Tarragon cheesecake

As I’ve mentioned on a previous occasion, this summer we’ve been really lucky with tarragon. It’s been growing like crazy and I’ve been trying to use it a lot in my cooking (see my attempts here, here, here and here. I’ve grown particularly fond of pairing it with tomato dishes; it was like a whole new world of flavors opened up for me there. Have I changed my mind about basil+tomato being the perfect couple? Not at all. But from now on I’ll be adding also a pinch of tarragon to it. 😉

I’ve been in the baking mood this weekend, and having a beautiful bunch of tarragon in the fridge it seemed like a good idea to bake something with it. I decided for a cheesecake because I hadn’t made one for quite a while already. If you’re a fan of tarragon’s sweet flavor, you will probably fall in love with this cake! Its preparation is simplicity itself.

Ingredients for a 28cm cake pan:
The pastry:
200g a-p flour (I use white spelt flour, type 630)
100g cold butter, diced
1 egg (L). lightly beaten
a pinch salt
3 Tbsp (blond) cane sugar
The filling:
500g quark/cottage cheese, or ricotta (drained)
100g sour cream (creme fraiche)
100g whipping cream (35%)
4 egg yolks
150g (blond) cane sugar
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
40g fresh tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped
+ butter for the pan

1. Prepare the pastry: sift the flour into a big bowl, add the sugar and salt. Mix. Add the diced butter and mix with a pastry cutter until obtaining crumbs. Now add the beaten egg and use your hands to kneed the crumbs into a dough. Do not overkneed, you just need the pastry to come together into a ball. Wrap it into a cling film and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven at 200ºC and butter the cake pan. In a mixing bowl, combine the (drained) cheese with sour cream, whipping cream, egg yolks, cane sugar and vanilla seeds. Mix all together with a blender or hand held mixer. Then add the chopped tarragon leaves and stir the mixture with a spoon.
3. Roll out the pastry dough into a round shape (between two sheets of cling film OR on a floured kitchen countertop – I find the former works for me better than the latter). Line the cake pan with the dough and trim the excess dough around the edges, if needed. Prick the dough with a fork and blind bake for about 15 minutes.
4. Pour the tarragon cheese filling into the prebaked pastry shell and bake until golden brown (for 20-30 minutes – check regularly so that it doesn’t overbake). Turn off the oven and allow the cake to sit in the oven for some 10 minutes before transfering it to the kitchen rack. Allow to cool completely. The filling will set once cooled. Slice the cake and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee. Store it in the fridge, covered. It keeps well for a few days.

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