Passion Fruit Cheesecake

Passion Fruit CheesecakePassion fruit is blessed with zippy acidity and sensuous herbal and citrus flavors, which give this cheesecake a unique character. You’ll find passion fruit juice concentrate in most specialty-food shops. The sour-cream topping adds a welcome lightness that’s lacking in more conventional cheesecakes. At the restaurant, we make it in individual molds, but for the home kitchen we have given it a more conventional pie form.

For the crust:
15 graham crackers/digestive biscuits, broken into pieces
1/4 cup/50 g granulated sugar
1/2 cup/115 g unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1 lb/455 g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup/100 g confectioners’/icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract/essence
3 large eggs
1/2 cup/120 ml passion-fruit juice concentrate, diluted with 1/2 cup/120 ml water
1/4 cup/55 g sour cream, plus 2 1/2 cups/570 g
1/3 cup/85 g mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup/60 ml heavy (whipping) cream/double cream 1 cup/200 g granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C/gas 3.

To make the crust: In a blender or food processor, process the graham cracker/digestive biscuit pieces into coarse crumbs. In a large bowl, combine the crumbs with the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly. Pour in the melted butter and continue to stir until well blended. The mixture should stick together when squeezed firmly in your hand.

Transfer the graham-cracker mixture to a 9-in/23-cm springform pan/tin, distributing it evenly on the pan surface. Pat and press the crumb mixture firmly onto the bottom and about 1 in/2.5 cm up the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, crimping the sides so the foil fits snugly around the pan. (This will prevent water from running into the bottom seam of the springform pan while baking in the water bath.) Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C/gas 2.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, confectioners’/icing sugar, and 1 tsp of the vanilla together until thick and creamy, about 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue mixing until they are well incorporated. The mixture should be pale yellow in color.

Add the diluted passion fruit juice and continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the 1/4 cup/55 g sour cream and the mascarpone cheese and beat until blended. Add the cream and beat for 1 minute longer. Place the springform pan with the graham cracker crust in a larger baking dish. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the springform pan. Add warm water to the baking dish so that it comes halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Carefully set the baking dish and springform pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the cream cheese mix is fairly firm, about 1 hour. (It might still jiggle a bit.) Keep the cake pan in the water bath and remove from the oven. Let cool for 20–30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, use the electric mixer and clean beaters, beat together the remaining 2 1/2 cups/570 g sour cream with the granulated sugar and the remaining 1/2 tsp vanilla. Continue to beat until creamy-textured. Pour the sour cream mixture on top of the cooled cake and return the cake pan in the water bath to the oven. Bake until the top is firm but still somewhat soft to the touch, about 25 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the door slightly open. Let the cake cool in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the cake from the water bath and place on a countertop on top of a kitchen towel. Remove the aluminum foil, which might allow some water to escape. Transfer the cake (still in the springform pan) to the refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days. To serve, run the edge of a warm knife along the inside edges of the pan. Remove the sides and cut the cake into wedges.

Serves 8