The first local fruit to hit the markets where I live is rhubarb. After a long winter of apples, apples and more apples, it’s refreshing to see something new. Rhubarb is remarkably versatile and can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. In desserts, it pairs very well with ginger, vanilla and of course, strawberrries.
Cheesecake is always a popular dessert and is a great choice for entertaining because it can be made in advance. It’s also surprisingly easy; don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe, it’s very simple if you take it step-by-step. Be sure to use a springform pan so you can easily remove and cut the finished cake.
Once strawberries come into season, you can always add a few to the rhubarb compote (a compote is basically a sweetened fruit sauce). Try a ratio of half strawberries and half rhubarb and sweeten to taste. The cheesecake base is pretty neutral so you can top with other favourite fruit sauces if desired.
Vanilla Cheesecake with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote
Makes one 9″ cheesecake
- 5 oz. (140 g) gingersnap cookies (hard ones, not chewy ginger cookies) – will yield about 1-1/2 cups of crumbs
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a food processor*, pulse the gingersnaps until they become fine crumbs. (*if you don’t have a food processor, place the cookies in a sturdy bag and crush until fine with a rolling pin or wine bottle). You should have about 1-1/2 cups of crumbs. Place the crumbs into a medium bowl.
- Melt the butter (it can be done in the microwave in about 45 to 60 seconds). Pour into the gingersnap crumbs and stir until the crumbs are completely coated.
- Press the crumb-butter mixture into the bottom of the springform pan, making sure it’s in an even layer.
- Bake the crust for five minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while preparing the cream cheese filling.
Cream Cheese Filling:
- 3 X 8 oz. (250 grams) packages of cream cheese (regular, not low-fat), at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream (regular, not low-fat)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- The seeds from one vanilla bean (split the bean in half lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape out the tiny seeds. Discard the empty pod)
- A pinch of salt
- 3 large eggs
- With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds and salt until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Turn the beater speed to low and add the eggs one at a time. Mix until smooth. Tip: Crack the eggs, one at a time, into a separate bowl before adding to the batter to ensure no shell pieces get into the filing.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust. Bake the cheesecake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until just set in the centre, about 40 to 50 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool slightly. Refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.
- To serve: Top with rhubarb compote (see recipe, below). Run a knife between the pan and the edge of the cake to loosen it before unhinging the springform pan.
Makes about 2 cups
- 1-1/2 lbs. (24 oz. / 680 grams) rhubarb (before leaves and roots are trimmed), will yield about 4 cups of rhubarb once trimmed and cut up
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar (or more/less, to taste)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch + 2 Tablespoons cold water
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Trim any leaves and root ends from the rhubarb and discard. Chop the stalks into 1/2″ chunks.
- Place the rhubarb pieces into a medium saucepan. Add the water and bring to a gentle simmer on medium heat.
- Cook until the fruit begins to soften, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the sugar, salt, ginger and vanilla. Stir to combine and continue to simmer until the rhubarb is completely soft. Use a large spoon or potato masher to crush the fruit.
- In a cup, add the cornstarch and water and mix well until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the rhubarb mixture and turn heat to medium-high.
- Cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the butter until melted. Remove from the heat and let the compote cool completely before using. Extra sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days.
- To finish the cheesecake: Spoon the cooled rhubarb compote over the cheesecake, spreading it in an even layer. Serve extra sauce on the side.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!
Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.