Mascarpone Cheese Cake with Lacy Nut Wafers and Blueberry Caramel – Great Chefs of the East
This spectacular dessert combines layers of crisp nut wafers, a cheesecake cream made with mascarpone and cream cheese, and a violet-blue sauce. The cheesecake cream, blueberry caramel, and blueberry compote may all be made one day in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered. The wafers may be made a day in advance and kept in an airtight container. The kataifi may be fried a few hours in advance. Assemble the desserts at the last minute.
- Cheesecake Cream
- Natural Cream Cheese - 8 ounces (1 package), at room temperature
- Mascarpone Cheese - 8 ounces, at room temperature
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Eggs - 2
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Vanilla Extract - 1 tablespoon
- Lacy Nut Wafers
- Almonds or Hazelnuts - 1/4 cup, toasted
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Water - 1/4 cup
- Blueberry Caramel
- Sugar - 2 cups
- Water - 1/2 cup
- Fresh or thawed frozen unsweetened blueberries - 2 cups
- Water - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
- Blueberry Compote
- Fresh or thawed frozen unsweetened blueberries - 2 to 4 cups
- Blueberry Caramel (above) - 1/4 cup
- Kataifi Garnish
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- Kataifi Dough (shredded phyllo dough) - 1 package
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/8 to 1/4 cup
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Fresh Blueberries - 1/2 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup, beaten to firm peaks with 1 teaspoon of sugar
- Fresh mint sprigs - 6 or 8, small
To make the cheesecake cream: Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Beat the cheeses and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs, and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the lemon zest and vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, then place the cake pan in a baking pan. Place the baking pan in the oven and pour enough hot water into the baking pan to come halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove the cheesecake pan from the baking pan, let cool to room temperature, and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator at least 3 hours.
To make the wafers: Preheat the oven to 375 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease and lightly flour them. Combine the nuts and sugar in a blender or food processor and process until very finely ground. Add the water and process briefly to form a paste. Spoon 12 to 16 small mounds of 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons of the paste 3 to 4 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake until brown and bubbly, about 7 to 9 minutes. The wafers will become crisp shortly after baking; if not, return them to the oven and bake another minute or two. Let the wafers cool to room temperature on the baking sheets.
To make the blueberry caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Boil until the sugar turns an amber color, then immediately add the blueberries and stir. Cook the sauce for 2 minutes, then strain it through a fine-meshed sieve and let cool. Add water as necessary to make a pourable sauce.
To make the compote: Roughly chop the blueberries and combine them with 1/4 cup of the blueberry caramel. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
To prepare the kataifi garnish: Heat the oil to 375 F in a deep, heavy pot or deep-fryer (almost smoking). Fry the kataifi, one large handful at a time, for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, or until crisp and just beginning to brown. Drain the fried kataifi on paper towels. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Do not crowd the fryer; let the oil return to temperature between each batch.
To assemble the dessert: Blend the cheesecake mixture with the liquid heavy cream to the consistency of stiff pastry cream. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
With a large spoon, drizzle the blueberry caramel onto each dessert plate in a random pattern. Place 1 wafer on each plate and pipe four rosettes of the cheesecake mixture evenly spaced around the wafer, leaving a well in the center. Fill the center with a spoonful of blueberry compote and place another wafer on top. Pipe three rosettes evenly spaced around the wafer, leaving a well in the center again. Fill the center with another spoonful of blueberry compote. Fluff the kataifi and place a large “nest” atop each dessert. Dust the kataifi and one half of each plate lightly with confectioner’s sugar.
To serve: Garnish each plate with a few fresh blueberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Fit a mint sprig into each nest of kataifi.