Mark Sisson says the best dessert you could cheat with on a primal diet would be cheesecake since it is high in fat and low in sugar relative to other desserts like cake, cookies, etc. But I won’t fool you-this cheesecake definitely has a good amount of sugar in it. Yet it is so delicious I just had to share! It may be the best cheesecake I’ve made yet. The combination of goat cheese, lemon curd, and the subtle hazelnut crust remind me of a great cheese plate! If you haven’t tried lemon curd poured over goat cheese with some nuts crushed over the top, you are truly missing out. And this cheesecake just takes that flavor profile to an entirely new and glorious level. My next project is to top this with a primal cheesecake-no grains in the crust and no refined sugar. Stay tuned!
I found this gem in the Science of Good Cooking-another amazing cook’s illustrated book thanks to my wonderful bro! I also have to admit I cheated and used pre-made lemon curd from Trader Joes but nobody would ever know the difference. If you are feeling extra energetic in the kitchen, go ahead and try their homemade lemon curd recipe below-I’m sure it is wonderful.
Goat Cheese and Lemon Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crust (Courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated) (Difficulty-Intermediate; Serves 12-14)
For the Crust:
- 5 oz. animals crackers
- 1/3 c. hazelnuts, toasted and cooled
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
For the Filling:
- 1 1/4 c. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. grated zest plus 1/4 cup juice from about 2 lemons
- 16 oz. cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks and left to stand at room temperature 30 to 45 minutes
- 8 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the Lemon Curd:
- 1/3 c. juice from 2 lemons
- 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
- 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
Make the crust: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Process hazelnuts in food processor with sugar until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add animal crackers until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter while pulsing. Pulse until mixture is evenly moistened and resembles wet sand. Empty crumbs into a 9-in. springform pan, and using the bottom of a ramekin or measuring cup, press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the pan, keeping the sides as clean as possible. Bake crust until fragrant and golden brown, 14-17 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack at room temperature, about 30 minutes. When cool, wrap the outside of the pan with 2 18-in. square pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil and set in a large roasting pan. Bring a pot of water to boil.
Make the Filling: Process 1/4 cup sugar and lemon zest in food processor until sugar is yellow and the zest is broken down. Transfer mixture to small bowl and stir in remaining cup of sugar. Using a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and goat cheese on low speed until softened. With the mixer running, add lemon-sugar mixture in a slow, steady stream. increase the speed to medium and beat until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low and beat in eggs, 2 at a time, until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and vanilla and mix well. Mix in cream until well incorporated.
Brush the sides of the pan with melted butter. Pour the filling into the pan and smooth with a rubber spatula. Set roasting pan on oven rack and pour enough boiling water in to come halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake cake until center jiggles slightly, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Turn off the oven and prop open the oven door with a wooden spoon. Allow the cake to cool in the water in the oven for 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack. Remove the foil and run a paring knife around the cake. Let cake cool completely for wire rack, about 2 hours.
Make the Lemon Curd: While cheesecake bakes, heat lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium until hot, but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolk together in a bowl, then gradually add the sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon juice into the eggs, then return the mixture to saucepan and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to cling to the spoon and registers 170 degrees, about 3 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and stir in cold butter. Stir in cream, vanilla, and salt, then pour curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Cover with plastic directly on the surface of the curd and refrigerate.
When cheesecake is cool, spread curd evenly over the top of the cheesecake with an offset spatula. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day. To unmold cheesecake, wrap a hot kitchen towel around pan and let stand for 1 minute. Remove sides of pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom and transfer the cake onto a serving patter.