Purple Sweet Potato Mini Cheesecake
Another Passover-friendly recipe? Why not. My baking obsessions include finding ways to incorporate brilliantly hued fruits and vegetables into pastries. I can’t resist rhubarb, blood oranges, blackberries, red currants, and, most recently, purple sweet potatoes. I’ve done a purple sweet potato pie and, in the non-baking vein, purple sweet potato gnocchi. This week, in search of a way to use up some cream cheese, I decided to try a purple sweet potato cheesecake. It’s Passover, though, so a normal crust wouldn’t do. Not a problem–a quick Google search revealed promising possibilities for matzo meal + ground nuts.
If you are not worried about Passover-friendliness, this cheesecake can of course be made with a graham cracker or cookie crust. But shockingly, the matzo meal-based variation I came up with was legitimately tasty. And the filling – creamy and earthy and just sweet enough – was exactly what I hoped for. Oh, and I added candied sweet potato roses on top because, why not? But they’re entirely optional.
This is a very small cheesecake–just six inches in diameter. However, if you, like me, are social distancing by by yourself at home, or even with a few family members, a small cheesecake is probably all you need.
Passover Purple Sweet Potato Cheesecake
A miniature, Passover-friendly sweet potato cheesecake. The crust was adapted from Epicurious.com and the filling is adapted from the blog "My Baking Addiction."
For the crust:
- 1/3 cup matzo meal
- 3/8 cup blanched almonds, lightly toasted
- pinch salt
- 1/3 cup sugar see notes
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
For the filling:
- 8 oz. (1 package) cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 medium purple sweet potato (about 2/3 lb.), baked or roasted until soft
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- large pinch cinnamon
- small pinch ground ginger
- small pinch freshly ground nutmeg
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- sweet potato roses (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a food processer, process the matzo meal and almonds together until the almonds are finely ground. Add the sugar, pinch salt, and melted butter, and process until the mixture is evenly moist and starts to clump together.
Press the crust mixture onto the bottom and at least one inch up the sides of a 6-inch springform pan. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes, until set and starting to brown. Allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
Scoop out the flesh of the roasted sweet potato, and either puree in a food processor or blender, or press through a food mill. Set aside.
Crack the egg into a small bowl, lightly beat it, and set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add the sugar and continue beating until the sugar is thoroughly and evenly incorporated.
Turn the stand mixer speed to low, and add the lightly beaten egg, a little bit at a time, scraping down the bowl periodically, beating until the egg is fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
Beat in the vanilla extract, spices, and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream.
Wrap the springform pan with the crust in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil — you re going to bake the cheesecake in a hot water bath and this is to make sure that no water seeps in.
Scrape the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust — unless your springform pan is pretty deep (mine is not), you will not be able to fit all of it in. But don't be afraid to fill it close to the top of the pan.
(If you don't want to waste the extra, you can bake it separately in a ramekin!)
Place the foil-protected springform pan in a larger pan, and carefully fill the pan halfway with boiling water. Transfer the the pan to the oven, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the filling is set near the edge but there is the *slightest* wobble toward the middle . (The cheesecake will puff up a bit in the oven.)
Turn off the oven, but don't remove the cheesecake. Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and allow the cheesecake to cool in the turned-off oven for one hour.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven, remove the aluminum foil wrapping, and transfer the springform pan to the refrigerator to chill for at least eight hours.
When the cheesecake is fully chilled, carefully release the springform pan sides and transfer the cake to a serving platter. Decorate with candied sweet potato roses if you wish.
-As noted above, depending on the depth of your springform pan, you may not be able to fit in all of the filling. (Mine is about 1.5 inches deep and I had a bit of filling left.)
-The depth of your pan will also affect how long the cheesecake needs in the oven. Mine was done (perhaps a bit overdone) at 35 minutes, but I recommend checking at 30 minutes.
-For the crust, I used half granulated sugar and half raw cane sugar, but you could use all granulated sugar, all brown sugar, or whatever you have on hand.
Candied Sweet Potato Roses
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
Preheat oven to 225 F.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Lightly grease a mini muffin tin.
Peel the sweet potato, cut it in half, and then cut each piece in half again, so that the cut side of the sweet potato quarter is shaped like a half moon. Use a swiss vegetable peeler to peel half-moon strips of sweet potato.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is simmering.
Add the sweet potato half-moons to the pan of simmering sugar syrup, and cook for 5 minutes.
Transfer the sweet potato half-moons to the two parchment lined baking sheets, laying them flat in a single layer.
Bake the sweet potato half-moons at 225 F for 10 minutes.
Remove the baking sheets from the oven. Take a sweet potato half-moon, and roll it into a rosette, now take another half-moon and roll it around the first, slightly overlapping the two pieces. Continue with additional half-moons until you've formed a large sweet potato "rose." Transfer the sweet potato rose to one of the cups in the mini muffin tin.
Repeat the remaining sweet potato half-moons, forming several additional roses–this could be anywhere from 5 to 20, depending on how much sweet potato you started with and how big your roses are.
Transfer the sweet potato roses, in the mini muffin tin, to the oven, and continue baking for an hour, or until the roses are dry and crisp. Turn off the oven and allow them to dry out further for at least an hour or as long as overnight.