As much as I love all cheese, I have never been much of a cheesecake fan. It could be that I rarely crave sweet things (I think I have a salt tooth, not a sweet tooth), or that cheesecake is usually so dense and weird, and always gets stuck right at the back of the throat. However, I was recently inspired by a tea room I visited in Savannah.
As many of you know, I am currently on a grain-free refined sugar-free diet for health reasons, so adjusting recipes has been both a little challenging and fun. For the crust I used an *almond flour and pecan tart crust that I found on the blog Against All Grain. Truly great recipes there that have been invaluable to me in adjusting to this new lifestyle.
The filling is steeped with Earl Grey tea, sweetened with honey, and lightened up with the addition of creme fraiche. I steeped fresh lavender in a mild honey for a few weeks, but you could certainly buy lavender honey, or skip it altogether and use clover or orange blossom honey instead.
*A quick word about almond flour: While you can use the kind you find at the grocery store (usually Bob's Red Mill), I highly suggest ordering a blanched almond flour instead. It is ground without the skins, which creates a finer texture that is closer to "regular" flour. It can replace flour in virtually any recipe with a little tweaking and is packed full of protein. It does burn easily so a close eye must be kept on whatever you are baking. I love the Honeyville brand, which I buy in bulk and freeze, keeping just enough to use in the refrigerator.
Earl Grey Tea & Lavender Honey Cheesecake
crust: 3/4 cup pecans
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 T cold butter or coconut oil
2 T honey
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grind pecans in food processor until a coarse meal forms.
Add remaining ingredients and pulse until dough forms, or cut in with pastry cutter.
Press dough into a 9" spring form pan.
Poke holes into crust all over with a fork and bake for 12 min.
Place in freezer for 20 minutes.
filling: 1 lb. cultured cream cheese (2 packages)
16 oz. creme fraiche or good quality sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream or full fat coconut milk
1/2 a vanilla bean, split in half and scraped
2/3 cup lavender honey
2 T strongly brewed Earl Grey tea
1/2 tsp salt
2 Earl Grey tea bags
Heat cream to a boil, remove from heat, and steep with 2 tea bags for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and creme fraiche until smooth.
Add remaining ingredients including cooled heavy cream.
Pour into prepared crust (I line the outside of my spring form pan with aluminum foil to help keep the water bath out.).
Place in a baking pan and fill baking pan halfway with hot water.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours, rotating halfway.
Bake until just barely set in the center and surface is lovely and lightly browned.
Let cool, then let chill in refrigerator overnight.
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