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Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Ouzo-Poached Figs
3 h 45 m
EatingWell Test Kitchen
“This tangy yogurt cheesecake is topped with ouzo-poached figs inspired by sikomaida, a traditional delicacy from Corfu made with dried figs macerated and kneaded with ouzo and pepper, which are formed into disks and dried in chestnut leaves. It's also delicious with seasonal fruits, fresh or dried and poached, or with whole preserves.”
15 plain Melba toasts, (about 4 ounces; not Melba “snacks”)
⅓ cup walnut halves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
14 ounces reduced-fat (Neufchâtel) cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2½ cups low-fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt, (see Ingredient Note)
7 large egg whites
1 teaspoon cinnamon
16 whole dried figs
2 cups warm water
½ cup ouzo, Mavrodaphne or port wine (see Ingredient Note)
2 rose geranium leaves, plus more for garnish (optional; see Ingredient Note)
1 cinnamon stick
1 3-inch strip orange zest
½ cup sugar
1To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 325°F. Put a kettle of water on to heat for the water bath. Coat a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray; tightly wrap the bottom and outside with a double layer of foil.
2Process Melba toasts and walnuts in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add oil and 2 tablespoons sugar and toss until evenly moist. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
3To prepare cheesecake: When the crust is almost cool, beat cream cheese and 1 cup sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add yogurt, egg whites and cinnamon; beat until well blended. Pour the batter over the cooled crust.
4Place the cheesecake in a roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come 1 inch up the outside of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake in the center of the oven until set around the edges but the center still jiggles, about 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door ajar for 1 hour. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour more.
5To prepare topping: Meanwhile, place figs in a small bowl, cover with warm water and let soak for 1 hour.
6Strain the figs, reserving the soaking water. Strain the soaking water into a medium saucepan. Add ouzo (or wine); bring to a boil over high heat. Add geranium leaves (if using), cinnamon stick, orange zest and the figs. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the figs are plump and the liquid is the consistency of a thin syrup, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the figs with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Stir ½ cup sugar into the liquid, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 15 to 25 minutes. Discard the geranium leaves, cinnamon stick and orange zest. Chop the figs and return them to the syrup.
7Remove the pan sides from the cheesecake. Serve each slice topped with some of the fig sauce and a rose geranium leaf, if desired.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the fig sauce (Steps 5-6) for up to 1 week.
Equipment: 10-inch springform pan
Ingredient notes: Greek yogurt is made by removing the whey from cultured milk, which gives the yogurt an extra thick and creamy texture. Look for it with other yogurt in large supermarkets. Unstrained regular yogurt cannot be used in its place for this recipe, but you can strain plain yogurt to give it the same thick texture as Greek-style yogurt. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Spoon in 4 cups nonfat plain yogurt and let it drain in the refrigerator until reduced to about 3 cups, about 2 hours.
Ouzo is a sweet Greek liquor with a pleasant anise flavor;mavrodaphne is a sweet, Greek red wine similar to port; port is a fortified dessert wine from Portugal. Find ouzo in liquor stores and Mavrodaphne and port in wine shops and liquor stores.
Rose geranium (Pelargonium) is part of a larger family of “scented geraniums.” The edible leaves impart a delicate rose flavor when added to desserts, beverages and other foods. The plants can be found near other herbs at garden centers or in gourmet food shops when in season.