I always take inspiration from the restaurants where I dine. It's fascinating to see what chefs create especially when it comes to dessert. Last summer I had the opportunity of visiting a number of D.C. Restaurants thanks to Destination DC. As soon as I visited Birch & Barley, run by husband and wife team Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac, I was taken by the great food, but even more so by the baked goods and desserts, expertly created by pastry chef MacIsaac. A goat cheese cheesecake particularly stood out.
Until then I had never thought that goat cheese could even be turned into a dessert, but I was wrong. It was there that I had an amazing goat cheese cheesecake with balsamic syrup and cherry sorbet. It was tangy, just slightly sweet, refreshing, and palate-cleansing—all things I look for in dessert. I'm not much of an "only chocolate is dessert" kind of guy, so I always appreciate something different and unique. I knew then at that moment that I'd make my version of the recipe and here it is.
These mini cheesecakes are drizzled with balsamic syrup and served with my sour cherry sorbet. A simple and classic graham cracker crust serves as the base on which the mini cakes bake. The whole recipe comes together quickly, since the mini size bakes much faster than a large cheesecake. All that needs time is the cooling. This recipe is perfect for a party since the cheesecakes are just about two-bite sized. And if you don't like goat's cheese, no problem, substitute fromage blanc or cream cheese.
Goat Cheese Cheesecakes with Balsamic Syrup and Sour Cherry Sorbet
for the graham cracker crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
for the filling:
12 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Balsamic Syrup, recipe follows
Sour Cherry Sorbet
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Crumbs should clump together like wet sand when squeezed. Fill each mold of a 12-capacity mini muffin tin with removable bottoms with 1 tablespoon crumbs. Tamp using a small bottle or your fingers. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together cheese and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Puree until incorporated, scraping down sides. Divide filling among cheesecake molds, filling three-quarters full. Bake until filling is puffed, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely. Chill for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, run a thin knife around edges and use removable bottom to assist in removal. Serve drizzled over with balsamic syrup and a spoonful of sour cherry sorbet. Yield: 12 servings.
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until reduced to about 1/3 cup. A wooden spoon should leave a trail in the bottom of the pan. Let cool before using.