Let's take care of the big mystery first: What the hell is a Minneola? I had the same question when I saw them in the market. Whaaaa? Turns out, they are a tangelo, a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. Filled with sweet, tart juice, these babies are nicknamed "Honey Bell" because of their shape.
So two were sitting in my fridge for awhile before I had the idea of turning them into a cheesecake. Glad I did. This creamy dessert turned out to taste like a giant almond creamsicle.
I wanted this cheesecake to be epic and knew I needed to adapt a good recipe from an expert. After searching awhile I settled on this Lemon Cheesecake Recipe from one of the most mouth watering blogs out there, Creative Culinary. Barbara claims this came from a Junior League recipe cookbook. Whatever. All I know is the recipe is major league in taste and it ain't no Junior's cheesecake. No offense meant to the legendary Junior's.
This cheesecake has five separate elements to make so it's not for baking sissies or those with time constraints. The fifth element was added by me. I candied the Minneola rinds to use as edible decorative scatter across the top of the finished cheesecake. That step is optional. I wanted to squeeze (ha!) everything I could out of those citrus lovelies before dumping the remains in the trash.
The crust is where where I used my one shortcut in this whole process. It was created with store bought amaretti cookies. The amaretto flavor rocked it and I would not use anything else in the future.
I used up two complete fruits with zest and rind in making this cheesecake. Minneola juice and zest was used in the batter and the remaining peels were candied. This makes a very large cheesecake. After it's initial purpose as a much lauded dinner party dessert, slices were sent off to various friends and family. So the large size made made more people happy. Spreading the cheesecake love. That's what I do.
Minneola Cheesecake with Amaretti CrustFor the Amaretti Crust:
- 2 1/4 cups amaretti cookie crumbs
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- Dump the cookies into a food processor and pulse until they have turned to crumbs.
- Combine cookie crumbs, sugar, butter and extract.
- Press into bottom and 1/2" up sides of an 11 to 12 inch springform pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
- Cool completely before adding filling.
For the Minneola Cheesecake Batter:
- 3 eight ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups white granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed minneola juice (You will need 2 minneolas for this entire recipe)
- 1 teaspoons orange extract
- 2 teaspoons grated minneola rind
- Beat cream cheese in mixer until completely smooth.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.
- Gradually add the sugar, then minneola juice and vanilla.
- Stir in minneola rind.
- Pour into cooled amaretto crust and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
For the Orange Sour Cream Topping:
- 1 pint sour cream
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tsp orange extract
- Blend sour cream, sugar and orange extract for topping.
- Remove cake from oven.
- Gently spread sour cream over top of cake.
- Return to oven and bake about 12 minutes.
- Cool on rack for 30 minutes.
- Refrigerate until topping is cool but not completely chilled.
For the Minneola Amaretto Glaze:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup amaretto
- a dab of orange paste color
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed minneola juice
- Combine sugar and cornstarch, blending in water and minneola juice until smooth.
- Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened.
- Cook 3 minutes.
- Chill until cool but not set.
- Spread top of cheesecake with minneola amaretto glaze.
- Chill several hours or overnight. After setting in the fridge, I kept mine in the freezer.
For the Candied Minneola Peels:
(adapted from How to Make Candied Lemon Peels from The Shiksa in the Kitchen)
- Minneola Rinds
- 2 cups white granulated sugar plus more for coating the finished peels.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place a bowl of sugar along side.
- Using a sharp knife ,slice the peels into little pieces.
- Insert the knife between the pith (white bitter part) and the skin of the peel and scrape as much of the white off as you can.
- Place peels in a saucepan and cover with water.
- Bring to a boil, drain, re-cover the peels with water and bring to a boil again.
- Repeat this process at least two times.
- After the last round, rinse the peels and set aside.
- Bring 3 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar to a boil.
- When the sugar as dissolved, add the peels to the sugar water.
- turn down the heat and let simmer about an hour and a half. the peels will be transparent when done.
- Drain the peels. The Shiksa recommends you save the syrup to add to drinks. I did that.
- Spread the peels out on the baking sheet.
- Dip each peel piece in the sugar and return to the baking sheet.
- When all have been sugar coated, let dry for a couple of hours.