Here's an easy, delicious and totally adorable dessert to do this weekend, fromage blanc cheesecake, baked into cute little jars. You can make it even more lovely by topping with roasted fruits, in this case I use tangy sweet nectarines scented with lemon verbena. Nothing stops you from making this your own by using a combination of fruits, herbs, and even nuts of your choice. What makes this cheesecake truly special, besides its oh-my-god-this-is-adorableness quality, is the luscious texture, like caressing you with satin, and the fact that you can make it by pretty much dumping all the ingredients in your food processor.
This is also a recipe that exemplifies my thieving ways as a cook. I lift ideas, recipes, presentation tricks and others from cook books, kind friends, talented chefs I know, and restaurants I love, to mix, match, and generally muck with them until I come up with something I can roughly call my own. I'm a polite thief, mind you, I always give credit to those I borrow from. For this one, the fromage blanc cheesecake recipe is adapted from the one given to me by my friend Mark Denham, whose new restaurant Bishop cannot open fast enough for me. (Later this year he said.) The idea to serve it in a jar is shamelessly cribbed from another friend, the Manresa pastry chef Deanie Hickox. Deanie has been doing a cheesecake-in-a-jar dessert for ages. I adore the idea, but her recipe requires things that are not widely available for home cooks, so I adapted Mark's instead.
So there, that's how this recipe came to be. It might just be the summer dessert for me this year. It can be made well in advance, and used as a blank canvas to play up a variety of poached/roasted/stewed fruits. You can even top with store-bought preserves directly from the jar. Fresh berries, perhaps macerated briefly with a bit of sugar, lemon juice, and/or liquor would do very well too. Also good with this, my strawberries in hibiscus and vanilla syrup.