I’ve always thought that cheesecake was a pretty handy dessert. You can make it a few days in advance (in fact, it’s better that way!), it usually serves a lot of people and almost everyone loves it. Except me. Cheesecake usually just doesn’t do it for me. It’s not like I hate it—it’s just not a favorite. Except this recipe. I taught a cheese class years ago and this lovely dessert was one of my recipes. It called for Stilton, which I thought was rather daring, and I used one of the amazing fruit and Stilton cheeses that are out there. The result was stunning. Don’t be afraid of the Stilton, because it simply adds complexity, not weirdness to the finished product. The rhubarb compote makes it seasonal and is absolutely delicious!
Stilton Cheesecake with Rhubarb Compote
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and softened
½ pound (1 cup) fruit Stilton, rind discarded and cheese crumbled
Three 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
One 8 ounce container sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup Port
½ cup sugar
24 pink peppercorns, coarsely crushed (optional)
2 pounds (about 6 cups) rhubarb, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
Make Shortbread Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F.
Blend together flour and sugar with an electric mixer. Add butter and blend until mixture resembles coarse meal (it will not form a dough). Transfer to a buttered springform pan and press evenly onto bottom. Bake in middle of oven until pale golden, about 30 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack.
Reduce temperature to 300°F.
Make Filling: Beat together crumbled Stilton, cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Beat in flour and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sour cream and vanilla, then pour filling over cooled crust in pan.
Bake cheesecake in middle of oven until puffed and pale golden around edge, about 70 minutes. Transfer cake in pan to rack and run a knife around edge of pan to loosen. Cool completely, about 2 hours. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and transfer cake to a plate.
Make Rhubarb Compote while cake in cooling: Boil Port, ½ cup sugar and peppercorns (if using) in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, stirring until sugar is dissolved, until reduced to about ½ cup, 2 to 3 minutes. Add rhubarb and gently stir to coat. Simmer rhubarb, stirring gently once after 5 minutes, until just tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes, and transfer to a bowl. Chill compote, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Can be made up to 2 days before serving. Makes 16 servings