wild grape blue cheesecake

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wild grape blue cheesecakeWild grapes (Vitis vinifera) grow throughout the valley. Their fame lies in their hardy resistance to phylloxera, the vine-destroying pest that wrought havoc on European vines in the late nineteenth century and those in the valley at the end of the twentieth century. In this dish, we use the tannic wild grapes to offset the creaminess of an Italian blue cheese and pay homage to my preferred dessert: the humble cheesecake.

  • Yield: 10 Servings


  • 75 grams | ⅓ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 150 grams | 1 ¼ cups pastry flour
  • 150 grams | 1 ⅓ cups chopped pecans
  • 7 grams | 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 540 grams | 1 pound, 3 ounces blu del Moncenisio cheese
  • 250 grams | about 1 cup cream cheese
  • 850 grams | 3 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 35 grams | ¾ teaspoon iota carrageenan
  • 12 .5 grams | 5 sheets silver gelatin, bloomed in ice water and wrung
  • gently of excess water
  • 500 grams | about 1 pound wild grapes
  • 50 grams | ¼ cup sugar
  • 200 grams | ¾ cup water
  • 10 grams | 4 sheets silver gelatin, bloomed in ice water and wrung
  • gently of excess water
  • 20 | Hartley walnut halves
  • 100 | wild grapes
  • 50 | blue bachelor’s button flowers
How to Make It
  1. FOR THE BLUE CHEESECAKE: Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Combine the brown sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the butter is well incorporated into the sugar. Add the flour and pulse for 15 to 20 seconds just to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold the pecans and then the salt into the dough.
  2. Put the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper and roll out ⅛ inch (3 millimeters) thick into a rectangle that will fit in a full sheet pan. Place the dough, still sandwiched between parchment, between 2 full sheet pans. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is a light golden brown. Remove from the oven, remove the top pan, then peel off the top sheet of parchment. While the crust is hot, using a quarter sheet pan as a template, cut the crust to the same dimensions as the pan. Cover the bottom and sides of the quarter sheet pan with plastic wrap, allowing it to extend over the sides. Carefully transfer the trimmed dough to the prepared pan and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Crumble 90 grams (3 ounces) of the blu del Moncenisio cheese and scatter it evenly over the crust. Combine the cream cheese and the remaining 450 grams (1 pound) of blu del Moncenisio cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour the cream into a saucepan and warm over low heat. Slowly whisk the iota carrageenan into the cream, continuing to whisk until fully dissolved. Continuing to whisk, increase the heat to high and add the gelatin. Bring to a boil and maintain a boil for at least 10 seconds. Pour the hot cream mixture into the stand mixer with the cheeses and pulse to incorporate the cheese into the liquid. Once the mixture is homogenous, pour it over the crust. Let stand at room temperature until the cake begins to set. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator and allow the cake to set fully, about 3 hours.
  4. FOR THE WILD GRAPE GLAZE: Combine the grapes, sugar, and water in a heatproof bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set the bowl directly on top of a pot of simmering water, pressing down lightly on the bowl to form a seal and maintain the heat. Poach the grapes for 2 hours. Remove the plastic wrap and inspect the liquid that has formed in the bowl. It should be a light purple and have all the flavor of a grape. Strain the liquid through a very fine cloth filter and then measure 500 grams (about 2 cups) of it. Transfer to a saucepan and place over low heat. Add the gelatin, heat just until the gelatin melts, and mix gently. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Pour a thin layer of the glaze evenly over the set cheesecake and return the cake to the refrigerator to set the glaze.

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