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From Flavors of the Sun: Pistachio Cheesecake with Kataifi Crust

From Flavors of the Sun: Pistachio Cheesecake with Kataifi Crust

Traditional Brooklyn-style cheesecake is indulgent but so heavy and rich. Blending the cream cheese filling with labneh, a super-thick yogurt product, lightens the batter and gives it a nice tang without losing any of that creamy decadence. The pistachio-studded kataifi crust bakes up extra crisp, almost like shredded wheat but a lot more buttery and delicious. You’ll find kataifi dough in the freezer case next to the phyllo. One of the best things about this cheesecake is how forgiving it is. It has only 10 ingredients and if it cracks a little, you can just cover it up with honey pistachios! 

This recipe is in the Nutty chapter of Flavors of the Sun. The book is divided into five chapters: Bright, Savory, Spiced, Nutty, and Sweet so you can shortcut to exactly what you're craving. You can pre-order your copy now from wherever books are sold.

Pistachio Cheesecake with Kataifi Crust

1 cup [220 g] (2 sticks) unsalted butter 
8 oz [225 g] kataifi dough
3 1/2 cups [490 g] raw shelled pistachios
7 Tbsp [150 g] honey
1 lb [455 g] labneh
1 lb [455 g] cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup [200 g] sugar
1 Tbsp orange blossom water
4 eggs
2 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 375°F [190°C]. Coat a 10 in [25 cm] springform pan with cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a glass measuring cup or small saucepan and set aside to cool slightly. Place the kataifi in a bowl and fluff with your fingers to separate the shreds. Chop 1 cup [140 g] of the pistachios and add to the bowl. Drizzle the butter over the mixture, leaving any white solids behind, and toss to combine thoroughly.

Press the crust mixture into the springform pan, making a compact layer on the bottom and about ¼ in [6 mm] up the sides. Drizzle with 3 Tbsp of the honey. Bake the crust until crisp and well browned, 30 to 40 minutes. Let the crust cool a bit on a wire rack and lower the oven heat to 325°F [160°C].

While the crust is baking, spread the remaining 2½ cups [350 g] of pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the same oven, shaking the pan once or twice, until they are golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Combine the labneh and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Beat in the sugar and orange blossom water, then add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently with a rubber spatula to prevent lumps. Add 1½ cups [210 g] of the roasted pistachios and mix by hand with the spatula until well combined.

Pour the filling into the baked crust, level the top, and bake for 1 hour or until the filling is firm and just beginning to brown at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan.

To serve, release and remove the sides of the springform pan and transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate. Mix the remaining cup [140 g] of toasted pistachios with the remaining 4 Tbsp [85 g] of honey and spoon the mixture onto the cake. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Photo by Kristin Teig

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