I got inspired to make this when I saw it while browsing on a food app on my iPhone. I have been looking for reasons to use my orange blossom water. I know that I could have just used some orange juice or zest and got an orange flavor, but I love the light floral notes in orange blossom water. It is easily found at any Middle Eastern market store, and it lasts forever if refrigerated. Pomegranate fruit is just fun and messy as can be, but it’s worth the work for that crunchy tart flavor. Blackberries remind me of my childhood home. We had wild blackberry bushes all over the property that we used to just stop and eat when we got hungry while playing outside. With three of some of my favorite ingredients in this one dessert, I could not wait to make it.
You can take a typical cheesecake to a new level by adding in the orange blossom water. The flavor is amazing and subtle. You can even substitute the orange blossom water for lemon juice and you could have a great basic cheesecake recipe. The compote is tart and flavorful. The leftovers are fantastic as a syrup over waffles or pancakes. Maybe even ice cream? The possibilities are up to you.
Seeding a pomegranate is not as troublesome as you might think. It is as simple as filling a bowl with cold water, cutting your fruit into quarters, and working it in the water prevents the juice from squirting everywhere, also easily sorts out the seeds from the skin. The seeds sink to the bottom of your water bowl, and the skin floats. Here is a great video on how to seed a pomegranate the way I am trying to describe. Much easier than you might think, over all it produces a flavor that the bottle juice cannot match.
There are a few tips I have picked up to help prevent large cracks in your cheesecakes. Watch the temperature of the cake is a big one, but to me not as big as greasing the sides of the spring-form pan before you add in the filling. Also can always add a bit of cornstarch to the recipe to help stabilize the egg proteins. I like to use all three methods with this specific cheesecake recipe, which is my favorite to go to.
Orange Blossom Cheesecake
- 1/8 c Chopped Walnuts (optional)
- 8 Graham Cracker Sheets (1 sleeve of a box) one sheet is 4 small un-perforated cookies
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 5 tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
- 5 Blocks (8oz) Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 c Sugar
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 Vanilla Bean, seeds
- 1/3 c Sour Cream
- 1 tbsp Corn Starch
- 1 tbsp Water
- 6 Egg (whole), room temperature
- 2 Egg yolk, room temperature
- 2 tsp Orange Blossom Water
- 1 Pomegranate, seeds removed
- 2 tsp Water
- 12 oz Blackberries fresh or frozen
- 1/3 c Sugar
- 1 tsp of Gelatin
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of 8″ or 9″ spring-form pan with a piece of parchment paper.
To make the crust; In a food processor combine the graham crackers, sugar, and nuts. Blitz until small crumbs form. Pour in the melted butter and blitz again until the mixture is now moist. Pour into springform pan. With a flat-bottomed glass press firmly into the base in an even layer. Once the crumbs are packed into the bottom of the pan bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are just starting to go golden. Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the filling. Raise the temperature of your oven to 475°F once the crust is removed.
To make the filling; Prep to make things go easier. Add all the eggs and yolks into a bowl, and set aside. In a small cup or dish combine 1 tbsp of water with 1 tbsp of cornstarch, mix until thick and smooth. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces before adding into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the seeds of the scrapped vanilla bean to the beater blade of your stand mixer, makes it easy to scrape all the beans off.
In the bowl of your stand mixer you should have the cream cheese in chunks and the beans of the vanilla on the beaters. Now before you start your mixer add 1/2 c of the sugar to help loosen up the cream cheese. Mix until fluffy, scrape down the sides. Add in the remaining sugar, sour cream, and salt, mix until incorporated, scrape down the sides. Add in the eggs two yolks at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Once incorporated scrape down the sides and turn the mixer back on, slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture and orange blossom water mix for 30 seconds, until well combined.
Place your prepared and cooled crust in the spring-form pan on a cookie sheet with high sides. With a pastry brush, melt about 1 tbsp of butter and brush the sides of the pan with the melted butter to help prevent sticking which is the main cause of cracks in the cheesecake.
Pour the mixture into the prepared spring form pan. Lightly tap the tray on the counter to release any air bubbles. Then with the back of a spoon smooth out and burst the bubbles on the top of the filling. Put the springform pan in the oven which should be at 475°F, cook for 15 minutes and without opening the door turn the oven down to 200°F. Let the cake cook for 90 minutes. With an instant read thermometer check the temperature in the center of the cake at 90 minutes. You don’t want the center to reach beyond 155°F or it can cause cracks. If it is between 148-152°F this is ideal. If it is under leave in the oven for another 15-20 minutes depending on how far you are from the target temperature. Check the temperature every 15-20 minutes until the ideal temperature is reached.
Once the center of the cake reads between 148-152°F remove from the oven and run a sharp thin knife along the edge of the cake between the pan as extra insurance to prevent cracks. Let the cake cool on a wire rack completely 2-3 hours, before transferring to the fridge to cool for at least 4 hours to overnight.
To make the compote; Remove the seeds of one pomegranate. I used the method of the video from above. In a small sauce pan over medium heat combine the pomegranate seeds, 1/2 of the blackberries, water and 1/2 of the sugar. Once the mixture is hot and simmering pour into blender and pulse 2-4 times until the mixture is smooth puree. Sieve the mixture back into the sauce pan to remove the pulp and seeds. Add the remaining blackberries and sugar. Bring up to a light simmer, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin. Allow to cool to room temperature, transfer to the storing container. It will thicken as it cools. Will keep in fridge well sealed for a week.
Can use over pancakes/waffles, ice cream, cheesecake, as a filling for cakes or cupcakes, lemonade, added flavor to lemon lime sodas, anything! Enjoy!
Inspired by: Epicurious