Happy National Cheesecake Day, a great time to indulge in this decadent dessert that gets its exceptionally creamy texture and complex flavor from the addition of mascarpone and sour cream. For the best results, seek out an assertively flavored honey, such as wildflower or chestnut honey, from your local farmers’ market.
Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake with Sour Cherries
1 1/2 cups (6 oz./185 g) almond biscotti crumbs
6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) plus 1 Tbs. sugar
Fine sea salt
1 lb. (500 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (15 oz./185 g) wildflower or other full-flavored honey, such as star thistle or tupelo
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 lb. (500 g) mascarpone
1 cup (8 oz./250 g) full-fat sour cream or Greek-style yogurt
5 cups (1 1/4 lb./625 g) pitted sour cherries
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).
In a bowl, combine the biscotti crumbs, 5 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./80 ml) of the melted butter, the 1 Tbs. sugar and a pinch of salt. Use the remaining 1 Tbs. melted butter to grease a 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan with 3-inch (7.5-cm) sides. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
In a bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese briefly to soften. Pour in the honey and beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the almond extract and lemon zest and juice. Finally, beat in the mascarpone and sour cream.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the cake in the oven for 1 hour without opening the door. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature (the center will still jiggle a bit). Refrigerate the cake in the pan for at least 6 hours, and preferably overnight.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cherries and the 1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the cherries are tender and have darkened in color but are still whole, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain into a heatproof bowl through a fine-mesh sieve. Return the liquid to the saucepan (reserve the bowl) and continue to simmer until thickened to a syrup and reduced by about half, about 5 minutes longer. Put the cherries in the reserved heatproof bowl and pour the syrup over them. Let stand until ready to serve.
To unmold, run a knife around the inside edge of the cake pan. Remove the ring from the pan and place the cake on a serving platter. Spoon a mound of cherries into the center of the cake. To serve, cut the cake into wedges, arrange on individual plates and spoon additional cherries and syrup on top of each. Serves 12.
Find more recipes like this one in our enticing collection of authentic dishes made modern, Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti.