Good evening everyone! Let me just start by saying a big THANKS to Denise, Lazaro and Nancy for choosing my recipe in the "Quickies" challenge. It is really an honor since ALL of the bloggers are such talented cooks. Thanks again!
Without a doubt, one of the biggest surprises I've had in the kitchen in a long time was finding out that feta cheese actually tastes GOOD as a dessert. Mind you, I love me some feta. In fact, were it not for feta cheese and Greek yogurt I'd be a stalwart vegan but alas...I go weak in the knees for a hunk of cheese that smells vaguely like sweat socks. However, I am fairly certain that the biblical reference of "manna from Heaven" was in reference to feta cheese!
I did not distinguish the type of feta that I used in the brownie recipe...sorry! Reading Biren's post (Roti n Rice) about the difference between Bulgarian and Greek feta reminded me that some people do not really know there is a distinction. Greek feta, which is my personal preference is sharp, salty, crumbly and drier than the milder, creamier Bulgarian. Feta can be made from cow, goat or sheep's milk. French feta is often made from sheep's milk, Bulgarian from goat or a combo. Greek is most commonly cow's milk (whether domestic or imported) however, I have gotten goat milk Greek style feta in specialty markets. Gee...can anyone tell that I'm obsessed with feta cheese?
The brownies incedentally were made with Greek feta as was the "bonus recipe" that came about because I had left over ingredients from the contest recipes.
I was more ambivalent about the Individual Feta Cheesecakes because the feta would feature so prominently (being that there was not two pounds of excellent quality chocolate sitting underneath it). The process for making the batter was identical to what went on top of the brownies but I've jazzed the cheesecakes up with a pecan crust and a drizzle of ginger infused agave nectar. See what you think.......
Individual Feta Cheesecakes with Ginger Infused Agave Syrup
- 6 ounces room temperature cream cheese
- 3 ounces feta cheese
- 2 large organic eggs
- 3/4 cup *Florida Crystals organic cane sugar plus extra sugar for ramekins
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons organic all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup blue agave nectar
- 1/2 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger
- fruit of choice to garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter the bottoms and sides of 4 (six ounce) ramekins. Place about a teaspoon of coarse natural sugar crystals in each and twirl until sugar coats the insides. Divide the chopped pecans evenly between the four ramekins. Gently shake to flatten the nuts into an even layer.
- Place all remaining ingredients except agave and ginger in blender. Blend until thick and smooth. Optional add ins could be added AFTER blending (example: zest, mini chocolate chips, or whatever you might normally add into a cheesecake). Divide mixture evenly between the four ramekins. Place ramekins in a 4 quart glass casserole dish and set on the middle shelf in oven. Carefully pour hot water into casserole dish to a depth of 1- 1/2 inches or about half the depth of ramekins. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until set. They will be mostly firm but you may see a very small amount of "giggle" near the center which is fine.
- Remove cheesecakes from water bath and cool in wire rack. I recommend chilling for several hours before unmoulding. When ready to unmold, carefully dip the dish into a bowl of hot water for a few seconds. Run a butter knife around the edges to loosen. Invert on serving dish.
- Prepare Gingered Agave Syrup: Pour agave nectar into a small sauce pan. Slice ginger and add to syrup. Heat syrup over low heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and strain out ginger. Chill syrup until ready to serve. Syrup may be made while cheesecakes are cooling or ahead of time. Decorate with fruits of choice and drizzle with ginger infused agave syrup.
Makes four servings and they are fantastic!
Dense, sharp and incredibly RICH!
(c) copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet