Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bruleed Vin Santo Cheesecake Squares

Bruleed Vin Santo Cheesecake
Bruleed Vin Santo Cheesecake
I can't remember exactly how I came up with this recipe, all I know is that it was all I could think about around 3 AM the other night. One of my favorite Tuscan culinary traditions is dipping biscotti into vin santo, their golden dessert wine which translates to "holy wine" or "wine of the saints". I was SOOOO excited when I got the idea of combining the two flavors in a cheesecake. I have a thing for creme brulee, so I added that topping, but you could of course leave it off. I have a small kitchen torch for recipes like this and I think it's so fun to melt the sugar with it. I feel like I'm some kind of welder or something ;) I got mine at Williams-Sonoma for $30 and think it was worth the investment. 
The MOST challenging part of this recipe was actually finding the vin santo. First I went to Vons by my house, and wasn't very surprised when no one in the store had any idea what I was talking about. Next I called Trader Joes, and after spelling "vin santo" three times they told me that they didn't have it either. I thought for sure Gelson's would have it since I had bought a great limoncello there before, but again, the manager looked at me like I was speaking Japenese. So, finally I came to my senses and went to an Italian specialty market. They did not sell it by the bottle, so I ordered two glasses and secretly poured them into a to-go cup. The lesson here is to to make the trip to your Italian grocery. 
Oh and I really hate that photo above :( The brulee top is much shinier, as you can see below. 
Kinda sorta adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis' Limoncello Cheesecake Squares (which I have also made and think are fantastic) 
  • 8 ounces purchased biscotti
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (12-ounce) container ricotta, drained, at room temperature
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vin santo wine
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • sugar for brulee top


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.

Blend the ricotta in a clean food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Blend in the vin santo and vanilla. Add the eggs 1 at a time, and pulse just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the baking pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour (the cake will become firm when it is cold).

Transfer the cake to a rack; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Cut the cake into squares. Sprinkle a layer of sugar over the top of the cheesecake squares. Torch the sugar until brown and bubbly, or put squares onto a cookie sheet and broil. Watch very closely under broiler, it will only take a few seconds. 



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