Creamy Chai Cheesecake (or is it Pots de Crème?)
As some of you know my oven blew up last week, literally! I am still waiting with bated breathe for the UPS driver to deliver the new heating coil, so I can resume doing the thing I love most. It should finally come tomorrow and believe me I am regretting not paying the extra $37 to have it delivered overnight! Patience is clearly something I need to work on. Just before the oven combusted I'd made this creamy chai cheesecake. I guess it would be more aptly called a chai cream cheese pots de crème. Unlike the dry, grainy version so many of us are used to and frankly don't care for, this cheesecake is so smooth and creamy that it is just barely set. It is baked in a cup or ramekin, like a pot de cream, without the distraction of a crust. I was inspired by the chai pots de crème recipe in Indian Home Cooking, but was craving cheesecake. The combination is dynamite. I served it with the sugar plums that were meant to be roasted but ended up macerating in brown sugar and ginger overnight. First you will make the chai cream to be added to the cheesecake: 1 1/4 cups heavy cream 1 1/2 tablespoons loose Darjeeling Tea or Earl Grey tea 1 cinnamon stick 8 green cardamon pods 8 whole cloves A 1 1/2-inch piece fresh peeled ginger cut into chunks 8 peppercorns 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped Use a very fragrant Tea, it has to shine through all of the other ingredients. Pound the whole green cardamon pods in a Mortar and Pestle just to crack the pod and reveal the seeds. Put the cream, tea and spices into a sauce pot and heat very slowly. Once the cream comes to a simmer turn off the heat and allow to steep for 20 minutes, or transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight. The longer you allow the spices and tea to steep in the cream the more intense the flavor your cheese cake will have. In the meantime you will make the cheesecake: 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened 1 cup crème fraîche 1 cup sugar 6 large egg yolks 1 cup chai heavy cream (from above) Preheat the oven to 300º Beat the cream cheese on slow in your Stand Mixers until smooth, scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula. Add the crème fraîche and mix until smooth, scrape the bowl down. Add the sugar and mix until smooth, scrape the bowl down. Add the yolks two at a time and scrape the bowl after each addition. Strain the chai cream over the cheese cake mixture and then mix until incorporated. Divide the cheesecake batter into 12 4-ounce Ramekin. Set the ramekins into a roasting pan lined with a towel and fill the pan with hot water, to create a water bath. The water should come up about half way up the sides of the ramekins. Tent the pan with foil, cutting vents for the condensation to escape. Bake for about 20-30 minutes depending on the shape of your ramekins. The cheesecake will puff just very slightly and no longer look wet on the surface. Allow the cheesecake to sit in the waterbath until they are no longer too hot to handle with bare hands. This will prevent them from cracking. Let them sit on a cooling rack until room temperature and then cover and transfer to refrigerator. Allow to cool for at least an hour before serving. They can be done a day or two ahead. Serve with the macerated plums and a dollop of crème fraîche. Enjoy!
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