Ottolenghi's baked blue cheesecake with pickled beets and honey




Ottolenghi's baked blue cheesecake with pickled beets and honey

Photo, Jonathan Lovekin.

The pickled beets need to be made the day before. They keep for a few weeks in the fridge, so can be made well ahead of time. You’ll make more than you need for this recipe, so keep any leftovers in the fridge to spoon alongside grilled fish or cheese. If you are short on time or just looking for a shortcut, dicing some ready-pickled beets is a perfectly good substitute.


  • 3 large beets , (1 1/2 lb/670 g) skin on and scrubbed clean
  • 2 cloves garlic , crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 oz/10 g thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup/50 g superfine sugar
  • 2 cups/500mL red wine vinegar
  • coarse sea salt


  • 3 tbsp/40 g unsalted butter , fridge-cold and cut into 3/4-inch/2-cm dice
  • 1 3/4 oz/50 g pumpkin seeds , toasted
  • 5 digestive biscuits , (2 1/2 oz/75 g), crumbled
  • 1 1/2 oz/40 g coarsely grated Parmesan


  • 4 tsp/20 g unsalted butter
  • 1 medium leek , trimmed, white and green parts finely sliced (4 1/2 oz/125 g)
  • 1 1/2 cups/360 g cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup/80 mL heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic , crushed
  • 3/4 oz/20 g chives , finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • 3 1/2 oz/100 g Stilton , or a mixture of 4 parts Valdeon to Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • 4 eggs , lightly beaten


  • Place all the ingredients for the pickled beets in a medium saucepan for which you have a lid, and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Pour over 31/2 cups/800 ml of water—the beets should be submerged, so add a little bit more water, if you need to—and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes, until soft. Remove from the heat and set  aside  until completely cool.  Lift  out the beets,  then peel and cut them into 1/3-inch/1-cm dice. Strain the pickling liquid and discard the bay, thyme, and peppercorns. Return the liquid to the pan and simmer over medium heat for about 25 minutes, until reduced to about 21/2 cups/600 ml. Set aside to cool, then pour the liquid over the beets. Keep in the fridge for 24 hours before using.
  • Preheat the oven to 390°F/200°C (360°F/180°C convection). Lightly grease eight ramekins or soufflé dishes, each measuring 4 1/2 inches/12 cm-wide, and place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each.
  • Place all the ingredients for the cheesecake base in a food processor with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Blitz well to form fine crumbs, then divide among the ramekins, pressing down evenly and firmly. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Place the butter for the cheesecake  in a small pan and add the leek. Cook over medium heat for about 7 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the leek is soft but still retains its color. Set aside to cool, then transfer to a large mixing bowl, along with the cream cheese, crème fraîche, heavy cream, garlic, chives, basil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well to form a smooth paste before adding the blue cheese and eggs. Fold gently,  then pour the mixture into the individual ramekins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and serve at once, in the ramekins or soufflé bowls, with a drizzle of the honey and the hazelnuts and basil sprinkled on top. The pickled beets, drained, can be spooned on top of the cheesecakes before the garnishes, or served alongside.


Ramael Scully takes our All-Star Chef Egg Timer Quiz

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Tip: The thing that gives this dish its initial “wow” is the individual little copper pan each cake arrives in, freshly baked and perfectly formed . You can bake them in wide ramekins or small soufflé dishes if you don’t have copper pans, but it also works well as one large cheesecake. If you go for one large cake, you’ll need to double the base mixture quantity and increase the baking time to 45 minutes. Make sure, also, that you grease and line the whole pan (rather than just the base) before the batter gets poured in. Finally, instead of serving it at once, you’ll need to let it cool for an hour before releasing it from the pan and reheating. Use an 8 inch/22 cm round pan.

To serve:
2 tbsp runny honey (mixed, optionally, with a few drops of truffle oil)
1 oz/30 g hazelnuts, toasted and lightly crushed
1/2 oz/15 g baby basil or regular basil leaves

Recipes and photos from NOPI ©2015 by Yotam Ottolenghi, LLP. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House.