As memory serves me, it seemed that winters in Upstate New York involved day after day of grey skies. The last few winters have been spent in Salt Lake City, where grey skies were replaced with sunny ones, though muddled with the fog of our dreaded January inversion. In times when it's difficult to find some sunny clear skies, it is comforting to know that winter's seasonal fruits are bright and sunny themselves. So, here we have it: Shaker Citrus Cheesecake Tart.
In addition to being an answer to a need for some sunshine, this dessert was inspired by shaker lemon pie. It is a thin layer of creamy cheesecake, enveloped by a spicy-sweet gingersnap crust and sugared winter citrus slices. It is just what you need in these gloomy days :)
Shaker Citrus Cheesecake Tart
Makes one 9" round tart
for the topping:
1 orange, sliced as thin as you can get it
1 lemon, sliced in the same way
1/2 cup sugar
for the crust:
6 oz gluten-free gingersnap cookies, finely crushed
1/2 cup walnuts, ground
4 tablespoons butter, melted
for the filling:
12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
citrus-syrup goodness (leftover from the soaking fruit . . . you'll see)
For the citrus, place lemon and orange slices in a shallow container and sprinkle with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours, turning the container over once.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, stir together crushed cookies, nuts, and butter. Press crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" tart pan. Bake 8 minutes.
In a mixer with the paddle attachment or a food processor, cream the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla bean powder and heavy cream. Add the eggs, one at a time, combining in between each addition. Drain the sugar-y syrup from the container of citrus into the cheesecake batter, reserving the slices. Pour batter into crust.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and raise the temperature to 400 degrees F. Carefully arrange citrus slices on top of the cheesecake. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes more, or until the center jiggles just a bit.
Cool cheesecake to room temperature, about two hours. Refrigerate at least one hour before consuming. Consume the WHOLE thing, even the slices-that's why you soaked them!