Friday, December 05, 2008

Seventeenth Century Rosewater Cheese Tart

While I wasn't blown-away by this tart, the boys were. Within two days, they'd demolished every last bite, lousy crust and all. In fact, Danny was waking up at five AM asking for dessert. I figured this probably tells you more about the recipe than my impressions. It is a very rich dessert, but if you like dense cheesecake, and like it to smell like a French whorehouse (not that I'd know anything about that) this might just be your dessert. Seriously, they never go through a cake like this.

The recipe comes from a supermarket book devoted to cheesecakes from 1985. It claims to contain 100 tested recipes, but it says nothing of editing. Somehow, a number of recipes in the book neglect to mention what temperature the cakes are to be baked at stating only "Bake in a preheated oven." Thanks, that's helpful.

The recipe for shortcrust was terrible. terrible. I won't reprint it here and instead suggest you use one that you prefer. If you've never made one before, start with the recipe in Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, as it is basic and simple to prepare.

I find it slightly amusing that there is a disclaimer at the front of the book that reads:

The information contained in this book is true and complete to the best of our knowledge (LIARS). All recommendations are made without any guarantees on the part of (publishers of bad cheesecake books) (BECAUSE THE RECIPES ARE INCOMPLETE). The author and publisher disclaim all liability in connection with the use of this information (BECAUSE THE SHORT CRUST RECIPE IS ASS!).

Luckily, I know how to bake and was able to salvage it (though that short crust disaster really took away from it). I did have to do a bit of interpretation when it came to the ingredients, and I will try to post other baking suggestions that were overlooked in the original (like, it will leak all over your oven so bake the thing on a sheet (I always do with springform pans, but not everyone would know to do that. It seems sort of incompetent not to mention it).

So here is the recipe, adapted (practically re-written) from the crappy supermarket cheese cake book. I'm not going to use this book again, and to spare the next victim from purchasing it at the thrift shop, I'm tossing it out. A quick look at the other recipes revealed similar flaws and omissions.

On the positive side, the cake is unusual enough to serve as a special holiday treat and rosewater baking makes your kitchen smell nice.

You Will Need:

1 shortcrust pastry, blind baked in an 8 inch springform pan

1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sherry
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons rose water
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup currants

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

When shortcrust is cooled, make filling. In a small pan over low heat, scaled the whipping cream and sherry. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, rose water, spices and salt until blended. Beat in the cream cheese. Note-at this point the cheese may break up funny like it is curdling-that's ok and it will not harm the cake. Slowly add the whipping cream/sherry in a stream while still beating the mixture. Beat until reasonably smooth (you won't get it completely.

At this point the recipe suggests stirring in the currants, but they are only going to drop to the bottom anyway, so wait until you pour the batter and then sprinkle them on top evenly (they will sink in).

Bake on a sheet, for about 1 hour or until a tester off centre comes out clean. You should probably keep an eye on it after 40 minutes. Mine took exactly 55 minutes.

I decorated mine seasonally with pitted dates, candied cherries and sultanas. Cool in pan on a rack completely. Chill well before serving. I made this last night for today and once it was cooled I placed it on the plate and inverted a large bowl over it as a cover. This seemed to work better than waxed paper. I decorated it the next day.

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