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Angie Mar lightens the cream cheese classic with tangy goat cheese
Milk Street Bowtie Chèvre Cheesecake with Black Pepper–Graham Crust

Chèvre Cheesecake with Black Pepper–Graham Crust

Appears in July-August 2020

2½ hours 40 minutes active, plus cooling and refrigerating

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Chèvre Cheesecake with Black Pepper–Graham Crust

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Angie Mar, chef/owner of Beatrice Inn in New York City, may be best known for her artistry with all things meat, but we’re smitten with her chèvre cheesecake, the recipe for which is found her book “Butcher + Beast.” Made with equal parts chèvre (fresh goat cheese) and cream cheese plus a generous measure of crème fraîche, the cake has the perfect amount of savoriness and tanginess—and a surprisingly light texture despite its richness. In addition to scaling Mar’s recipe to fit into a standard 9-inch springform, we mixed lemon zest into the filling to lift the flavor and add citrusy notes that play off the black pepper in the crust. The best way to gauge doneness of the cake is with an instant thermometer inserted through the side (in the area where the filling has risen above the pan), with the probe angled slightly down and to the center; 145°F to 150°F is the finished temperature. To cut clean slices, warm the knife blade by dipping it into a pitcher of hot water; wipe the blade dry before and after each cut and rewarm it as needed. Covered tightly with foil and refrigerated, the cheesecake keeps well for up to four days, though the crust softens over time.

12-16

Servings

Tip

Don’t forget to allow the cheeses to warm to cool room temperature before mixing. If they’re refrigerator-cold, the filling is more likely to wind up with lumps. Note that this recipe involves multiple oven settings: 300°F, 450°F, off (with the cake still inside and the door propped open) and 250°F. Don’t forget to run a knife around the cheesecake after the cake has cooled for 10 minutes—this helps prevent cracking.

2½ hours

40 minutes active, plus cooling and refrigerating

7 tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled slightly, divided
195 grams (1¾ cups) graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon plus 156 grams (¾ cup) white sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon table salt, divided
454 grams (1 pound) fresh goat cheese (chèvre), cool room temperature
2 8-ounce (226-gram) packages cream cheese, cool room temperature
2 8-ounce (226-gram) containers crème fraîche, cool room temperature
112 grams (⅓ cup) honey
4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, cool room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Ingredients
  • 7

    tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled slightly, divided

  • 195

    grams (1¾ cups) graham cracker crumbs

  • 1

    teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1

    teaspoon plus 156 grams (¾ cup) white sugar, divided

  • ½

    teaspoon table salt, divided

  • 454

    grams (1 pound) fresh goat cheese (chèvre), cool room temperature

  • 2

    8-ounce (226-gram) packages cream cheese, cool room temperature

  • 2

    8-ounce (226-gram) containers crème fraîche, cool room temperature

  • 112

    grams (⅓ cup) honey

  • 4

    large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, cool room temperature

  • 1

    tablespoon grated lemon zest

Directions
  1. 01
    Heat the oven to 300°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Brush the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with 1½ teaspoons of melted butter; reserve the brush. In a large bowl, stir together the cracker crumbs, pepper, 1 teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Add 6 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter and stir until evenly moistened. Transfer to the prepared pan and use the bottom of a ramekin or dry measuring cup to firmly press into an even layer. Bake until the crust is fragrant and golden, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until barely warm, 15 to 20 minutes.
    See Demo
    Chèvre Cheesecake with Black Pepper–Graham Crust Step 1
  2. 02
    Brush the inside walls of the pan with the remaining 1½ teaspoons of melted butter, then set on a rimmed baking sheet. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the goat cheese and cream cheese on medium until creamy, airy and well combined, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl and paddle once or twice. Add the remaining 156 grams (¾ cup) sugar and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, then beat on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl and paddle halfway through.
    See Demo
    Chèvre Cheesecake with Black Pepper–Graham Crust Step 2
  3. 03
    With the mixer on medium-low, gradually add the crème fraîche, followed by the honey. Scrape the bowl and paddle. With the mixer on low, add the whole eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition and scraping the bowl and paddle after the first 2 eggs. Add the yolks and beat until fully incorporated.
    See Demo
    Chèvre Cheesecake with Black Pepper–Graham Crust Step 3
  4. 04
    Detach the bowl from the mixer, and use a spatula to stir in the lemon zest, scraping the bottom of the bowl, until evenly distributed. Pour into the springform pan; the pan may be filled to the rim. If necessary, smooth the surface with the spatula.
    See Demo
    Chèvre Cheesecake with Black Pepper–Graham Crust Step 4
  5. 05
    Bake the cheesecake on the baking sheet for 20 minutes; the filling will have risen above the rim of the pan and the surface will be golden. Turn off the oven and prop open the door with the handle of a wooden spoon for 10 minutes; the surface of the cake will darken slightly during this time.
    See Demo
    Chèvre Cheesecake with Black Pepper–Graham Crust Step 5
  6. 06
    Close the oven door and heat the oven to 250°F. Continue to bake until the center reaches 145°F to 150°F (insert an instant-read thermometer through the side of cake, in the area where it has risen above the pan, with the probe slightly angled down so the tip is at the center of the cake), 35 to 40 minutes.
  7. 07
    Set the baking sheet with the cheesecake on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a narrow-bladed knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen the sides, then cool for 1½ to 2 hours; the cake will deflate slightly as it cools. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, at least 6 hours or up to overnight (if refrigerating for longer than 3 hours, cover tightly with foil after the cheesecake is fully chilled). Remove the pan sides before slicing.
    See Demo
    Chèvre Cheesecake with Black Pepper–Graham Crust Step6
Tip: Don’t forget to allow the cheeses to warm to cool room temperature before mixing. If they’re refrigerator-cold, the filling is more likely to wind up with lumps. Note that this recipe involves multiple oven settings: 300°F, 450°F, off (with the cake still inside and the door propped open) and 250°F. Don’t forget to run a knife around the cheesecake after the cake has cooled for 10 minutes—this helps prevent cracking.
.
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Reviews
Anthony M.
July 1, 2022
The Best Cheesecake
So delicious! Great for special occasions. Serve either on its own or with a dollop of jam.
Michael A.
June 10, 2022
Great cake
It was fun having an excuse to get a spring form pan... You can use this as a template, and modify it to suit your tastes. More or different cheese (the type of goat cheese, but I wouldn't mess with the cream cheese amount), sugar, etc.
Jennifer R.

This has been on my to- make list since it showed up here and, wow, it is delicious. Followed everything exactly as directed and it came out perfectly. Wish I could post a pic. It does have a goat cheese flavor, of course and which I love, but it isn't overpowering and seems more subtle the closer to the edge you get. So, still may be a hit with people who dislike goat cheese. Really wonderful recipe.

Jennifer R.

This recipe was so so good. Very decadent. Despite the seemingly complicated process with the different temperatures, it's not a hard recipe to follow as long as you set some timers! I handed out slices to at least 8 friends and they all loved it. Even the goat cheese hater (though she still prefers a classic one)! I found that the goat cheese flavor was more prominent - far from overpowering but definitely striking enough to appreciate if you love it - toward the center of the cake as opposed to the edges (likely because the center is slightly less cooked). Wouldn't attempt this without a thermometer, though! Will be making again for special occasions (it's a pricey cake!).

Thom S.

Wonderful. The directions were perfect and it's actually very easy to make. The goat cheese I used was quite strong so next time would probably go with a milder chevre but that being said, the goat flavor did not overpower the cake. I made this for a party of eight and everyone loved it.

William H.

There seems to be 1½ teaspoons of butter unaccounted for: In step 1, we brush the bottom of the springform pan 1½ teaspoons of melted butter, and add 6 tablespoons to the graham cracker mixture. In step 2, brush the inside walls of the springform pan (another) 1½ teaspoons of melted butter. That's 1½ teaspoons, plus 6 tablespoons, plus 1½ teaspoons (7 tablespoons total), yet the ingredients list calls for 7½ tablespoons of butter. I realize that this is a minor difference, but calling for that extra ½ tablespoon (1½ teaspoons) of butter seems odd.

Lynn C.

Hi William -

You're right! Thanks for pointing this out to us. We updated the recipe to reflect the proper amount (7 tablespoons).

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Ana Lourdes B.

Dear Milk Street team, I can’t wait to try this recipe, but I’m having trouble finding creme fraiche where I live. I’ve done a bit of research and found that it can be made by mixing heavy whipping cream and buttermilk, I’ve also read that in some cases it could be substituted with sour cream. Anyhow, I’m wondering if you could share with us what would be the best option if we can’t find creme fraiche please? Thank you so much.

Lynn C.

Hi Ana Lourdes -

We would not recommend substituting sour cream for this recipe. Sour cream has less fat and more protein than crème fraîche and, because of this, sour cream curdles when it's heated. It's also more acidic and tangier than crème fraîche, which has a milder, creamier flavor. Although we haven't tested it with homemade crème fraîche, we would probably prefer this route for substitution.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Elisabeth B.

Excellent recipe. I expected it to be weirder than it was, given the goat cheese and the amount of black pepper in the crust, but it just came off as a delicious cheesecake. I usually cut the sugar (in half) in recipes but didn't this time and it was perfect as written. I used a 7" spring form pan and made half the recipe since there are just two of us. The top got too brown and it took much less time to cook than the recipe said, but both may be because it was a half recipe. After 2 hours on the counter and 2 hours in the refrigerator, it was ready to eat (but again, maybe cooled faster because smaller). Thanks!


Down arrow

Chèvre Cheesecake with Black Pepper–Graham Crust

Get Ready to Cook

12-16

Servings

2½ hours

40 minutes active, plus cooling and refrigerating

Tip

Don’t forget to allow the cheeses to warm to cool room temperature before mixing. If they’re refrigerator-cold, the filling is more likely to wind up with lumps. Note that this recipe involves multiple oven settings: 300°F, 450°F, off (with the cake still inside and the door propped open) and 250°F. Don’t forget to run a knife around the cheesecake after the cake has cooled for 10 minutes—this helps prevent cracking.

Ingredients
  • 7

    tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled slightly, divided

  • 195

    grams (1¾ cups) graham cracker crumbs

  • 1

    teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1

    teaspoon plus 156 grams (¾ cup) white sugar, divided

  • ½

    teaspoon table salt, divided

  • 454

    grams (1 pound) fresh goat cheese (chèvre), cool room temperature

  • 2

    8-ounce (226-gram) packages cream cheese, cool room temperature

  • 2

    8-ounce (226-gram) containers crème fraîche, cool room temperature

  • 112

    grams (⅓ cup) honey

  • 4

    large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, cool room temperature

  • 1

    tablespoon grated lemon zest

Step 1 of 7

Prepare and Bake Crust

7
tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled slightly
195
grams (1¾ cups) graham cracker crumbs
1
teaspoon ground black pepper
1
teaspoon white sugar
¼
teaspoon table salt

Heat the oven to 300°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Brush the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with 1½ teaspoons of melted butter; reserve the brush.


In a large bowl, stir together the cracker crumbs, pepper, 1 teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Add 6 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter and stir until evenly moistened.


Transfer to the prepared pan and use the bottom of a ramekin or dry measuring cup to firmly press into an even layer. Bake until the crust is fragrant and golden, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until barely warm, 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 2 of 7

Begin Cheese Mixture

454
grams (1 pound) fresh goat cheese (chèvre), cool room temperature
2
8-ounce (226-gram) packages cream cheese, cool room temperature
156
grams (¾ cup) white sugar
¼
teaspoon table salt

Brush the inside walls of the pan with the remaining 1½ teaspoons of melted butter, then set on a rimmed baking sheet. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F.


In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the goat cheese and cream cheese on medium until creamy, airy and well combined, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl and paddle once or twice.


Add the remaining 156 grams (¾ cup) sugar and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, then beat on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl and paddle halfway through.

Step 3 of 7

Add Crème Fraîche and Honey

2
8-ounce (226-gram) containers crème fraîche, cool room temperature
112
grams (⅓ cup) honey
4
large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, cool room temperature

With the mixer on medium-low, gradually add the crème fraîche, followed by the honey. Scrape the bowl and paddle.


With the mixer on low, add the whole eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition and scraping the bowl and paddle after the first 2 eggs. Add the yolks and beat until fully incorporated.

Step 4 of 7

Pour Mixture into Pan

1
tablespoon grated lemon zest

Detach the bowl from the mixer, and use a spatula to stir in the lemon zest, scraping the bottom of the bowl, until evenly distributed. Pour into the springform pan; the pan may be filled to the rim. If necessary, smooth the surface with the spatula.

Step 5 of 7

Bake Cheese

Bake the cheesecake on the baking sheet for 20 minutes; the filling will have risen above the rim of the pan and the surface will be golden.


Turn off the oven and prop open the door with the handle of a wooden spoon for 10 minutes; the surface of the cake will darken slightly during this time.

Step 6 of 7

Check Cheesecake Temperature

Close the oven door and heat the oven to 250°F. Continue to bake until the center reaches 145°F to 150°F (insert an instant-read thermometer through the side of cake, in the area where it has risen above the pan, with the probe slightly angled down so the tip is at the center of the cake), 35 to 40 minutes.

Step 7 of 7

Cool Cheesecake

Set the baking sheet with the cheesecake on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a narrow-bladed knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen the sides, then cool for 1½ to 2 hours; the cake will deflate slightly as it cools.


Refrigerate uncovered until cold, at least 6 hours or up to overnight (if refrigerating for longer than 3 hours, cover tightly with foil after the cheesecake is fully chilled). Remove the pan sides before slicing.

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