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Valencia Orange Cheesecake with Caramelized Gingersnap Crust

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Folks, this is a pretty classy dessert. My blog isn’t really fine dining, like Becky Reams’, and usually when I make fancy meals they rarely get photographed since I cook them to eat, which means they’re not timed around when the natural light at its best. Desserts are easier to photograph for that very reason. There are no step-by-step photographs for this recipe since I was under a bit of a time crunch, and the cheesecake portion was prepared when there was no daylight left. But it’s so easy, it’s not needed.

It’s kind of weird to even have cheesecake on my blog, as most make my mouth claustrophobic – it’s all thick and dense and blah. But this isn’t a normal cheesecake, this is a no-bake cheesecake, made in separate components and assembled just before being served. The best part is that you don’t need individual cheesecake pans or rings, just ramekins. Texture-wise, it reminds me more of a mousse. It’s deceptively rich, so you could divide the mixture between eight 4-ounce ramekins, if you so desire.

When I set out to make this dessert, I knew I couldn’t just use cream cheese. It’s fine thinly spread on bagels, but that’s about all I will tolerate of that. Mascarpone was my first and only choice. The two of those are mixed together with Valencia orange zest and juice, and sweetened just enough to make the citrus flavor pop. You could add about half a teaspoon of vanilla extract or the equivalent of a vanilla bean to round it out.

Honesty time. I had originally wanted to use blood oranges, but I couldn’t find any at the store.

Confession. I’ve never tasted a blood orange, but I’m sure they’re good. Also, they’re prettier, and if your store has them I would suggest that you use those instead.

For the crumb topping, I was inspired by a Gordon Ramsay recipe (for a similar no-bake cheesecake, only his was in grams and no way was I going to convert, and besides, his didn’t have mascarpone) where you make a caramel and toss the crumbs in it. Since my cheesecake mousse part wasn’t too sweet, the gingersnaps added a nice texture contrast as well as an additional sweetness and spiciness. It’s amazing.

Finally, there is the candied orange garnish. You could skip this, but you’d be missing out. That little burst of citrus and chew tied it all together, and it makes the dessert look beautiful on the plate.

Even though this fairly simple recipe is labor intensive due to the three different steps, all of them can be prepared in advance, which pretty much makes this the best dessert ever. The moussecake (that does not sound or look right, at all) is light and fluffy, and the crumbs are caramely and spicy. If you’re in need of a spectacular dessert, or just a banging holiday treat, I urge you to give it a go.

Print this recipe

Valencia Orange Mascarpone Cheesecake with Caramelized Gingersnap Crust
Recipe by: Christina Provo

This light and fluffy no bake cheesecake, flavored with orange and topped with spicy caramelized gingersnap crumbles, is the perfect dessert for the upcoming holiday season.

For the cheesecakes -

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8.8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
grated zest of 1 valencia orange
2 tbsp freshly squeezed valencia orange juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled

For the candied oranges and syrup -

2 valencia oranges
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon half and half

For the caramelized gingersnap crust -

1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely crushed gingersnaps

Directions -

  1. Prepare four 8-ounce ramekins by lining with a large square of plastic wrap. Set aside.
  2. Mix cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, zest and juice, and kosher salt in a small bowl until smooth.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk heavy whipping cream just until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/3 whipped cream into cheese mixture to lighten. Scrape lightened cheese mixture into bowl of whipped cream and gently fold just until combined. Divide evenly between prepared ramekins; cover with overhanging plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Candied oranges and syrup -

  5. Slice two 1/4 inch slices from one of the oranges. Juice the remaining oranges – add extra water to make 1 cup.
  6. In a 2 quart saucepan, add juice and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to combine sugar with liquid. Let boil for 5 minutes. Add both orange slices and continue boiling for 10 minutes, reducing heat if boiling too much (you’re looking for a gentle boil). After 10 minutes, turn orange slices over and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
  7. Turn orange slices out onto a parchment lined plate. Place in the refrigerator to cool. Pour syrup into container and set aside.
  8. Caramelized gingersnap crust -

  9. Pour sugar in a 2 quart saucepan. Over medium heat, cook until sugar turns amber, about 5-10 minutes, stirring if necessary. Carefully add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking to combine with caramel. After all the butter is added, pour in gingersnap crumbs and stir to combine. Lower heat to medium low and stir crumbs until the mixture feels sandy, about 3-5 minutes. Pour out onto a parchment lined plate and refrigerate to harden.
  10. To plate -

  11. Unwrap tops of cheesecake. Place plate over ramekin and turn over. Thump bottoms of ramekins and gently pull up (if cheesecake won’t release, carefully tug plastic wrap down). Break up gingersnap crumbs with a fork. Carefully top each cheesecake with 1/4 cup crumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Slice candied oranges into quarters, and each quarter into halves. Place two pieces on top of the crumbs. To garnish plate, carefully dollop syrup around cheesecake (reheat syrup for 15 seconds if necessary).


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