Baked Pistachio Cheesecake – 開心果芝士蛋糕

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Pistachios would make a green coloured cake, yes?

YES! This makes me so excited!

As usual, I did some online search and after about 1000 mouse clicks, I shortlisted 4 recipes and decided to go with the one that requires lesser hard to find items such as pistachio pudding mix and semi-skimmed curd that some other recipes needed. Some recipes also asked for ingredients like heavy cream or white chocolate chips which aren’t my favourite options for “healthier” ingredients so they’re striked off my list too. There were also non-baked or raw pistachio cheesecakes recipes but I’ve always leaned towards the baked ones because they taste more authentic like cake. Besides, cooking also requires some technique rather than simply mixing and freezing up a concoction.

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subtle pistachio flavor

The original recipe was written in Italian but thankfully, google translate sorted it out. The writer wrote that this cheesecake has a very special and unique taste, and I agree that it did have a nice cheesecake texture – rich and smooth, though the pistachio flavor was a little outshined by its cheese counterpart, likely because I had substituted the ricotta cheese with cream cheese. Perhaps if I were to replaced the ricotta cheese, which have a lighter taste to it, again, I’d double the pistachio paste to bring out more flavor. Or perhaps I’d stick to the original use of ricotta – though ricotta cheese is pretty pricey here (S$10.90, 250g). Guessed I made it less Italian by doing the substitution too…

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Adapted from Italian recipe Ricette della nonna 

Ingredients (For an 8in springform round pan):
200g Digestive biscuits (I used Gullón‘s Digestive)
80g unsalted butter, melted
350g Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
350g ricotta (I omitted ricotta and used another 350g cream cheese)
80g castor sugar
70g pistachio paste
2 eggs
40g cornstarch

Pistachio Paste (Yields about 180g):
100g raw pistachios
25g raw almonds
50g sugar
15g water
a few drops of bitter almonds extract (I used 1/4 tsp almond essence)

Directions for Pistachio Paste:

  1. Blanch almonds in boiling water for 1 minute and transfer them into a bowl of cold water. Then, blanch pistachios for 3 minutes in the same pot of boiling water and also transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Remove the shriveled outer skin of the nuts.
  2. Drain the almonds and pistachios and bake in the oven at 150C for about 15 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Dissolve sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, When syrup starts to bubble slightly at the edges, pour in pistachios and stir until well combined. Keep stirring till most of the syrup is evaporated. Let cool.
  4. In a food processor, add in pistachios, almonds and blend till fine.
  5. While blending, add in almond extract, then add water a little at a time until a thick homogeneous paste is formed.
  6. Add a few drops of green food colouring if a more vibrant green is desired. (I omitted this.)
  7. Wrap pistachio paste with shrink wrap and store in the refrigerator.
boiled and peeled nuts
boiled and peeled nuts
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finished pistachio paste

Directions for Cheesecake:

  1. Pre-heat oven at 160C.
  2. To prepare cheesecake base, crush biscuits into fine crumbs, add melted butter and mix well in a bowl using a fork.
  3. Press down biscuit mixture firmly onto the base of an 8in springform round pan and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. To prepare cheesecake filling, using a food processor, blend cream cheese till smooth. Then, add in sugar. Next, add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add in cornstarch and pistachio paste in small pieces and mix until incorporated. (At this point, the pistachio paste will still appear as lumps in the mixture.)
  5. Remove mixture from blender. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve while concentrating on pressing the pistachio paste through the sieve. Stir well to mix the paste uniformly through the batter.
  6. Pour mixture into the springform pan and drop the pan a few times on the countertop.
  7. Bake for about 75 minutes using water-bath method. at 160 degrees for about 75 minutes. (I used steam-bath method by placing the springform pan (wrapped with aluminium foil) on a rack above a tray of boiling water. I typically use this method when using springform pans to eradicate risks of water seepage into the cake.) 
  8. Remove from oven, let cool, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.

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3 thoughts on “Baked Pistachio Cheesecake – 開心果芝士蛋糕

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