Cardamom tonka bean cheesecake with caramelised pears
This is a sad, sad story about letting my friends down. One weekend, we had both days booked with party and with harvesting rowanberries and turning them into jam. Two separate days. For the first party, we all made something and since I had plenty of small pears from the countryside, I decided to make cardamom tonka bean paste with caramel. Simple. I did, and it turned out to be fantastic (this recipe by the way :)). We all ate it, but I did not put the pic on Instagram that day. I did that the next morning – the day I had to go to my friend’s house to pick berries and make jam with them. All of that was followed by dinner at their place. At those kind of gatherings, I always make a cake or some dessert, but few of them are big dessert fans, so for once I decided I would not. And only sitting at the table did I realize that they had hoped that the cake from that morning’s picture was for them. They said they would always remind me of that Sunday. That sunny and great, great Sunday WITHOUT a cake. Sorry Ieva, Krista, Sash and Martins (although you don't eat cakes anyway). I will make this one day – soon.
150 g sable cookies mixed with pretzels
100 g walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds
90 g butter, melted
900 g cream cheese, room temp
30 g cornstarch
200 g light brown sugar
4 eggs, room temp
320 g sour cream
180 ml whipping cream (35%)
1/3 tonka bean, grated
6 cardamom pod seeds, crushed into powder
pinch of salt
25 small pears, peeled
50 ml rum
400 g demerara sugar
1 vanilla pod, cut in lengthways
pinch of sea salt
10 ml orange blossom water
1 star anise
310 g white sugar
90 ml water
300 ml whipping cream (35%)
55 g cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tonka bean, grated
fleur de sel to taste
Heat the oven to 200° from the top and bottom. Place the rack one level below centre. Line the bottom of a 23 cm diameter cake pan with parchment paper.
Prepare the base. Butter the sides of the pan. Process the cookies so they are quite fine and place in a bowl. Process the nuts into medium size crumbs and add to the cookie crumbs. Add the butter and mix. Press the mixture unto the bottom and sides of the pan, making it about 5mm thick. Make sure the corner is not too thick. Put in the oven for 15 minutes and then remove.
Lower the oven temperature to 150°.
Prepare the filling. In a mixing bowl, place 1/3 of the cream cheese, about 50 g sugar, and cornstarch. Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment, but if you don’t have one, then whisk for about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides, until the mixture is creamy. Continuing beating, gradually add 200 g cream cheese, incorporating each addition well. When all the cream cheese has been added, add the remaining sugar in three parts. Then, while the mixer is running, add tonka bean seeds, cardamom, and salt. Slowly mix everything in, scraping down the sides. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating each one in well and scraping down the sides. While the mixer is on low speed, add both creams to the cream cheese mixture. Mix everything well on low speed, just until fully incorporated.
Pour the filling into the pan and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature and cover with cling film and refrigerate for 12 hours.
In the meantime, poach the pears. In a large saucepan place the pears with stalks up. Add rum, vanilla,sugar, anise, orange blossom water, and salt. Add water so that it covers the pears. Cover the pears, placing baking paper directly on them (with a small hole cut in the center). Simmer the pears gently until cooked through, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the pears. Test them with knife – insert and if the knife slides in easily, then they are ready. Remove from heat and let the pears cool in their liquid for 30 minutes.*
Make the caramel sauce. Pour the sugar into a pot, add water, and heat on a low heat. Do not mix, but move the pot around in a circle every now and then. When the sugar has melted and has begun to bubble, turn up the heat to medium and simmer until the caramel has turned brown. Then turn the heat to high and boil until it is the colour of amber. Remove from the heat, add the cream (be careful – it will splatter!) and stir until the caramel sauce is uniform. Add the butter, vanilla, salt, and put on a low heat and simmer, stirring all the time, until the butter has melted. Transfer to a serving dish and cool.
Take the cake out of the fridge. Spoon thin layer of sour cream. Arrange pears and pour over the caramel.
* IF YOU WISH you can make caramel sauce out of this liquid too. Take the pears out of the liquid, put the kettle on highest heat, add remaining sugar and boil until it gets syrupy and golden (and reduces almost to 1/4 of the syrup you had in the beginning). Add 150 g of whipping cream and mix in. Take off the heat and pour into a bowl to cool it down.