Baked “Anari” Cheesecake with Pomegranate seeds

pomegranate cheesecake.jpgI saw quite a few posts on Instagram of people picking apples this time of year. Well, in Cyprus, Autumn is the season for the sweetest, reddest pomegranates. I love them everywhere. Sprinkled over Salads, over a luscious pannacota or, in this case, over a creamy cheesecake. I used a combination of Philadelphia and “Anari” cheese which is the Cyprus version of Ricotta cheese, only lighter. Surely, this is not a guilt free cheesecake but it’s considerably lighter than the all Philadelphia version. The creaminess of course, is all there.

I reduced freshly squeezed pomegranate juice to make the syrup. You can of course buy a carton of store bought pomegranate juice and reduce that, but, your syrup will not have that bright red colour. I found that the easiest way to extract juice from pomegranate seeds is to put them in a blender or food processor and blend at low speed, so as not to grind the kernels. Unless you have a juice extractor of course.

For the crust:

  • 1 cup “digestive” biscuits, crushed (that’s about 8 biscuits)
  • 1 cup almonds, coarsely ground
  • 2 Tbs soft brown sugar
  • 70 grams unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake

  • 500 grams unsalted “anari” cheese (or Italian ricotta)
  • 400 grams “Philadelphia” cheese
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 large eggs

For the topping

  • 1 cup fresh pomegranate juice
  • 3 Tbs granulated sugar
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds

Method

Preheat oven to 175 C. You will need a round 23cm (9”) spring form cake pan, with removable sides. Butter the pan and line base with parchment paper.

Make the crust by mixing the crushed biscuits, almonds and brown sugar in a bowl. Pour over the melted butter and mix well with a spatula until butter is well distributed. Put mixture into prepared pan, and cover the base, pressing down well with the back of a spoon. Bake for 10 minutes. Leave to cool (it will harden as it cools).

When pan is cool enough to handle you need to wrap it in aluminum foil, as you will bake this cheesecake in a water bath. So, cut 3 large square pieces of aluminum foil and stack them one on top of the other. Put your pan in the middle and wrap the foil tightly around the sides of the pan, to prevent any water leaking into your cheesecake. Put your wrapped cake in a larger pan and set aside until needed.

Make the cheesecake mixture. Put all the ingredients for the cheesecake in the bowl of a blender or food-processor. Blend until mixed and smooth. Pour mixture in pan, over the baked crust. Pour enough boiling water in the larger pan, to come half way up the sides of your cheesecake pan. Put carefully in the oven. (I pour the boiling water in the larger pan, while it sits in the oven. It’s less stressful). Bake for one hour.

Bring pans out of the oven and remove cheesecake pan from the water bath. Leave cheesecake to cool completely in the pan. Transfer to the fridge and cool for 12 hours before unmolding.

Make the pomegranate syrup: Put pomegranate juice and sugar in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to boil and let it reduce to about ¼ cup. This might take about 10 minutes. Your syrup should be slightly thickened. It will thicken more as it cools.

To serve, run a spatula all the way round the sides of the pan. Release the sides and remove. Lift the cheesecake with a spatula and remove the greaseproof paper from the base. Transfer into a serving platter. Top with pomegranate seeds and drizzle with the cooled syrup.

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