- M.F.K. Fisher born (1908)
Parmesan Cheesecake with Dates and Almonds
For the cheesecake
- 1 Cup heavy cream
- One 3- to 4-inch piece Parmesan cheese rind
- 20 Biscoff cookies or 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs plus 3/4 cup finely crushed gingersnaps
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 Cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1/3 Cup sugar
- 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
For the topping
- 1/2 Cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons molasses
- 6 pitted Medjool dates, chopped finely
- 1/3 Cup marcona almonds or roasted whole almonds, chopped
- Grated Parmesan, for garnish
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There's classic New York-style cheesecake, there's ricotta cheesecake, and now, there's Parmesan cheesecake. Why not, after all? Medjool dates and marcona almonds form the topping for this decadent and exotic cheesecake that's just too good to pass up.
For the cheesecake
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
Put the cream and Parmesan rind into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until just beginning to simmer. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, at least 15 minutes.
If using the cookies, put them in a food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl (or put the graham cracker and gingersnap crumbs in the bowl) and add the butter. Stir well until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press them into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
Bake the crust until set and beginning to brown, 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. (Leave the oven on.)
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-low speed until softened. Add the grated Parmesan and sugar, increase the speed to medium, and beat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low, add the yolks one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. Remove the Parmesan rind from the cream and add the cream to the cream cheese mixture, along with the vanilla extract, and mix until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary.
Pour the batter into the cooled crust and tap the sides of the pan several times to release any air bubbles. Bake until the edges of the filling are set but the center is still slightly jiggly, for 1 hour, 20 minutes.
For the topping
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir the sour cream and molasses together until combined. Mix the dates and almonds together in a small bowl. They will be very sticky and clump together.
Remove the baked cheesecake from the oven and, with your fingers, break apart the date-nut mixture and gently sprinkle it evenly over the surface of the cheesecake. Spoon the sour cream mixture evenly over the dates and nuts, leaving a ½-inch border around the edges.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Turn off the oven, use a wooden spoon handle to prop the door open slightly, and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool for 1 hour.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to 5 days.
When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove the springform ring and, using a knife dipped in warm water and wiped dry before each cut, slice the cake. Serve with Parmesan sprinkled on top.