Ever since I first thought to make a butternut squash cheesecake, with practically every vegetable I get, I wonder, "will it cheesecake?" When it comes to fennel, the answer is a resounding YES. But I didn't want a recipe that would mask the fennel - cover it's delicate flavors up under mounds of sugar and cream. I wanted something that would honor the fennel, and show off its anise-y goodness in all its glory.
I promise you that you can not miss the fennel flavor in the recipe below. Also, it's amazingly delicious!
3 8oz packages cream cheese (softened)
1 1/4 C sugar
1 C fennel puree
1 C cream
1 pkg graham crackers
4 Tbs butter, melted
1 tsp fennel seeds
Preheat oven to 325. Crush the graham crackers, add melted butter and seeds, and press into the bottom of a 9" spring-form pan.
Make the fennel puree. I did this via a completely frankenstein method, because I was trying a bunch of things to see what worked best. What I recommend is this: dice the fennel and add to a saucepot with some water and 2 Tbs butter. Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Cook until the fennel gets pretty soft, maybe 20 minutes or so, and add water as needed throughout. Your goal is to boil off most of the liquid by the time the fennel is soft enough to blend so that you are adding just the fennel and maybe a tsp or so of concentrated water to the blender. Blend with the juice of the lemon.
In a stand mixer, mix the cream cheese and sugar until soft and well-incorporated. Add puree, and continue mixing. Add eggs, one at a time, then cream and salt. Pour mix into prepared pan.
Bake for 60 minutes. When done baking, leave in the oven with the door shut for another hour. Let set for at least 4 hours in your refrigerator.
- Christiana Thomas