MY GIRL, TALLI, IS THE SH*T. Talli, the punk rock princess also known as Nubs, is one of the most genuine, honest and funny people you could ever have the pleasure to dine with. She has the type of spirit that causes conversation to roll off your tongue and a shared enthusiasm for food that kick starts my creativity. It’s Talli’s positive energy that makes her stand out from others; her determination and ability to handle anything a person with two arms could, although she was born without, is just bonus to her spectacular. She’s awesome. She’s an inspiration. She deserves one helluva tasty dessert when she invites you over for dinner.
Last Friday night, the night before my gang went to visit Talli’s gang, I was still stuck on what to prepare. I was staring into the fridge, logging inventory with my random thoughts:
Alight, we have the 7 pounds of blueberries the girls and I just picked… needs to be something blueberry-tastic. Blueberry cake? Muffins? No, too boring, I need to do something with a certain je ne sais quoi… Hey, cream cheese. No sour cream for a traditional cheesecake but I do have some vanilla Greek yogurt. Hmmmmm… an experimental light blueberry cheesecake would work for a summer BBQ, but I still need a crust, preferably something gluten free so I can dive in too. Ah ha! Glutino’s pretzel sticks.
This is how I spend my Friday nights now, folks. Talking to myself, baking up a cheesecake. (Remember when I used to bake up trouble??! Me neither – it’s been too long.)
Light Blueberry Cheesecake
Serves about 8
Adapted from Tyler Florence’s Best Cheesecake recipe
Prep time: 30 mins. Start to finish: About 6 hours
For the crust:
- 2.5 cups gluten-free pretzels, finely ground (pulse in the food processor or go to town on them in a Ziploc bag)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake filling:
- 1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
- 3 large, farm-fresh eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt, plain or vanilla, 2% fat or higher
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 dash vanilla extract
The blueberry lemon topping:
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Prepare the crust:
In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Pour the crumbs into the pan and press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
Prepare the filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add yogurt, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not over beaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and give it a little shake to smooth the top.
Many cheesecake recipes will now direct you to wrap the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil and place in a large roasting pan, surrounded by boiling water. I’ve been burned by this technique before – water finding its way through the foil and turning my cake into a gooey mess. Instead, I skip the foil, place my springform cheesecake pan on the top shelf of the oven and a roasting pan filled with a few cups of boiled water to the bottom shelf. This way there is still added moisture in the heated oven but no direct exposure to my cheesecake.
Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours.
Prepare the blueberry topping:
In a small saucepan add all the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until the fruit begins to break down slightly. Leave to cool before spreading on cheesecake.
Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Spoon the warm blueberry lemon topping on to your cheesecake.
Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut.
Talli and her fella, Pat, grilled some delicious salmon burgers served with caper aioli and roasted sweet potatoes. A tough act to follow. So, to really sell blueberry’s brilliance, I added a dollop of blueberry whipped cream (2 Tbsp of the blueberry syrup whisked with 1 cup of heavy cream) to each slice before serving. Each mouthful offered the rich creaminess of the cheesecake rolled into the light, pillowy whipped cream, balanced perfectly with sweetened blueberries and sour lemon. It was gooooood!
Good food, great friends, a terrific way to spend the day. It’s hard to miss those trouble causing Friday nights when I’m enjoying Saturdays like these.
Stay tuned for more info on Talli’s motivational speaking gigs. Some exciting stuff coming up for my rockstar friend and Hot Pink Apron will be here to share it.
Did you know there is a Highbush Blueberry Council in the U.S.? Ya, me neither. Check out their website – everything you need to know about picking/eating/baking the blueberry.Add to favorites