Close your eyes and allow your senses to be transported to the bustling souks and enchanting landscapes of Morocco. Picture vibrant spices, fragrant roses, and the gentle crunch of pistachios. Now, imagine all these captivating flavours and aromas artfully combined into a single, showstopping dessert: the Moroccan-inspired Rose and Pistachio Cheesecake.
Inspired by the rich culinary heritage of Morocco, this exquisite cheesecake pays homage to the country’s vibrant flavours and ancient traditions. Its creation is an ode to the diverse ingredients that have graced Moroccan palates for centuries, bringing a harmonious fusion of sweet and floral notes to the world of cheesecakes.
The inspiration for this Moroccan-infused masterpiece draws from the country’s vibrant food culture and its artful blending of flavours and spices. Morocco’s diverse history and geographical location have resulted in a cuisine influenced by Berber, Arab, and Mediterranean traditions, creating a melting pot of palate-teasing pleasures. It is this spirit of culinary exploration that breathes life into the Rose and Pistachio Cheesecake.
Every bite of this decadent creation unfolds like a love letter to Morocco’s culinary tapestry. The velvety smoothness of the cream cheese, delicately infused with rose essence, dances on the tongue, while the pistachio crust adds a delightful contrast of textures. Each layer tells a story, with the warmth of Moroccan spices like cinnamon and cardamom adding depth and complexity to this enchanting dessert.
As you savour the Rose and Pistachio Cheesecake, take a moment to appreciate the rich flavours and aromatic nuances that inspired its creation. Allow the spirit of Morocco to transport you to a world of vibrant colours, exotic spices, and ancient traditions. This dessert encapsulates the essence of a country renowned for its culinary marvels, offering a tantalising taste experience that will leave you yearning for more.
For the base
- 70 g pistachio kernels
- 200 g digestive biscuits
- 100 g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
- 2 tbsp rosewater
- 1 tsp cardamom (optional)
For the filling
- 300ml of heavy whipping cream
- 400 g cream cheese
- 100 g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- 1 tsp of lemon zest
- Juice of half a lemon
- To make the base, put the pistachios into a food-processor and blend until fine. Add the biscuits and continue to blend until fine.
- Pour in the melted butter, rosewater and cardamom, if using. Blend together.
- Grease and line a 25cm spring-form cake tin with baking paper. Tip the biscuit base into the tin and spread out evenly. Press down with your hands to pack it together and form a solid base. Put into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, scoop the heavy cream into a mixing bowl and whisk into soft peaks.
- Put the cream cheese into a separate mixing bowl, add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Scrape into the bowl with the whipped cream and pour in the rosewater. Whisk together into firm peaks.
- Spoon in an even layer over the cheesecake base. Return it to the fridge and chill for 2 hours until firm.
- Take the cheesecake out of the fridge and remove it from the tin. Slide the cheesecake onto a serving plate or board. Peel off the paper from the sides and garnish with the pistachios and rose petals. Serve immediately.
- 10 g slivered Iranian pistachios, bashed until fine
- 1 tbsp dried rose petals
THE CARROT CAKE TRANSCENDENCE
In the realm of desserts, one particular confection seems to have stirred a divide between generations: carrot cake. Often met with scepticism by the younger crowd, this humble dessert has a remarkable ability to win over even the most cynical palates. It’s a cake that transcends time and trends, and as many have come to discover, its charm lies in its rich history and the loving touch of grandmothers who have mastered the art of baking it to perfection.
While carrot cake may not elicit the same immediate enthusiasm as a decadent chocolate torte or a creamy cheesecake, its complex flavours and subtle sweetness have the power to captivate those willing to give it a chance. It’s a dessert that matures alongside its admirers, evolving from a dubious treat to a beloved classic.
At its core, carrot cake represents a beautiful blend of simplicity and sophistication. This cake is not merely a vehicle for carrots but a symphony of flavors and textures that dance upon the taste buds. The earthy sweetness of freshly grated carrots intertwines with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, while the cream cheese frosting adds a tangy, silky finish. It’s a harmonious marriage that only time-tested recipes can deliver.
As young people mature and embark on their own culinary journeys, they often find themselves drawn back to the comfort and nostalgia of grandma’s carrot cake. It becomes a symbol of connection, a way to bridge the gap between generations and honour the traditions that shaped us. With each bite, we rediscover the delight that initially eluded us, realising that carrot cake is not just a dessert but a timeless link to our past.
So, to all the sceptics and doubters out there, it’s time to give carrot cake a chance. Embrace the journey from ambivalence to adoration, and let the love of a grandmother’s recipe guide you to a newfound appreciation for this classic dessert. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised as you unravel the layers of flavor and unveil the sweet memories that lie within each slice of carrot cake.
For the cake:
- 2 cups (260g) chopped pecans (1 cup for cake, 1 cup for garnish. Nuts are optional.)
- 11/2 cups (300g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil or canola oil (or melted coconut oil)
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (133g) smooth unsweetened apple sauce (or you can use canned pineapple!)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups (312g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups (260g) grated carrots (about 4 large)
For the icing:
- 16 ounces (452g) full-fat brick cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (8 tbsp; 113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups (480g) icing sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt, to taste
- Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread the chopped pecans on the sheet and toast for 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Turn the oven up to 180°C. Grease two or three 30cm cake tins, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the tins.
- Whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, apple sauce, and vanilla together in a large bowl until combined and no brown sugar lumps remain. In another large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the ingredients together until just combined. Fold in the carrots and 1 cup of the toasted pecans. (The rest of the pecans are for garnish.)
- Pour/spoon the batter evenly into the cake tins. If using three cake tins, bake for 20-24 minutes. If using two cake tins, bake for 30-35 minutes. Test the centre with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cakes are done. If not, continue to bake until cooked through. Do not over-bake. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
- Make the frosting: in a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the icing sugar, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes until completely combined and creamy. Add more icing sugar if frosting is too thin, a little milk if frosting if too thick, or an extra pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Frosting should be soft, but not runny.
- Assemble and frost: first, using a large, serrated knife or cake leveler, layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer, more frosting, and then top with the 3rd layer. Spread remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Decorate the sides and top of the cake with the remaining toasted pecans. Refrigerate cake for at least 15-20 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
- Cover leftover frosted cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.