Natasha Pickowicz's Passionfruit Olive Oil Cheesecake

Natasha Pickowicz's Passionfruit Olive Oil Cheesecake

We teamed up with our friend chef Natasha Pickowicz, and Chicago LEGEND Eli's Cheesecake to bring you the olive oil cheesecake of her dreams. (Or go buy one here!)


For the Passionfruit Curd Topping

1 sheet silver-strength gelatin or 1 tsp unflavored gelatin powder

1/2 cup passionfruit puree or 100% passionfruit juice

1 cup sugar

2 tsp cornstarch or tapoica starch

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 eggs 

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp Drizzle (plus more for topping!)

For the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup cake flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 large whole eggs, room temperature

1 large egg yolk, room temperature

3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature

1/2 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

Coconut flakes for dusting

For the Shortbread Crust

12 tbsp cold, unsalted butter

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour


Active Time: 2 hours

Full Time: 12 hours

Serves 1

Start by preparing your curd. To bloom your gelatin, fill a medium bowl with ice cubes, then cover them with water. Slip the gelatin in and let soften until ready to use. 


Melt the sugar. In a medium saucepan, combine the passionfruit puree and 3/4 cup of sugar. Gently bring up to the barest simmer, stirring to lift and dissolve the sugar. Don't let the mixture boil!


Activate the cornstarch. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the cornstarch, and the salt. Add a ladleful of the hot passionfruit syrup and whisk to form a paste-like slurry. Pour the slurry into the saucepan and whisk well. Cook for 1 minute to thicken, no longer.


Make the custard. In the bowl you just used for the cornstarch, combine the whole eggs, egg yolks, and remaining 3 tbsp sugar. Whisk well to combine. While whisking the egg mixture constantly, stream in several ladlefuls of the hot passion fruit syrup. Transfer the warmed egg mixture to the pan and stir constantly with a spatula over medium heat until the mixture is thickened enough to thickly coat the back of your spoon and the foam has melted away, 3 to 4 minutes, then remove from the heat. (Overcooking the curd can actually "break" the cornstarch and loosen the mixture.) Wring the excess water from the bloomed gelatin and whisk it until it has fully melted into the custard, or scrape in the powdered gelatin mixture and stir to combine. 


Finish the curd. Whisking constantly, stream in the Drizzle until well combined. Pass the curd through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl. Press a small piece of plastic wrap directly on the curd as it cools. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.


Now time to make your cheesecake crust! Begin by fitting a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, and cream your butter and confectioner's sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.  


Add the salt and vanilla and beat on a low speed until the mixture is fully incorporated. Then add the flour and beat on a low speed until it's fully incorporated and the dough comes together. 


Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours. 


Preheat the oven to 350F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Use the pan as a template and trim the dough to fit the pan. 


Grease the pan and carefully lay the dough disc inside, pressing down to evenly fit. Dock the dough using a fork to ensure even baking.


Place the pan in the center of the oven on the middle shelf. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. 


Now time to bring it all together! In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the stand mixer to prevent lumps from forming.


In a separate medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cake flour, and salt. Stir until well combined.


Add the contents of the medium mixing bowl to the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the stand mixer bowl and continue beating on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.


Reduce mixer speed to low. Slowly add the whole eggs and then the egg yolk to the bowl, one at a time. After adding each, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Continue beating on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is fully incorporated. 


Add the sour cream and the scraped vanilla bean (or extract) to the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on low for 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth. The mixture should be well blended, but not overbeaten. 


Preheat the oven to 375F and grab your crust! Now you can fill your prepared crust pan with the batter. Use an offset spatula to smooth the batter down until it's level. 


Place the filled pan in the center of the oven, directly on the middle shelf. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the cakes 180 degrees to ensure browning. The cakes should be starting to souffle and should be light in color. Continue to bake for 10 minutes more, for a total of 40 minutes at 375F. 


Reduce oven temperature to 250F and leave the oven door slightly ajar. The cakes should be golden brown and slightly souffled on the sides. Leave the cake in the oven for 10 minutes more. (This will prevent cracking!). Give the cake a gentle shake—it's done if the center jiggles but the surface is slightly firm. 


Turn off the oven and leave the door open. Leave the cake there for 10 minutes more before removing and setting aside to cool for about 1 hour. 


Once cooled to room temperature, loosen the cheesecake from the springform pan by sliding an offset spatula around the inside rings. Remove the springform pan from the cake and transfer to a plate. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.


After your cake is nice and cool, time for the fun part: ASSEMBLY! Top the cake with a generous layer of passionfruit curd, followed by a topping of Drizzle and a dusting of coconut flakes. Enjoy!