I was recently cleaning out my recipe baskets, which are (were) full of magazines, printed recipes, and who knows what else, when I found a stack of old Food & Wine Magazines. It was like Christmas going through them and finding all the pages marked with recipes that I never made. I needed a dessert for dinner and found something unique and new: Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Parfaits. It tastes like cheesecake but in the form of custard. Very rich, very sweet, but fresh and light at the same time.
I think my custard was a little runnier than it was supposed to be, just from comparing the picture in the magazine, but it was still very tasty. I made the shortbread and compote the day before, and the custard the day of dinner.
The shortbread is good all by itself, and very easy to make. The cornmeal adds a nice crunch and slightly salty taste. The custard was a little more complicated, as custards usually are, but never fear, they are still doable. When tempering the eggs, add all the milk very slowly. And, make sure you stir until hot because corn starch needs heat to be activated. You will see it suddenly start to thicken and that is what you want. If you take it off the heat too soon, it will not thicken as it cools.
It’s a great dessert for a dinner party because all the components can be made in advance, making your job as a host easy. They will think you slaved for days in the kitchen, just for them. And there’s no reason to tell them otherwise.
From Food & Wine Magazine, contributed by Maggie Leung
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the cornmeal and salt. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the butter with the confectioners’ sugar at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until the dough just comes together. Pat the shortbread dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the chilled shortbread dough and roll it out between 2 sheets of parchment paper to an 8-inch round (1/2 inch thick). Cut the dough into 1/2-inch-wide strips and transfer the strips to the baking sheets; leave 1 inch between each strip. Refrigerate the dough strips for 30 minutes, until chilled.
- Bake the shortbread for about 20 minutes, until golden; rotate the pans halfway through for even baking. While the warm shortbread strips are still on the baking sheet, cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Let cool, about 30 minutes.
- 2 cups blueberries (12 ounces)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of the blueberries with the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderate heat until the blueberries break down, about 5 minutes. Scrape the blueberry sauce into a blender, add the lemon juice and puree until smooth. Scrape the blueberry sauce into a bowl and fold in the remaining 1 cup of whole blueberries. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus extra strips for garnish
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
- In a medium saucepan, bring 3/4 cup of the milk to a boil with 3 tablespoons of the sugar; remove from the heat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg yolks, then pour the mixture into the saucepan and whisk constantly over moderate heat until thickened, about 2 minutes. (This took longer for me, closer to 5 minutes). To get a smoother custard, strain at this point.
- Over low heat, whisk in the cream cheese, lemon juice, grated lemon zest and vanilla extract until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the cheesecake custard into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
- In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream to medium peaks. (I added Grand Marnier) Fold the whipped cream into the chilled cheesecake custard until no streaks remain. Spoon the shortbread cubes and custard into bowls. Drizzle with the blueberry compote, garnish with the lemon zest strips and serve.