Pistachio Butter Chocolate Cheesecake
I discovered one of Greece’s premiere pistachio farmers in Aegina, home to Greece’s most famous pistachios, and have been impressed ever since with the range of his pistachio products. One of my favorites, and the inspiration for this Greek recipe, is a sweet pistachio butter that has an intense nutty flavor like nothing I’ve ever tasted. I use it here to create this yummy Greek cheesecake and garnish it with both pistachios and another Greek island specialty, candied kumquats from Corfu. The result is totally over the top a dessert that is great on festive tables and makes the perfect end to a Thanksgiving feast. You can enjoy it of course, any day of the year! You can also make this with peanut butter or other nut butters. To find the pistachios, pistachio butter and kumquats, go to my online shop, here.
FOR THE BASE
- 15 chocolate cookies
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp. Greek sea salt
- 4 tbsp. butter melted
FOR THE CHEESECAKE
- 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. Greek sea salt
- 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 cup. creamy Aegina pistachio butter
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
- 6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate coarsely chopped
- 3/4 c. heavy cream
- 1/8 tsp. Greek sea salt
- Coarsely ground or crushed or chopped Aegina pistachios
- Candied kumquats preferably from Corfu
MAKE THE BASE:
Set rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350F/160C. Butter a 9" springform pan.
In a food processor or blender, grind chocolate cookies into fine crumbs. Add sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the butter, and work with your fingers or a fork to mix everything, ending up with a moist mealy mixture. Press into bottom and about a third of the way up the sides of springform pan. Freeze for 10 minutes.
Place pan on baking sheet and bake crust for 10 minutes. Set on rack to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325F/160C.
When the crust is cooled, wrap the bottom of the springform pan with two large pieces of aluminum foil. Boil water in a medium pot or kettle and have it ready. The cheesecake bakes in a water bath.
MAKE THE CHEESECAKE:
Place the cream cheese, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric stand mixture outfitted with the whisk attachment and beat until smooth, about 4 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides if needed. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and occasionally scraping bottom and sides of bowl. Add pistachio butter, heavy cream, and Greek yogurt and beat on low until completely smooth and streak-free, about 1 minute. Pour cheesecake batter into cooled crust and smooth the top with a spatula.
Place in a large roasting pan. Pour in enough boiling water to come up halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake cheesecake until top is just starting to brown and crack, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Turn off oven, crack the door open, and let cheesecake slowly cool in water bath for 1 hour.
Remove roasting pan from oven, then carefully lift springform pan out of water and remove foil. Set cheesecake on rack and let come to room temperature. Once completely cooled, loosely wrap the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:
When ready to serve, carefully remove sides of springform pan.
Place chocolate in a clean, dry bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm cream until just until it starts to come to a simmer. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let sit 10 minutes, then add the salt and whisk until smooth.
Pour ganache over cheesecake, spreading it evenly and allowing some to drip down sides of cake. Garnish with candied kumquats and crushed pistachios.