation.  One that moved her emotions towards giddy anticipation.  She had carefully planned all aspects of her creation.  Excitedly she entered her kitchen one hazy afternoon with a mood of magic about her.  She combined each ingredient, savoring the moments.  Oven preheated and pan full, she place the cheesecake into the oven.  Retreating to the other room with a cup of tea, she sunk down deeply into a chair to wait, to wait for the cake to be done.  The clock and her nose told her when it was time.  The cheesecake came out perfectly.  The top of the cake received a generous mound of dark luscious blueberries.  

“This is all for me” she thought.  

Not even bothering to cut a slice or use a plate, she took the whole thing to the table (in this dream the cheesecake didn't need to cool) and enjoyed one rich bite after another until she was full.  Full of cake.  Full of creation born from inspiration.  Full of the moment...

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