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Dragon Fruit Cheesecake (Made with Labneh; yogurt drained for 24 hrs)

I can distinctly remember that it was my Mom who introduced me to cheesecakes around the time I was 13. On its own, that’s not earth-shattering, but what if I told you that my Mom worked just a few steps away from the fanciest cake and pastry shop that I knew of in the ‘90s? Today, Mumbai has some world-class cake and pastry shops all over the city, but at the time, The Oberoi Patisserie was where one could get world-class treats. And treats they were for sure, because despite having an insanely sweet tooth (or perhaps because of it), Mom would make sure to go to the patisserie once a week only and pack something for us. One such ‘treat day’ saw a blueberry cheesecake make its way home. Given my passion for desserts (hint, see the recipes on this blog), I’ve often told you about my dislike for overly sweet desserts. In hindsight, I can identify this as my very first reason to fall in love with cheesecakes. The slight ‘tang’ of cream cheese kept the sweetness in check, and speaking of cream cheese… well, it’s dreamy, creamy and smooth texture deserves a moment of drool worthy silence

Today, I’ve made my way through plenty of baked and unbaked versions of cheesecake to be able to identify that The Oberoi’s was a ‘no-bake’ version, held together with gelatine for a firm texture to combat Mumbai’s cheesecake-melting heat. I know that this might seem blasphemous to fellow cheesecake lovers around the world, but I’ve often left out the pricey Philadelphia Cream Cheese and used local Britannia Cream Cheese (not the cheese spreads!) without anyone being able to tell the difference! Last year, Pamela Timms wrote about how she swapped the cream cheese with homemade labneh, a cheese made by draining yogurt for 24 hours, an experiment that I bookmarked right away.

If you’re wondering how dragon fruit made it to this equation, well, that’s all thanks to my fruitwalla, Raj from Pali Fruit Centre. He pretty much challenged me to bake something with the dragon fruit he was selling. I think I might have shown him one too many pictures of the desserts I’d been making with fresh fruits!

Dragon fruit, particularly the white one you see above, doesn’t have a strong flavour, isn’t too sweet (score!!), and are mostly about texture and freshness than flavour. I pureed them and added that to the cheesecake batter mostly because of the tiny black specks that I hoped would resemble the look of vanilla beans when they are scraped into a batter.

The purple-red variety of dragon fruit is slightly sweet, so I pureed that up with some caster sugar and used it to dot the cake and create little hearts (remember those biscuits called Little Hearts?) by running a satay stick through them. I had some of this sweet puree left that I used as a sauce to top up the cake while serving. It adds an amazing pop of colour and the freshness cuts through the dense cheesecake.

In her column, Pamela Timms spoke about the extortionate price of baking a cheesecake at home, and I agree wholeheartedly. It’s why I thought we should be making Ricotta at home too. As for the crucial taste test, I’ve realized that what people are looking for is a cheesecake that tastes great and reflects all the care and effort you’ve put into it, not the pricey cream cheese. Happy experimenting with this recipe!

Recipe adapted from Mint

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Dragon Fruit Cheesecake (Made with Labneh; yogurt drained for 24 hrs)
I can distinctly remember that it was my Mom who introduced me to cheesecakes around the time I was 13. On its own, that’s not earth-shattering, but what if I told you that my Mom worked just a few steps away from the fanciest cake and pastry shop that I knew of in the ‘90s? Today, Mumbai has some w
Servings
serving
Ingredients
For the labneh
  • 1200 gms milk yogurt whole
Crust
  • 250 gms digestive biscuits
  • 85 gms butter , melted
Filling
  • 600 gms homemade labneh
  • 150 gms caster sugar
  • 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 150 gms white dragon fruit pulp , pureed
  • 1 lemon Zest of
Sauce
Servings
serving
Ingredients
For the labneh
  • 1200 gms milk yogurt whole
Crust
  • 250 gms digestive biscuits
  • 85 gms butter , melted
Filling
  • 600 gms homemade labneh
  • 150 gms caster sugar
  • 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 150 gms white dragon fruit pulp , pureed
  • 1 lemon Zest of
Sauce
Instructions
  1. To make the labneh, you’ll need to start a day prior. Take a bowl, place a mesh strainer over it & line the strainer with muslin cloth. Pour the yogurt over the muslin cloth and place this entire contraption in the fridge, allowing the whey to drain for about 24 hrs. You should be left with about 600 gms of strained labneh.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  3. Process the digestive biscuits in a food processor until they are reduced to a crumb-like consistency. Place these biscuit crumbs in a bowl & add the melted butter and mix them together.
  4. Place the biscuit-butter mixture in an 8-inch springform cake pan. Press the mixture all over the base and up the sides of the pan as well & bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. Once done, allow it to cool completely and then the wrap the outside of the pan (bottom & sides) in 2 to 3 layers of foil.
  5. Make the red dragon fruit sauce by pureeing the pulp with the sugar. Pour this puree into a plastic ‘squeez-y’ bottle with a narrow nozzle & set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, beat the labneh until soft, then add the sugar, flour, eggs egg yolks, vanilla, white dragon fruit puree & lemon zest and this entire mixture until smooth. Pour the filling over the cooled biscuit base.
  7. Make dots on the filling with the red dragon fruit puree in concentric circles and then use a satay stick to run through these dots to create a heart-shaped pattern.
  8. Place the cake pan in a large & deep oven dish and pour hot water into the tray until it comes nearly half-way up the side of the cake pan. Bake in a pre-heated at 160 degrees Celsius for 45 to 60 minutes or until it is set, but has a slight wobble in the centre. A toothpick inserted in the centre should not come out with wet or thin batter.
  9. Place the baked cake on a rack & let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the cake (uncovered) for at least 4 to 6 hours before serving. Run a knife around the edge before unmoulding the cake. Serve with remaining red dragon fruit sauce.
Recipe Notes

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4 Comments on “Dragon Fruit Cheesecake (Made with Labneh; yogurt drained for 24 hrs)

Tarika Singh
September 26, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Hi Pallavi, it could work in a ‘no bake recipe’, but this recipe definitely needs eggs 🙂

Reply
pragati
October 8, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I have always dreaded making cheesecake because who can afford Philly Cream Cheese? This looks like a gr8 alternative..just a question..you covered the crumb crust with foil. Do you take the foil out before pouring in the batter? (dumb question?)

Reply
Tarika Singh
October 8, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Hi Pragati! Philly’s just so expensive in India! About the foil- it’s the outside of the cake pan that’s wrapped in 2 or 3 layers of foil (as shown in the picture) because it’s baked in a water bath. So wrapping the outside of the pan with foil just ensure that none of the water seeps into the cheesecake as it’s baking. The biscuit layer is baked, cooled and only then is the filling poured over it. 🙂

Reply
Trang
October 9, 2014 at 5:28 am

This looks so pretty and delicious! I’ve only had dragon fruit once as a child, and the seeds left a weird impression on me so I haven’t tried it again since. But maybe better luck this time in a cheesecake! 🙂

Reply

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