WHAT YOU NEED

Crust Ingredients: 
  • 1 ½ cups (190 g) walnuts, whole
  • 2 tbsp (28 g) brown sugar, packed
  • 4 tbsp (80 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp (40 g) unsalted Ontario butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp (1.5 g) salt, fine

 

Filling ingredients:

  • 2 x 1lb tubs (900 g) tub Ontario ricotta cheese, full fat
  • 1 x 8 oz tub (227 g) cream cheese, full fat
  • 1 x 8 oz tub (227 g) mascarpone cheese
  • 4 eggs, whole
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp (20 g) cornstarch

Chef’s note: you can throw in whatever you’ve got in the fridge…. mascarpone, blue cheese, strained cottage cheese, even more cream cheese or ricotta!
 

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch (454 g) red grapes, seedless
  • 1/3 cup (85 g) Ontario red wine or port
  • 2 tbsp (40 g) local honey
  • 5 sprigs (5 g) fresh thyme 

Chef’s note: you can adjust according to the sweetness level of your grapes or leave the honey out entirely if the grapes are sweet enough.

INSTRUCTIONS

Walnut Crust:

  • Preheat the oven to 400oF (204oC), with the rack in the centre of the oven. Grease a 10” springform pan (the one with a removable bottom) with some butter, and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Wrap the exterior and bottom of the pan with several layers of aluminum foil that comes up the sides, making sure that it’s watertight as the cheesecake will eventually be baked in a water bath a.k.a. a bain marie.
  • In a food processor, chop the walnuts until ground.  A few larger pieces of walnut are fine. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Press the walnut crust onto the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer. Put the pan in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and firm to the touch.  Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.
 

Cheesecake Filling:

  • Mix the cornstarch into the sugar to break up any of the cornstarch lumps.
  • ​Add all the ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. If you have a small food processor you may need to do this in 2 or 3 batches. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl well to make sure the mixture is as smooth as possible. This step can be accomplished with a hand-held electric or a stand mixer.
  • Pour the prepared filling on top of the baked walnut crust in the foil-wrapped pan.  Smooth out the top surface of the batter.  Place the filled springform pan into a large baking dish and place the dish in the oven.  Carefully fill the baking dish with boiling water until the water comes halfway up the sides of the springform pan.  You can skip the water bath / bain marie portion but it helps to protect it from puffing up and collapsing slightly and to keep the final texture as smooth as possible. 
  • Bake the cheesecake in the oven for about 75 minutes or until the filling is set.  It may need slightly more time depending on your home oven.  When you shake the pan a slight wobble in the middle is fine as it will continue baking from the residual heat.  Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the cheesecake cool gradually for 1 hour. 
  • Once the cheesecake is cool you can remove the pan from the water bath and remove the foil layer.  Run a knife carefully around the edge of the pan to help it release.  Chill the cheesecake in the fridge at least 6 hours or overnight.
 

Roasted Grapes:

  • Preheat the oven to 400oF (204oC), with the rack in the centre of the oven.  Pick the grapes off the vine and combine them in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Pour all the ingredients into a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes stirring every 10 mins or so until the grapes have caramelized and there is a syrup in the bottom of the pan.  If the liquid is evaporating too quickly add a dash more wine or water.  Set the roasted grapes aside to cool.  They are best the day they are roasted. 
  • Run a knife around the edge of the pan again.  Remove the cheesecake carefully from pan, cut into desired potions and serve with the roasted grapes!  The cheesecake can be frozen by the slice and pulled and defrosted overnight in the fridge whenever you want a creamy indulgence. 
 

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