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This recipe for a White Chocolate Cheesecake with Tangerine Marmalade Topping from Chios might seem long but, trust me, the homemade almond cookie crust is easier than it looks and definitely worth the extra time (not to mention, almond cookies complement the rich flavors so much better than the usual graham cracker crust!). Developed especially for our Zelos blog by Chios-based pastry chef, Aggeliki Throuvala, this bright-colored dessert is a lighter twist on the usual chocolate and orange flavor combinations you find in most dessert cookbooks and blogs.
Aggeliki's shop, Pastry Sinners, is an exceptional place, surprisingly sophisticated for such a quiet island like Chios (this is not Mykonos or Santorini, full of luxuriously expensive restaurants & beach clubs!). I love the finesse of the flavors of Aggeliki's desserts, but also the real-ingredients options she has for breakfast, including vegan and gluten-free pastries that are simply delicious.
I must admit that in all my years living abroad (including 12 in Belgium, the capital of chocolate and exceptional pastry chefs!), I rarely met talent like Aggeliki's. If you ever visit Chios, you must visit her pastry shop...but until then, try her recipe, made with the tangerine marmalade that is so unique to the island. Citrus Scent of Memory hand makes it in small batches, using only the rare Chian Tangerine variant grown on the island.
Stay tuned for a full interview with Aggeliki as part of our Greek Women in Business series, but for now, consider this recipe our Valentine's Gift to you all!
1 large jar (380 grams) Chian Tangerine Marmalade from Citrus Scent of Memory. It's handmade, which makes a big difference in the flavor, texture and taste!
For the white chocolate filling
1 lb cream cheese
10 oz (approx. 1 ¼ cup) of heavy cream (at least 35% fat)
7 oz white baking chocolate, cut into small pieces (you can also use white chocolate chips)
For the almond cookie base
10 tbsp cold butter, cut in small pieces
1 ¼ cups ground almonds
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups sugar
the zest from one large lemon that hasn't been treated with wax
A couple of days before you want to serve your cheesecake, prepare the white chocolate filling & almond cookie crust.
First, place the white chocolate pieces in a medium bowl. Warm the cream in a small saucepan on medium heat until it’s just ready to boil and then pour over the chocolate. Wait one minute and then mix with an immersion blender until the chocolate and cream are smooth, with no lumps.
Add the cream cheese and mix well for two minutes until smooth. Place the mixture in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
Next, make the almond cookies for your crust by mixing all the ingredients in a food processor or with a hand mixer in a large bowl. Refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes.
Roll the chilled dough into a log and cut into 1”x1” cookies. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20” at 325F. Remove and let cool. Store in an airtight container until you’re ready to make your cheesecake.
Place the almond cookies in a food processor and blend until they're finely crumbled. Pour into a 10” springform pan, a glass pie plate or individual tart molds. Press firmly with a spoon to make a thin crust, but if you're using springform pans, don't press the crumbs up the sides of the pan.
Transfer the chilled white chocolate filling to a large bowl and whip with a hand mixer until it's a little fluffy. You want a thick consistency, like Greek yogurt, so as soon as it forms soft peaks and sticks to the beaters, turn off the mixer. You don’t want the filling to be too stiff, for it will set more in the refrigerator.
Pour the filling into the pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Then top with the Chian Tangerine Marmalade, spreading it evenly over the filling. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
To serve, take a thin knife and slide around the side of the springform pan before releasing the mold. Enjoy!
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