Sweet Potato Cheesecakes
This dessert, with its sweet potato color, just looks like fall. Chef Conrad enhances that appearance by garnishing the plates with leaf-shaped tuiles. Sugar-in-the-raw, a large-crystal form of unrefined sugar, is caramelized on the tops of the cheesecakes. Brown sugar may be substituted.
- Tuile Cookies
- Egg Whites - 4
- Sugar - 2/3 cup
- All-Purpose Flour - 4 tablespoons
- Vanilla - 1 teaspoon
- Almond Extract - 1/2 teaspoon
- Unsalted Butter - 5 tablespoons, melted
- Cocoa Powder - 1 teaspoon
- Ground cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
- Granulated sugar - for sprinkling
- Cream Cheese - 1-1/2 pound, at room temperature
- Brown Sugar - 1-1/2 cup
- All-Purpose Flour - 1/3 cup
- Sweet potato puree - 2 cups (1 pound), roasted
- Sour Cream - 8 ounces
- Eggs - 5
- Nutmeg - 1/2 teaspoon
- Ground cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
- Molasses - 1 tablespoon
- Lemon Juice - 1 tablespoon
- Sugar-in-the-raw - 6 tablespoons
- Creme Anglaise - 1-1/2 cups
- Cinnamon Sticks - 4
- Mint sprigs - 4
- Cinnamon - for dusting
To make the tuiles: In a deep bowl, beat the egg whites on medium until foamy, then sprinkle in the sugar while beating until all the sugar is absorbed. Increase the speed to medium-high. Add the flour, vanilla, and almond extract. Slowly add the melted butter while beating. When completely blended, stop the mixer. Divide the batter into thirds in separate bowls. To the first bowl, add the cocoa and whisk to blend. To the second bowl, add the cinnamon and whisk to blend. Add nothing to the final bowl. Refrigerate at least two hours, overnight if possible.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Cut large leaf-shaped stencils from medium-weight cardboard or heavy plastic; the stencil should be about 1/16th-inch thick. Line two baking pans with silicone sheets or parchment paper. Place a stencil on the prepared pan and spread evenly with one of the batters; make the tuiles as thin as you can while filling the stencil evenly. Lift the stencil and repeat. Make a mixture of leaf patterns with each batter. Bake 7 to 8 minutes, until the tuiles are firm and begin to brown. Remove from the oven. Working rapidly, lift a tuile with a large spatula and drape it over a bowl or glass to shape; let the tuile cool in place, then remove. Repeat with all tuiles. If the tuiles become too stiff to bend, place them back in the warm oven for a few seconds until they warm and become pliable again. When completely cooled, carefully store in a cool, dry place.
To make the cheesecakes: Preheat the oven to 300 F. Spray individual ramekins with vegetable oil spray and blot excess with a paper towel. Coat the ramekins with granulated sugar. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, and flour together, scraping down the sides frequently, until completely blended. Beat in the sweet potato puree and sour cream. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating slowly but constantly. Beat just until completely incorporated; do not beat too much air into the mixture. Finish by beating in the nutmeg, cinnamon, molasses, and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins, filling them half way. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan and fill the pan two-thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins with hot water. Place in the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until set and firm. Remove and let cool.
To serve: Preheat the broiler to high. Wrap a warm towel around a ramekin for 15 seconds; unmold the ramekins onto dessert plates. Sprinkle the tops with the raw sugar. Place under the broiler just long enough to melt the sugar, or, use a torch to melt the sugar. Drizzle broad strokes of creme anglaise around each cheesecake. Arrange 4 to 5 tuile leaves to one side on each plate and add a cinnamon stick to each group of leaves. Place a small mint sprig on each cheesecake. Finish the plates with a light dusting of cinnamon at one edge.