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A Duo of Sweet and Savory Cheesecake for High Tea

August 28, 2012 by Joan Nova in 5 Star Foodie Makeover Cooking Group, Desserts, Finishing Touches, Food Challenge, Recipe Development | 25 Comments

This month’s 5 Star Makeover Challenge is “high tea”. High Tea?  I don’t even own a teapot. Never did. On the very rare occasion I drink hot tea, I pop a mug with water and a teabag in the microwave.

… I don’t make pastries or eat gooey sweets either and I haven’t eaten white bread since I lost my baby teeth. That was a long time ago. These days, I’m more a ‘vino y tapas‘ kind of gal.

This was not a challenge I embraced immediately. God Save the Queen! And FOODalogue.

After the initial trepidation subsided and I unknotted my knickers, I came up with a plan. “Carry on”, I counseled myself.

But, first, I thought I’d share my usual modus operandi for challenges:

  1. Consider what food ingredients I have on hand that fit the theme.
  2. Create an original dish within the challenge parameters.
  3. … that I want to eat!
  4. Consider the presentation.

A peek around the kitchen revealed various cheeses, assorted fruits + vegetables, nuts and fresh herbs so I got the idea to do mini tea-service cheesecakes.

The next hurdle was how to present it. I keep a pretty contemporary home and didn’t think I had any photo props befitting the experience of this regal event.

Seek and ye shall find, they say and I did. I surprised myself when I remembered a treasured brocade and tasseled table cover I’d hung on to (even though I no longer used it) and those church sale plates and cups I spoke about once before. Two souvenir Rolex spoons from Geneva completed the tablescape. 

While I doubt Harrod’s would feature my tableware — even in the basement clearance section (if they have one), I was satisfied. Albeit, not gobsmackedIt added an element of ‘old world’ which is what I associate with ‘high tea’.

 Duxelle and Fennel Cheesecake

The key to the success of this dish was mixing the duxelle throughout, not just on top which was my original thought. It was super delicious, rich and savory, and I will definitely be making it again.

  • mushrooms, leek and fennel sauteed in butter, olive oil, white wine, s+p; save a few mushroom slices for topping, mince everything else;
  • blend with mix of part-skim milk ricotta, crumbled herbed goat cheese and beaten whole egg;
  • bake in muffin molds at 350 for about 20-30 minutes till set. Serve room temperature.

Finishing Touch: fennel fronds, parsley and dill oil. A sprinkle of porcini salt on top adds a bit of crunch.

 No-Bake Hazelnut and Black Plum Cheesecake

  • crust of ground hazelnuts packed in square metal mold about half way up;
  • for the topping, mix part-skim ricotta and a little Greek yogurt (to smooth it out) with a dash of sugar-free hazelnut flavoring syrup;
  • top with sliced black plum and refrigerate immediately.

Finishing Touch: black plum sauce made by blending fresh plum, a dollop of Greek yogurt and a dash of hazelnut syrup; add a sprinkling of ground hazelnuts.

♬ Two for tea, and tea for two ♫

Note: The tea in the cup is Peach-Mango Green Tea by Crystal Light which, while not traditional, is my favorite lunchtime beverage.

Thanks once again to Natasha and Lazaro for a jolly good challenge. The whole tea party will be presented in a round-up on Friday at 5 Star Foodie.

Prior FOODalogue challenge entries here.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. bellini says:

    I’d say your tea party is “a bit of alright” Joan. You captured a “tea” I would like to attend. So “mash” that tea and pour me a “spotta” and I’ll be over shortly.

  2. Patty says:

    Beautiful savory and sweet cheesecakes, I would say your tea party was a grand success;-)
    Patty recently posted..Caramel Apple JamMy Profile

  3. My favorite is de Duxelle..a bit of art there with that one…any left over…
    Platanos Mangoes & Me! recently posted..Té para Dos o Más- Tea for Two or MoreMy Profile

  4. Faith says:

    What a beautiful tea, Joan! That savory cheesecake in particular sounds delicious!
    Faith recently posted..Creamy Pasta Salad with Bacon, Peas, & Bell PeppersMy Profile

  5. Oh not one but 2 cheesecake treats. Yum. And great presentation. I do not own a tea pot either.
    Evelyne@cheapethniceatz recently posted..5 Star Makeover Tea Party: Salmon Duo Napoleon with Crême FraicheMy Profile

  6. Marie says:

    I’m still trying to get over the fact you don’t eat pastries! I bet I could bring you over to the “dark side”! The last time I had tea was when I had the flu.
    Your creativeness shined through again!
    Marie recently posted..Champagne GrapesMy Profile

  7. Such lovely mini cheesecakes! I adore savory cheesecakes, and great combination with plums and hazelnuts in your sweet one!

  8. Well done, Old Chap. Oh, no that’s not what I should say. The cheesecake is outstanding idea. I on the other hand have a real English tea set, etc. and my post is so lame. BTW, I drink a cup of green tea every morning when I wake up. Then I have my cappuccino. I have all kinds of teas and it scares me because my grandmother was a tea drinker only and I’m turning into her.
    angela@spinachtiger recently posted..Espresso Frosting for Dark Chocolate CakeMy Profile

  9. Laz says:

    Love the fact that there are no recipes, I can relate.

    Loving the mushroom, leek, and fennel flavor profile. Also appreciate the fennel fronds & porcini salt.

    Save one for me.

  10. I want to have tea with you guys! Beautiful recipes, Joan. I don’t know which is my favorite, but I am leaning toward the savory. Great ingredients. I, too, can relate to the way you approach recipes; I just can’t do it for my classes, but in my home…
    Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Two Italian-Inspired SaladsMy Profile

  11. I’d join you for tea time with that cheesecake! Nice work and like the way it all came together. I kind of function like that, too. No white bread here. No cookies… etc…
    Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ recently posted..Agua de Jamaica {Hibiscus Tea Water}My Profile

  12. Shannon says:

    I don’t have a tea pot or proper tea cups!! but i still enjoy tea, out of large mugs too :) both of those treats look fantastic, especially the no-bake cheesecake. especially when it’s so hot in my kitchen!
    Shannon recently posted..Strawberry Basil SconesMy Profile

  13. Liz says:

    As you know, I am a tea drinker. However, my tea times never have such wonderful accompaniments. Both look great, but the savory would be my favorite. As always, your creativity shines!

  14. Great innovation… love the set up and the idea of making it work without a lotta hoopla and fuss. The cheesecake looks deadly!
    A Canadian Foodie recently posted..Cabécou (“Little Goat”): A Classic Fresh French Goat Cheese Made at HomeMy Profile

  15. sippitysup says:

    I can see you “maintained a stiff upper lip” under great duress! Carry on indeed! GREG
    sippitysup recently posted..The Allure of the Swank Cocktail: The Cucumber GimletMy Profile

  16. Katie says:

    I daresay that the Queen would approve. I’ll be over at 4:30pm for my cuppa.
    Katie recently posted..La famosa tarta pascualina de mi amiga Marta | Marta’s Famous Spinach PieMy Profile

  17. Born27 says:

    I kind of function like that,Both of yours looks really great…Thanks a lot for sharing..
    Born27 recently posted..Business conference callMy Profile

  18. Robin Sue says:

    Now that you mention it I do remember I had done a few tea treats when Prince William and Kate married and you confessed that you were not into “tea” so I know that this was not your thing. “Oh boy what will Joan do?” WWJD! But you really added your own flair and stayed true to your style of cooking which I think is what makes you such a great cook. Those dishes came in handy again! The dessert looks delicious and I like that it is not too sweet. Well Done!
    Robin Sue recently posted..Giveaway: 2 Big Red Kitchen Mason Jar Starter Kits including Big Red Kitchen’s new Cookbook “Glass is in Session- Back to School Mason Jar Meals”My Profile

  19. Victoria says:

    For someone who doesn’t own a tea pot, you did a pretty awesome job making a spread for afternoon tea that any tea-lover would be proud of! I especially love your savory cheesecake!
    Victoria recently posted..Mango Tarte TatinMy Profile

  20. Lori Lynn says:

    Adorably written Joan!
    Love the two types of cake, they really complement each other.
    And the table cover works perfectly in your photos.
    These makeovers are so much fun, aren’t they?
    Lori Lynn recently posted..please come for tea & sherryMy Profile

  21. Good job with presenting two choices of cheesecakes for the tea party, Joan! I would normally go for a sweet treat, but I love the sound of duxelle and fennel together that this time I would have to make an exception and go for your savory one. Despite not liking tea, I’m happy that you decided to take on that British adage to ‘Stay calm and carry on’ for this challenge! ;)
    Maya@Foodiva’s Kitchen recently posted..5-Star Makeover – Bakewell Tart Samosas and Sticky Toffee Pudding PursesMy Profile

  22. deana sidney says:

    May I say I am very jealous at your sale finds… how I love amethyst glass!!! The table scape is perfect for the tea party. Love both your dishes… nothing like no bake for the last days of summer. But the savory cheesecake has my eye too… so many good things in it.
    deana sidney recently posted..Claridges Tea Time and Strawberry FraisiersMy Profile

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