Vanilla Cheesecake with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote

30 05 2011

Rhubarb at the market

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

Crust:

  • 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
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Press the crumb-butter mixture into the bottom of the springform pan, making sure it’s in an even layer.
  5. 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool slightly. Refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.
  5. 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.

Rhubarb-Ginger Compote:

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
  1. Trim any leaves and root ends from the rhubarb and discard. Chop the stalks into 1/2″ chunks.
  2. Place the rhubarb pieces into a medium saucepan. Add the water and bring to a gentle simmer on medium heat.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Vanilla cheesecake with rhubarb-ginger compote and a gingersnap crust

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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Rhubarb Refresher

15 05 2010

A Rhubarb Refresher is a delicious cocktail made with rhubarb, ginger and rum

Local rhubarb has just started appearing at markets in Southern Ontario and other areas won’t be far behind. The bracingly tart stalks are delicious in pies, tarts, drinks or even savoury dishes, provided you sweeten the fruit a bit.

This drink is a little sweet, a bit tart and has some heat from the ginger. It pairs well with rum to make a refreshing springtime cocktail that is perfect for entertaining.  For a non-alcoholic version, skip the rum and top the rhubarb-ginger syrup with club soda and a squeeze of lemon.

Rhubarb Refresher

Makes 2 drinks

  • Ice
  • 1-1/3 cups Rhubarb-Ginger Syrup (see recipe below)
  • 3 oz. amber rum
  • A generous squeeze of lemon
  • Club soda, to top drinks
  • Lemon wedges for garnish
  1. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, rhubarb-ginger syrup, rum and a squeeze of lemon. Shake well and strain into two low-ball glasses or martini glasses.  Top with club soda and garnish with lemon wedges.

Rhubarb-Ginger Syrup

Makes about 1-1/3 cup

  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces (about 3 to 4 stalks)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar, to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2″ piece of fresh ginger (about the diameter of a nickel), peeled and grated
  1. In a saucepan, add all ingredients and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Mash fruit well with a spoon.  Strain into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer, using a spoon to extract as much juice as possible (the leftover fruit solids are delicious to eat).
  3. Let syrup cool and use as desired.  It will keep covered in the fridge for a few days.

Cheers and Enjoy!





Spring Cocktails

1 06 2008

Springtime typically brings a number of occasions for celebration – graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, wedding showers, birthdays, etc.  What better way to toast your special occasion than with a cocktail inspired by the blossoming season?  Even if that occasion is just a Friday night with your friends!

A number of cocktails are made with a simple syrup (water and dissolved sugar) or sour mix as an ingredient.  I’ve taken that idea and developed a syrup made from fresh strawberries and rhubarb.  It’s both sweet and tart and provides a refreshing change from the usual cranberry juice mix. 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Syrup

Yields approximately 1 cup

(VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY)

  • 2 stalks rhubarb, diced (approx.  1-1/4 cup)
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to medium-low and cover pot.
  2. Simmer on medium-low heat until fruit is softened, approximately 3 minutes.
  3. Mash cooked fruit with a potato masher until all solids resemble puree.  Place a mesh strainer over a large bowl and carefully pour fruit mixture into strainer.
  4. Stir the mixture in the strainer with a spoon until the liquid has all strained through leaving just pulp (it can take a while because the puree is quite thick).   Discard fruit solids.
  5. Return the liquid from the bowl to the saucepot and simmer on medium heat until it’s reduced by about half.   Remove from heat and cool.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Canadian 75

Makes 1 drink

(VEGETARIAN)

This is a variation on a classic cocktail called a French 75.  The original is made with simple syrup but the strawberry-rhubarb syrup adds a new dimension of flavour.  The night my husband proposed we were drinking French 75 cocktails so it is a drink that always makes me smile.  Don’t use expensive champagne for this – an inexpensive, dry sparkling wine will suffice.

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz strawberry-rhubarb syrup (see recipe above)
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • Dry sparkling wine

Combine gin, syrup, and lemon in a champagne flute.  Top with sparkling wine.

 

Le Printemps

Makes 1 drink

(VEGETARIAN)

This martini-style cocktail is a refreshing alternative to the Cosmopolitan craze that has swept the drink scene over the past few years. 

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1/4 cup strawberry-rhubarb syrup (see recipe above)
  • 5 – 6 ice cubes
  • Dry sparkling wine
  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, strawberry-rhubarb syrup and ice.  Shake well until combined.
  2. Strain into a martini glass and top with sparkling wine.  Garnish with a strawberry slice.

 

Springtime Kir

Makes 1 drink

(VEGETARIAN)

Kir Royale is an apertif often enjoyed before meals in France.  It’s made with cassis and champagne.  This is a new alternative to the classic drink.

  • 1/2 oz strawberry-rhubarb syrup
  • Dry sparkling wine

Pour strawberry-rhubarb syrup into the bottom of a champagne flute.  Top with sparkling wine.

Bon Appetit and Enjoy!