Are you looking for a flawless dinner party dessert – something that brings wide eyes and open mouths to the faces of your friends and family? Then look no further than Ottolenghi’s Honey and Yogurt Cheesecake. It’s a simple make-ahead sweet that’s not too sweet.
I didn’t grow up loving cheesecake. I blame my grade-school cafeteria. The cheesecakes from the lunch-line were assembled on a large sheet pan and cut into gelatinous little squares that were topped with a single maraschino cherry. It was pathetically thin – no thicker than my child-sized thumbnail. And it was presented on a soggy base. No – not soggy – wet. What’s worse, and hard to fathom even now, the cheesecake of my youth was painfully sweet, even to my ten-year-old palate. I often ate the cherry but tossed the cake.
As a result I haven’t made a lot of cheesecakes during my years in the kitchen.
Sure there was the beautifully presented Chocolate-Cherry Cheesecake which remains one of my most visited posts all these years later. But truthfully, it’s a lot of work. A layer of ganache. A layer of cheese. An artful cherry swirl. Oh, and a bain-marie. It was spectacular but I’ve never made it again.
I also had artistic success with Dave Beran’s Burnt Basque Cheesecake. It was frightfully delicious. I say frightfully because I honestly feared I’d set the house on fire when I baked that cheesecake. I’m glad I made it, but the next time I get a hankering for burnt cheesecake I’ll fly to Spain.
Which brings me to Ottolenghi’s Honey and Yogurt Cheesecake. It’s so simple a child could make it. The bain-marie is banned, and there are no dangerous peek-a-boo dances with your oven. This Honey and Yogurt Cheesecake finishes in the fridge where it will keep up to two days.
Even though the silky refrigerator cake is typically easier to make than its oven-baked brethren, sometimes it’s hard to achieve the perfect combination of a not-too-sweet filling sitting on a satisfyingly crunchy base. Ottolenghi’s Honey and Yogurt Cheesecake beats back this dilemma beautifully. He adds well-drained yogurt to the cream cheese. It adds serious tang. Enough to balance the sweetness. Surprisingly, despite its hours in the refrigerator, the base stays crisp. I think it’s the oat cookies. They hold their crunch longer than graham crackers or shortbread. GREG