Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Fennel Cheesecake with Candied Carrots

I feel like getting all-kindsa serious up in here...because in some weird fashion, this cheesecake deserves it.

Without a doubt, this here slice of delights has been my single greatest culinary triumph to date.

(In the dessert realm, anyway.)

How so? Well, you see...

As a few of you astute readers may have caught on by now; for the last few months I have been working along with a friend, throwing roaming dinner parties under the guise of the Chicks with Knives Sustainable Supper Club.

It's your basic underground, moveable restaurant kinda thingy. A la the Ghetto Gourmet.

We pick a date and write a menu, send out invites and lo and behold a fantatic set of total strangers show up at a secret location and good times are had by all.

It's simply dreamy.

And my peaches? Thus far, it has been a smash-hit.

(Can I get a holla? Holla!)

We make the kinds of foods that rock our own world - being all Sustainable/Organic/Local and Ethical - and it has been our distinct pleasure to serve it to people who really seem to dig our vibe.


As an added bonus, I get to feed people the food I grow in my own garden, and the food my friends and neighbors have grown too. We serve local meats and fruits and veg and keep it as earth friendly as possible without getting preachy.

So really, it's just lovely and fun and puts a smile on my face.

Which leads me to the cheesecake...the featured dessert at our most recent and most decidedly faboo, sit-down. An insane sounding Fennel Cheesecake. More to the point, a Crustless, Franchi Fennel Cheesecake with Candied Carrot Frizzle and Tree-Tomato and Grapefruit Sorbet.

Welcome to the wackness.

And yet, it worked like a DREAM! I swear.

So much so that I have made it three times since and am still getting calls and emails asking for the recipe. Raves I tell you, raves are all I hear. Such a nice thing!

There is just something so decadant and different about it. You will just have to try for yourself and see. It's is creamy and smooth and rich and airy. All at once.

The fennel is not at all pronounced, but just lends a backround note that leaves you guessing. And if you don't tell your guests that the garnish is carrot, they may never be able to figure out what it really was. (Just make sure you use a truely sweet carrot. Taste a few in your bunch to find out.)

Now me, I used all fair-trade/organic/homegrown/local ingredients and I swear it added to the specialocity of this...but even if you aren't (like me) out harvesting fennel seeds, you can still make a good show of this...and I hope you will.

So try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

1 organic fennel bulb, small dice (about three quarters of a cup)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup organic, fair-trade, vegan sugar
1 tablespoon organic butter
2 teaspoons ground fennel or anise seed mixed with 1 T. sugar
2 pounds organic cream cheese
1 1/4 cup sugar
5 cage-free, organic eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Ouzo, Ricard or Sambuca or 1 teaspoon anise extract
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a small saucepan, combine the fennel, sugar and water and simmer until the water is mostly evaporated and the fennel is sticky and translucent. Carefully pour out on to a Silpat non-stick baking sheet, non-stick baking sheet or parchment paper. Set aside to cool. Break up with a fork a few times as it cools to prevent clumping.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Lightly butter a 10-inch Springform pan and dust the interior with fennel or anise seed. Knock out any excess. Wrap the exterior of the pan with foil. Set aside.

Using a Cuisinart, blend the cheese until soft. Add the sugar and blend for 2 minutes, to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the lemon zest (if using. I didn’t use it.), alcohol (or extract) cream and sour cream and process for another minute. Fold the candied fennel into the batter.

To create a water bath, place the prepared, foil-wrapped, Springform pan into a larger roasting pan. Pour the batter in to the Springform. Place roasting pan with the cheesecake in it into the oven on the center rack and then pour the boiled water in to the roasting pan to create a water bath. The water should come half way up the sides of the cheesecake pan.

Bake for 1.25 hours or until just set; the center should still have a wiggle to it.

Turn the oven off and let the cake cool in there for up to two hours, then refrigerate for at least six hours prior to serving.

Makes one large cheesecake.

(I served this with carrot strips that I tossed in corn-starch, fried, and then dusted with confectioners sugar, slightly sweetened whipped cream and a tree-tomato and grapefruit vodka sorbet.)

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" http://www.freshcatering.blogspot.com If you are not reading this at the aforementioned URL or in your RSS feed, the site you are looking at are violating my copyright. And that's rude.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake anyone? How about a Vegan Eggnog version?

The book the Professional Pastry Chef says: "The main difference between the New York style cheesecake and the regular cheesecake, is that here, the sour cream is part of the filling and is mixed with the other ingredients at the beginning. In the other cake, the sour cream is added as a topping after the cream cheese filling is partially baked. Secondly, in the regular cheesecake, the ratio of sour cream to cream cheese is just about equal. In the New York style, only a small amount of sour cream is used by comparison. Lastly, the New York style contains approximately half again as much egg." Which I guess makes this cake NY style...

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Hi - this looks amazing! What an inspired way to use fennel. Thanks for the link to my blog (EastVillageKitchen.com) today. I'm just starting up and it made my day that someone out there is reading. Cheers, Lauren
Fennel and carrots in a cheesecake, I can see usibg fennel in sausage but this might be strange enough to be good, what the hay I make shrimp cheesecake with a tomato sauce topping and it is great. You might have something here, I'm going to give it a try after all I like carrots.
Wish I was eating this (or something like it at Chickalicious :) instead of sitting in the library. But I must ask--vegan sugar? Is there something non-vegan about regular sugar?
Lauren - My pleasure! Your blog is great!

Andrew - Its just licorice flavored. But mild. I hope you will give it a try!

Erin - Sugar can be processed in lots of ways to make it non-vegetarian. Icky stuff. LOL.
This looks delicious! Great post! Ill be coming back here again to read up on your previous posts :)
These recipes look amazing - do you still cater? if so - can you please let me know your email? I'm looking for a caterer for a party on the 20th of december.
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Your supper club sounds like so much fun! And this cheesecake looks fabulous!
I'd never think to put fennel in cheesecake, but it does have a somewhat sweet taste! Combining with the carrots was an excellent idea :D. I would love to share your recipe with our readers! Please let me know if you're interested :).

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