Summary: This is another wonderful Melissa Clark creation that I found in the NYTimes Dining section. The combination of black pepper and sour cherries in concert with the cream and goat cheeses and crème fraîche is magnificent!
Quick notes: I had sour cherries frozen from the summer, so cooked them a bit longer than the 2-3 minutes suggested for fresh cherries. Maybe 5 minutes for frozen. They worked perfectly! And, I recommend making a graham cracker crust for this: Take 14 graham crackers, crush, and mix with 6 tablespoons of melted butter. Use that mixture to line the bottom of the springform pan with them, pushing them slightly up the sides too.
Yield: one 9" cheesecake
- 1½ cups cream cheese
- ½ cup fresh goat cheese
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ cup crème fraîche
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 large eggs
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 pints sour cherries, pitted
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
To make the cheesecake, heat the oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Wrap the bottom of a 9" springform pan with foil and place on a baking sheet.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and goat cheese until very smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until no lumps remain. Beat in the crème fraîche, vanilla and pepper. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions, and beat until combined.
Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temp to 250-275° (depending on how warm/cool your oven bakes), and bake until the cake is just set (it will still wobble a little in the middle), 45-60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cheesecake is cooling, make the cherry topping. Pour the sugar and ⅔ c water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar has thickened, 5-8 minutes. Add the cherries and balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cherries soften and release their juices, 2-3 mins. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to a bowl. Continue cooking the liquid in the pan until the sauce reduces by half, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir the cherries and any juice from the bowl back in.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake from the pan before unmolding and serving with the cherry topping.