PASTRY CHEF KAT JOHNSON of the innovative bistro Kitchen 4140 marries fresh-from-the-garden zucchini with the sweet richness of cheesecake and a nutty crust. Serve the unusual dessert with a simple sprinkle of roasted pecans or a drizzle of vanilla crème anglaise.
Mascarpone Zucchini Cheesecake
2 packages graham crackers
1 ½ cups pecans
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 cup butter
1. Put the graham crackers, pecans and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until reduced to crumbs. Pour into a mixing bowl.
2. Melt the butter in a microwave or over low heat. Add to the crumb mixture and stir to combine thoroughly.
3. Put the crumb mixture into a 10-inch spring form pan and press to form an even crust covering the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
16 ounces mascarpone cheese
8 ounces cream cheese
1½ tablespoons flour
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 zucchini, puréed
4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1. Put the mascarpone and cream cheeses in a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, cream together until smooth.
2. Sift the flour and sugar together and add to the cheese mixture. Mix until combined. Stir in the vanilla and lemon juice. Add the puréed zucchini.
3. Beat in the eggs and yolks one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
4. Pour the cheese mixture into the spring-form pan. Wrap the pan in aluminum foil and place the wrapped pan inside a larger pan. Add enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.
5. Place in a preheated 350-degree oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. The sides will be firm but the center will still jiggle slightly. Remove from oven and cool. Refrigerate for 90 minutes before serving.