This is that time of year where I get antsy about food. Its spring-time–the birds are chirping, the sun is out, and it feels like summer is just around the corner. So where’s the spring-time produce?! I know its too soon for the kinds of things I’m craving, and this is exactly why its always a good idea to preserve a bit of the season–to abate such cravings until nature has a chance to catch up. So today’s dessert: a sweet, creamy, cardamom perfumed cheesecake, topped with cardamom-scented peach preserves.
I’ll be honest: I’d forgotten about these peach preserves. They were buried in the back of my pantry, but when I found them, I needed to finally dig in (peach season is one of the things I’m anxiously awaiting, after all). They were simple to make (many months ago), and I remember from sampling a bit how wonderful they tasted–sweet, peaches at their peak, finished with that je ne sais quoi you get from cardamom–a certain sweet, spicy, almost menthol-like waft of intrigue (trying to describe cardamom always trips me up given how unique a flavor it is). So to all the other peach lovers out there: put making cardamom peach preserves on your to-do list for the coming months. You’ll thank me.
I had two immediate ideas for a dessert to use as a vehicle for eating the peach preserves: ice cream or cheesecake (oh, and third idea: waffles for breakfast). Given that one of the last ice creams I made was peach flavored, cheesecake seemed like the winner. I rather closely followed a cheesecake recipe I’d used in the past as a base, but this time, infused the cream with a good bit of green cardamom for an hour so that you’d get cardamom from both the cake and the preserves, each offering a slightly different yet cohesive flavor profile. I also worked a pinch of saffron in there for good measure, but in all honesty, that didn’t add much…and even if it did, the cardamom and peaches were more than enough to satisfy.
- 1 Graham cracker crust
- 24 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 20 green cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- pinch saffron
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- cardamom peach preserves (for topping)
(Note, if you want step-by-step photos, this very closely follows a previous cheesecake recipe I posted. I was in a rush on this one.)
First prepare your graham cracker crust and bake it blind at 325°F for 15 minutes.
Pour the heavy cream in a pot. Smash the cardamom pods (not to powder, just enough to crack them and break them into sizable chunks). Toss this (and the crumbled saffron, if using) into the cream. Add the ground cardamom as well, scald the mixture (as in heat just short of boiling), turn off the heat, and let this sit covered for an hour.
Let the cream cheese come to room temperature for about an hour (perfect timing while you wait on the cardamom cream). Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until lighter in texture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between each addition.
Finally, add the cream (pour it through a strainer so you can discard the cardamom pieces), lemon juice, and vanilla, beating them all in. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat some more. The batter should be silky smooth and reasonably thick.
Finally, pour the cheesecake batter into the graham cracker crust. Give the pan a tap in case there’s any air bubbles trapped in there (you don’t want them).
Now, set a pan (larger than your cheesecake pan) in the oven (which is at 350°F) and fill it with water. You want to bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 45-55 minutes (you want the center to have some jiggle to it, still). The water bath tempers the heat of the oven, helping to prevent your cheesecake from cracking (a purely aesthetic thing, if you’re wondering). Once time is up, kill the heat, but leave the cheesecake in the oven for an hour more before you remove it and let it cool down on the countertop. Once cooled down, let it sit in the fridge overnight.
Finally, its time for you to enjoy the fruit of your labors. Grab yourself a slice, scoop on a good bit of the peach preserves (however much is up to you), and enjoy!