I love the month of June! The days are longer and my flower garden is in full bloom! It is also the time to take the special events in our lives outside for birthday parties, a friend’s bridal shower and later in the summer my son’s college graduation in August! The raspberries and lavender in my garden along with peaches from the farmers’ market were my inspiration to make a seasonal, bite sized dessert that will be a new favorite for our summer celebrations! Hope you love these Lavender Peach Melba Mini Cheesecakes too!
Farmers’ market peaches and raspberries from my garden are two of the stars of these mini cheesecakes!
Besides the raspberries, peaches and lavender in these little cheesecakes, I wanted to do something a little different with the cheesecakes and not use the traditional cream cheese and show you how to make some yogurt cheese. You might not be familiar with yogurt cheese so I wanted to share a little bit about it and show you how to make it because it can come in handy. When I was working with a women’s research study, we taught ladies how to make it as a alternative to cream cheese and sour cream to use for spreads and dips. Another name for yogurt cheese is labneh or what many of us know as Greek yogurt. The liquid portion of whey is removed leaving a thicker yogurt. You can also control how thick you want it depending on what you are going to do with it. For my recipe, I wanted a consistency of a cheesecake batter but it is also very cool to make it really thick like a goat cheese that you can spread on a cracker!
How to make yogurt cheese
You can strain the yogurt in a cheese cloth in a colander and attach it to a bowl so the liquid can drain from it. In the past, I have also used several paper coffee filters along with my coffee filter basket that I washed really well over a mason jar. Many years ago I actually bought a yogurt strainer so that is what I used and I let the liquid drain in a beer pint glass.
Here is a rule of thumb how long that it will take to drain:
- In one hour about 20 % of the liquid will be removed.
- In 3-4 hours about half of the liquid will be removed.
- If you want it really thick, drain for 10-12 hours or even up to 48 hours.
So making yogurt cheese takes a little planning ahead. If you want to make the mini cheesecakes and you are in a time crunch make a blend of Greek yogurt and regular plain yogurt and mix half and half.
A little note about using fresh herbs in desserts
I have recently have been intrigued by the use of fresh herbs paired with fruit and desserts. For years, I have paired fresh herbs with vegetables but had never really thought about until now, how they fit in with something that I have traditionally thought about as sweet. I have used mint in my garden for fruit salad and summer drinks. And I have also used lavender in lemonade, shortbread cookies and these little cheesecakes. But why not try basil, sage, chamomile, rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro and tarragon?
Pairing fresh herbs with fruit and desserts can be a great way to add flavor without too much sweet. It gives a savory complexity that can be the focus! I really like that idea and look forward to exploring it some more!
Lavender Peach Melba Mini Cheesecakes
If you don’t have fresh lavender available, you can use dried lavender but cut the amount you use in half so it does not overpower your cheese cakes.That would be 1/2 teaspoon dried. I made a gluten free crust made from pecans and coconut. This dessert is refreshing and cool. I love the idea that I can decorate it with the bounty from my garden!
Makes 12 servings
1 teaspoon fresh lavender flowers, crumbled
1 tablespoon local honey
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup fresh raspberries, broken carefully in little pieces
1 large peach (3/4 of it chopped and the rest sliced in thin slices for garnish)
1 cup yogurt cheese (I made my batch from 1 1/2 cup regular yogurt that was drained for 4 1/2 hours)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon rice flour
12 paper cupcake liners
Fresh raspberries, blueberries, and fresh lavender flowers for garnish (in addition to sliced peaches above.
Make raspberry sauce and mix crust. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Make the yogurt cheese at least half a day in advance or the day before. To make the cheesecake mixture: add the thickened yogurt cheese to a bowl, add beaten egg, pinch of salt, rice flour, vanilla and lightly mix. Ann crumbed lavender, broken raspberries and chopped peaches and delicately fold in. Add the cheesecake mixture evenly between the muffin tins over the coconut pecan crust. Bake between 20-25 minutes. You will know when it is ready to take out when the tops are slightly tan and the filling is not wet to touch. Allow the muffin tin to cool on a rack and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the paper cup liner and carefully peel away it away. Add a small dollop of raspberry sauce on each cake. You can decorate ahead of time or just before serving for a fresh just picked look!
I went an extra step to run the sauce through a sieve/colander to remove the seeds from this sauce. This makes the sauce smooth and makes it more palatable for many people. However, I don’t mind the seeds in my raspberry sauce so it is up to you!
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon local honey
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon arrowroot starch
In a small saucepan, add raspberries, honey, and sugar. In a small cup, add 1 tablespoon of arrowroot with 1/2 tablespoon water. Heat until sauce is bubbly. Add arrowroot slurry. Remove from heat and cool. This is the sauce that you will top over the cheesecakes.Cool in refrigerator.
Coconut Pecan Crust
3/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 tablespoon butter or tub margarine (do not use diet)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Add pecans and coconut in food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth but still has a little bit of texture. Place in a small bowl and add pinch of salt and butter/tub margarine. Line the muffin tin with paper liners and carefully pat the mixture evenly in the bottom of each liner. Await for the addition of the filling so these cups can be baked. See above.
I hope that your family and friends adore these new little cheesecakes and that they are so easy to make that you will have them on hand for all your gatherings! Good things come in small packages and sometimes a little bit of something flavorful can go a long ways to be satisfying. As a registered dietitian nutritionist in Asheville NC, I love to come up with delicious recipe and menu ideas to help my clients improve their quality of life. If you are new to the Vine Ripe Nutrition blog, welcome & if you have come back to see what’s cooking and coming up in my garden, I am so glad you came back over and please send your family and friends! You can also check what I have going on on facebook, twitter, instagram and pinterest for even more fresh summer ideas! Please also check out some other mini dessert recipes from my friends at Recipe Redux below and you will be all set with an abundance of creative, fun ideas that are healthy too!