Pear and Ginger Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Sauce

This cheesecake is filled with the delightfully fragrant fall flavors of pear and ginger

By Deborah Misik

Bosc, Red Bartlett, D ’Anjou, Forelle, Comice and Sekel are just a few of the thousand varieties of pears. Most of the pears in the United States are grown in California, Washington and Oregon, and when properly ripe, have a sweet taste with a grainy texture. Perfectly ripened pears have a good fragrance and yield to gentle pressure at the stem end. Asian pears, also known as Chinese pears or apple pears, are of a different variety than common pears. Pears have a universal flavor that is compatible with many other flavor combinations.

This cheesecake is filled with the delightfully fragrant fall flavors of pear and ginger. The salted caramel sauce is also laced with the sharp bright notes of fresh grated ginger and melds nicely with the pillowy texture of this cake. The almond meal in the crust gives great flavor with a fine nutty texture, and the turbinado sugar adds a subtle molasses flavor.

Vegan and gluten-free

Crust:

• 2 cups almond meal

• 3 Tbsp. refined coconut oil, melted

• 3 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400 °F. In a large bowl, crumble the almond meal, coconut oil and sugar together until well combined. Stir well using a wooden spoon or large wooden fork until the mixture begins to clump together. Transfer to an 8-inch spring form pan and press the crust against the bottom and up the sides of the pan to form a thin crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool briefly.

Filling:

• 3 pears, peeled and chopped

• 2 Tbsp. turbinado or brown sugar

• Dash of sea salt

• 1 (12.3 oz.) package extra firm silken tofu

• 2 (8 oz. each) tubs vegan cream cheese

• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

• 5 Tbsp. sorghum flour

• 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. organic sugar

• 1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

• 1/2 tsp. sea salt

• 1 cup drained, pressed and crumbled extra firm tofu

In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the pears, turbinado sugar and dash of salt until broken down and thickened, about 7 minutes. Allow to briefly cool and then transfer to a food processor along with the rest of the filling ingredients, except for the crumbled extra firm tofu. Puree until very smooth, at least 6 minutes. Add in crumbled tofu and pulse a few times until fairly smooth, but not completely pureed.

Spread filling into the prepared pie pan and bake in oven preheated to 400 °F for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 250 °F without removing the cheesecake from the oven and bake another 70 minutes. Turn oven off and let cheesecake remain in the oven for 2 more hours. Chill in the refrigerator while you make the caramel topping.

Caramel Sauce:

• 1 1/4 cup turbinado sugar

• 2/3 cup coconut milk

• 1 Tbsp. refined coconut oil or margarine

• 2 dashes salt

In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the turbinado sugar, coconut milk, coconut oil and salt and bring to a boil, stirring often. Let boil, continuing to stir occasionally for about 6 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Let cool in the pan and then pour on top of cheesecake. Chill at least 4 hours before serving.

For best storage results, I recommend chilling overnight the drizzle and the cheesecake separately until serving.

Chef Deborah Misik is the Instructional Coordinator of Baking and Pastry at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. She is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef and a Certified Culinary Educator through the American Culinary Federation. For more information about the Culinary Institute of Montana at FVCC, visit www.culinaryinstituteofmt.com.

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