This Carrot Honey Cheesecake inverts the classic carrot cake and cream cheese frosting into a creamy honey cheesecake with beautiful carrot spiced swirls. (Jump directly to the Carrot Honey Cheesecake recipe.)
“So are you off of grains completely?” I asked my friend Tina. She had just celebrated a milestone birthday and my friend Peter was throwing a small dinner party to mark the occasion. As usually, I was on dessert duty but she had mentioned to me in passing awhile ago that she was trying something new with her diet. She text back that the dinner party was her “cheat day” so the sky was the limit. I dug a little deeper to see if there was any sort of dessert that she actually liked.
“I’m not a huge chocolate fiend.” She texted back and I immediately started to question our friendship. But to each their own I guess, and more for me and all that. Then her next text got more specific. “I love carrot cake. Cheesecake. I love almond flavors. I like sweet and savory.” Now those are parameters I could work with! Challenge accepted!
When I brought my creation, a carrot honey cheesecake with almond cinnamon crust, to the dinner party it was a huge hit. My friend Hadley inhaled his serving, declaring it the favorite dessert that I have ever made that he has tasted (and that man has tasted a lot of my baked goods). My friend Peter and Grant who were hosting the dinner party loved how gorgeous it looked on their plate (and how creamy delicious it was on their palate). And most importantly, Tina the birthday girl, who I created the dessert for, swooned over it. After all, I pretty much tailored it to her taste. Happy birthday Tina! I hope you have many many more.
Carrot Honey Cheesecake with Almond Cinnamon Crust
By Irvin Lin
I radically adapted and combined two cheesecake recipes from my cookbook Marbled, Swirled, and Layered to come up with this recipe. It’s not difficult to make and the use of the waterbath keeps the cheesecake from cracking. Just be sure to allow plenty of time to prep the carrot curd beforehand (you need time to let the carrot juice reduce down) as well as time for the cheesecake to cool slowly (about three hours) and chill overnight. You also want to make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature or it will be lumpy and no amount of mixing will get rid of the lumps. Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator at the very beginning before you start reducing the carrot juice. By the time you are ready to use it, it should be at room temperature.
2 cups carrot juice
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated white sugar
pinch of kosher salt
4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, refrigerator cold
3 large eggs
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 1/2 cups (105 g) animal crackers
2/3 cup (95 g) whole almonds
1/3 cup (67 g) granulated white sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
24 ounces (680 g or 3 bricks) cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated white sugar
1/4 cup (85 g) honey
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Make the carrot curd by first pouring the carrot juice into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and let the carrot juice reduce to 1/2 cup (depending on the size of the saucepan this can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes). Once the juice has reduced, remove from heat and add the sugar, salt and butter to the pan. Stir until the carrot juice has cooled a bit from the cold butter.
2. Add the eggs, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Then place back on the stove and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook until the butter is completely melted and then reduce to low heat and cook until the curd has thickened and coats the back of a spoon and holds a line when you drag a finger through the curd. This could be anywhere from 4 to 8 minutes. Pour the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature as you prep the crust and filling.
3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking oil. Place two large sheets of aluminum foil on a table, crisscrossing each other. Place the springform pan in the middle of the foil and then wrap the foil up and around the side of the pan.
4. Place the animal crackers, almonds, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse in 1-second burst until the nuts are finely ground and the mixture is uniform in color. Drizzle the melted butter and the almond extract into the bowl and pulse again until the crumbs are wet and start to clump a bit. Dump into the prepared pan and press the crumbs with your finger (or the back of a spoon) evenly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan. Bake in the oven until the crust starts to smell fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack as you make the filling.
5. Reduce the heat of the oven to 300ºF. Make the cheesecake filling by placing the cream cheese, sugar and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, waiting for each to incorporate before adding the next one. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.
6. Place the foil wrapped springform pan with the baked crust in a large roasting pan. Carefully spoon half of the filing into the crust and spread it evenly over the crust. Spoon most of the carrot curd over the filling, reserving about 2 tablespoons for the top. Spread over the filling then cover the curd with the remaining cheesecake filling.
7. Drop the reserve carrot curd in 1/2 teaspoon circles over the cheesecake filling top evenly spaced all over. Take a chopstick and swirl the curd decoratively all over. Pour boiling hot water into the roasting pan until it goes about halfway up the sides of the springform pan then bake the cheesecake until the edges of the cheesecake starts to barely puff up and turn slightly brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. The center of the cheesecake will still be wobbly but it will firm up when it cools. Turn the oven off and crack the oven door slightly to cool the inside but don’t remove the pan from the oven. Let the cheesecake cool in the roasting pan until the water is at room temperature, about an hour. Remove from water, discard the foil and let the cheesecake cool on a wire rack for another 2 hours or until the bottom of the pan doesn’t feel warm anymore. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
8. Serve directly from the refrigerator or let it sit at room temperature for an hour before serving for a less firm texture.
Make 1 9-inch cheesecake, serves 12.