22 July 2010

Lavender Cheesecake with Blueberries and Lavender Honey

Lavender Cheesecake with Blueberries and Lavender Honey
I love to create a menu around an ingredient or an idea so it was time for another personal challenge here at More Than Burnt Toast.  I continued my  B-day celebrations in Vancouver with L'il Burnt Toast over the weekend so there was no baking for the finale of My World is Blue challenge. In short there was no baking at all with the dessert chosen for my final installment due to the heat wave. There were no ovens harmed in the baking of this dessert!!!! For the past week I had taken on the challenge of creating a menu from beginning to end... from salad to dessert... using culinary lavender and infusions, each recipe incorporating a new technique.



My own inspiration came from a beautiful farm property with sweeping views of Okanagan Lake the Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm . The McFadden family reinvented their heritage property into an agritourism business which today features over 60 varieties of fragrant lavender. Row upon row of gentle waves of icy blue, mauve, and deep violet billow all around you with themed herbal gardens and an array of whimsical vine sculptures.

One of the pleasures of having lavender in the summer garden is thinking up new ways to use it. I started this challenge off with a Nectarine and Lavender Salad with Goat Cheese Medallions as a first course. Fresh lavender flowers were used to impart their unique flavour. Our next technique used the stems of the lavender for an entree of  Lemony Shrimp and Garlic on Lavender Stems. These shrimp skewers get their hint of lavender flavour from the skewers themselves. The third technique was to create a lavender infused olive oil for Lavender Infused Potatoes with Garlic and Fennel that married well with the shrimp. Many of us associate lavender with a floral taste but it is interesting to note that it is part of the mint family and can be substituted for rosemary in almost any dish. The key is to use it sparingly.

With our final dish I wanted to use a lavender infusion. Andrea, owner and proprietor of Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm, generously bestowed upon  me an infusion they develop at the farm, but you will find instructions below to create your own. With this cheesecake you create an infusion of lavender and incorporate it into the mixture...plus lavender honey comes into play also.


Imagine the sweet, buttery flavour of a shortbread cookie as it melts away in your mouth. Now, add to that the fresh, spicy tang of lavender (think of a mild hybrid of sage and rosemary, with a subtle citrusy presence), blowing onto your palate like a spring breeze in Provence. It's a dazzling mix, and it's surprisingly easy to achieve at home.

We have explored the savoury side of lavender but now comes what we associate more easily with lavender....desserts. Lavender lends itself to many applications. The flowers can be put into sugar and sealed tightly for a couple of weeks. This sugar can be substituted for ordinary sugar for a cake, buns or custards. It is limited only by your imagination. Used in moderation, lavender blends well with lemon and other citrus flavours, making a lovely summery ice cream, and adds a floral aroma to baked goods such as shortbread and pound cake. Diminutive blooms add a mysterious scent to custards, flans or sorbets. Imagine white chocolate lavender cheesecake or lavender lemonade. Culinary lavender is also used to make simple syrups which can be used on fruit or desserts as a light and refreshing addition. Keep the lavender stems after removing the dried flower buds and use as a fragrant kabob stick, just slide fresh fruit on the stems. Flowers look beautiful and taste good too in a glass of champagne so let's celebrate the season with style!!!!

For my dessert I chose one that was the simplest to accomplish and perfect for the overwhelming heat of summer. It created such a silky, smooth dream of a cheesecake with a surprising hint of lavender that has quests commenting, "What's in this dish?" while enjoying every bite. I had planned on serving this no-bake cheesecake with figs, but alas, they were unavailable. So for today I used a seasonal substitution of berries drizzled with lavender honey. This cheesecake is light and airy with a hint of lavender for that WOW factor. This is my go-to recipe so you can also make it without the lavender and use any fruit you wish. I highly recommend trying lavender though, just be assured that you are using culinary lavender and not something that has been chemically sprayed.

Enjoy!!

**Lavender Cheesecake with Blueberries and Lavender Honey**

2 cups shortbread cookies pulverized into crumbs (1 package)
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lavender buds
3/4 cup honey
1-8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 - 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Blueberries of other fruit in season
Lavender honey

 Pulverize 2 cups of shortbread cookies into crumbs. (You could really go for the lavender theme and follow the lavender shortbread link above.

 Melt five tablespoons of butter and mix with the crumbs. Press into the bottom of a spring form pan. Put in the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling. In this case I used mini cheesecake molds.

 Crush three tablespoons of lavender. Pour two and a half tablespoons of boiling water over them. Let it steep for at least 15 minutes. Then strain out the lavender buds. This is your lavender infusion.(I was given a culinary lavender infusion so was able to eliminate this step by adding a minute amount to the heavy cream  before whipping)

 Mix together ¾ cup of honey and one 8 ounce package of cream cheese that you’ve left out to soften. I used an electric beater. You could use a whisk, if you prefer.

 Add the lavender infusion, mixing carefully, (add only a minute drop).

 Whip one and a quarter cups of heavy cream.

 Fold the whipped cream into the honey/lavender/cream cheese mixture. Then pour it into the crust or molds.

Refrigerate for three to four hours before serving.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips

37 comments:

  1. I do love cheesecake, honey and especially blueberries which I can never have enough of...so what's a little touch of lavender going to hurt. Before your theme on lavender, I was pretty much a non-liker of the stuff. You are slowly sneaking it in so that foodies like me can appreciate it after all. You are so clever Val ;o)

    Ciao for now and thanks for this lovely dessert.

    Flavourful wishes,
    Claudia

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  2. Oh Val. OH VAL!!! Your description and pictures just made this recipe jump right to the top of my must-make list. Gorgeous!
    xoxo Pattie

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  3. Mmmhhh, heavenly! Cheesecakes are soooo irresistible.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  4. Valli this dessert look heavenly I love it! and I love lavander! huggs gloria

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  5. Wow if I EVER need to know anything about lavendar I know where to come. Now I must scroll through the rest of your lavendar adventure. GREG

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  6. I saw some lavender plants at the farmers' market this week and instantly thought of you. Not such a bad association to have!

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  7. You are converting me to a lavendar lover with your beautiful posts. I'll have to add it to my herb garden now! Thanks for sharing the culinary delights of lavendar - your cheesecake photo is absolutely gorgeous!

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  8. I've loved following your exploration of lavender and this recipe takes the cake (pun SO intended). In the latest Bon Appetit, they created whole menus based around different summer items...there was a zucchini menu, a corn menu, and a tomato menu...and I totally thought of you while reading it!

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  9. We did enjoy the lavender stick with shrimp! And I thought of you when I make that fig and chocolate chip cake, I used lavender honey in it. I think it probably showed up better in this cheesecake than mine. I'll take blueberries any way I can get em.

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  10. Love the recipe. Will have to try and tell my readers about it. Isn't lavender just so versatile??!! I love, love, love it. Thanks for sharing your faboulous recipes with us. I'm so glad I found your site.
    Patricia Perth Australia
    www.lavenderuses.com
    all things lavender

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  11. This is gorgeous! Lovely photos...

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  12. I love the passion you display for a particular ingredient Val. You've really expanded my horizons with laveneder. The whole cheesecajnsounds divine. And who can resist blueberries at their peak in summer?

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  13. I love this lavender theme! Not to mention that I'm so envious of you being in a place with so much lavender. The scent must be intoxicating!

    Everything sounds delightful.

    Happy birthday!

    -Elizabeth

    (Figs are indeed wonderful but so are blueberries! I adore figs but if given a choice between the two, I think I'd always choose blueberries with cheese cake.)

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  14. I've experimented a bit with lavender too...not as much as you have though. I am enjoying it so much.
    And I love that this cheesecake is made without an oven! That's a real plus right now. It looks delicious.

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  15. What beautiful photos of the lavender! This is a very enticing recipe - lovely original flavor. In this summer heat, I appreciate it that it is oven-free.

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  16. These look super cute and tasty! :)

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  17. this is really special, val! the beautiful berries on top aren't even needed, but so lovely. :)

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  18. A tried to grow my own lavander a few years ago and the stuff grew many fragrant leaves, but never flowered. Very disappointing because you have given me so many new ways to use it. This cheesecake just looks elegant tasting. Can elegant be a taste? Now it can!

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  19. Val~ these are beautiful!
    I am loving your lavender~

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  20. I love seeing all of your wonderful lavender recipes! These cheesecakes are so pretty!

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  21. Valli: Thanks for this beautifully delicious post. That cheese cake is already in my recipe file. Can't wait to try it!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  22. What luscious little cheesecakes! You've made a lavender convert out of me, Val.

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  23. What a lovely dessert. Your photo is breathtaking, Val. This is a dish that simply must be tried. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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  24. What a lovely dessert! The miniature size adds to the charm.

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  25. I'm so glad you have had such success with the lavender, because these recipes are amazing!! I love the lavender cheesecake especially!

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  26. Dear Val, I absolutely adore the lavender recipes you've been sharing. :-) There's something whimsical, fairytale-ish and charming that completely delights me. :-) Thank you!!

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  27. What amazing little morsels. I have never cooked using lavender,but it sounds delectable!!

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  28. Delicious dessert!
    Thanks for sharing.

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  29. Lavender must be the 'in' thing at the moment because it's popping up everywhere!
    The cheesecakes look adorable - and tasty!!

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  30. Just too gorgeous Val... whimsical and beautiful!

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  31. I am always puzzled how borders have faded in this .. Century!! Lavander from tha bathroom ... to your table ... grapefruit, from the kitchen .. to your bathtub, roses from the garden to the jam flask, and clothes worn inside out, nightgowns as dresses, Ts as pjamas .. how interesting!

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  32. Loving your lavendar recipes! Just beautiful!

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  33. Wow, these are just stunning! I love cooking with lavender:)

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  34. I'm very fond of lavender custard, so the thought of a lavender cheesecake is wonderful too. The lavender is in full bloom at the moment here, droning with bees when the sun is out. Lovely post and a very special blog you have here!

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  35. I do love everything about this dessert. Even the size looks so elegant. I like the idea of lavender, but only a drop. I would like to make these for company. No bake is right up my alley these days.You've done a great job with your theme.

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  36. That looks just beautiful Val!

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  37. Belated Happy Birthday! I'm ready to dig into that cheesecake! : )

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Welcome to my home. Thank you so much for choosing to stay a while and for sharing our lives through food. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions, daily encouragement and support.

Val

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