Ghent Cheesecake

57 Comments

We have a friend named Ghent. His mama chose the name because she wanted her son to grow up and be a gentleman. Which he is, by the way. She thought the name was unique, but she’d never heard of the city in Belgium, although it’s pronounced with a hard “g.”
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I’ve only been to Belgium once, back when I was 18, which is where I memorably ate mussels for the first time. This was in Brussels. From what I have seen, I need return to explore Belgium and more of its foods.

Recently I came across a Ghent Cheesecake recipe that I’ve saved for years, or Plattekaastarte, which I have no idea how to pronounce. The Flemish language is beautiful, a mixture of French and Dutch. Not enough French to help me out, though!

In any case, this recipe is quite unique, with a yeasted dough for a crust, topped with a layer of applesauce, and then a filling of macaroons and cottage cheese! It’s pictured below from the recipe page.
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I contacted my Dutch blogger friend Stefan, from Stefan Gourmet, to help me figure out what kind of macaroons the recipe listed. He recommended Italian amaretti cookies – for both the texture and almond flavor.

Although I should have listened to Stefan, when I was at recently at a Trader Joe’s I found these cookies, which are from Belgium. They’re spiced a little differently, but because I’ll never know what the cheesecake is really supposed to taste like, without the real macaroons, I figured it couldn’t hurt. But I decided to also use some almond extract for a more almond flavor.
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I ground up the cookies using a food processor. They’re quite pretty cookies.
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So here’s the recipe:
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Ghent Cheesecake

Crust:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup or 2 ounces butter, melted, cooled
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups flour
5 tablespoons applesauce

Filling:
2 eggs, separated
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup crushed macaroons, about 2 1/4 ounces
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds, about 1 ounce
1/4 cup vanilla sugar or 1/4 sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make crust, in a large bowl, stir yeast and sugar into water until dissolved. Stir in milk, egg, salt, and butter.

Beat in 1 cup flour until smooth. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.
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Stir in enough remaining flour to make a medium-stiff dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.


Butter a 9-inch springform pan; set aside.

Roll out dough to a 14-inch circle. Fit into buttered pan. Spread applesauce over bottom. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.


To make filling, beat egg whites until stiff; set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat together egg yolks and cottage cheese; beat in macaroons, 2/3 cup sugar, almonds and vanilla sugar. (I used almond extract and vanilla extract.)

Fold in beaten egg whites. Spread mixture over applesauce. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until golden.

Makes 1 (9-inch) cake.
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I served fruit with it.
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The cheesecake filling is fantastic – you can taste the cookies, the cinnamon and almond flavors, plus it has a meringue-like texture.
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The crust isn’t my favorite part, however. It’s really like a pizza crust, even with the butter and milk.
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Perhaps there could have been some sugar and vanilla in the dough.

But it was fun to finally make this cheesecake. I’m now going to share with Ghent! (And his lovely wife!)
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57 thoughts on “Ghent Cheesecake

  1. Speculoos are a typical Dutch gingerbread style cookie so you will have a much stronger flavour than by using an almond macaroon which is milder in flavour. But no harm in trying. Here, in France, we often use speculoos as a base for cheesecakes. In fact, on my blog, I posted a cheesecake recipe a while ago with a speculoos base.

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  2. Hi Mimi, this is intriguing as I had never heard of plattekaas before. I now understand that it is the Flemish word for cottage cheese (quark). Belgium is a place I usually cross as quickly as possible on the express way, so I am not as familiar with its cuisine as the proximity would suggest (it is less than 2 hours from where I live).
    I have googled some recipes in Flemish, and found many varieties of plattekaastaart. Most of them less elaborate. In the end I found one that is like yours with applesauce: http://wereldsmaken.com/brabantse-platte-kaastaart/
    This recipe specifies to use macarons, “not the Parisian kind, but the regular ones with an almond on top”. I am not sure what that means.
    I agree with you that the filling seems boring like this, which could be fixed by making it thinner I suppose.

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    • Thanks for looking in to the name. It was such an intriguing recipe to me. Especially the layer of applesauce! Without the real cookie I won’t ever to be able to make it properly, but it was fun to try. I remember Brussels well – I think my mother and I stayed three days. I remember “ingang” and “uitgang” at the airport! That’s why I said that there wasn’t enough French to help me out with the language! I can see why you’re usually driving through Belgian, but it looks like such a beautiful country. Are there any vineyards in Belgium?

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  3. Wow, it looks really tasty, and I bet is delicious. I like the crust on cakes, I don’t know why. I am a person that likes more pound cakes over creamy cakes and this is really nice, like a fancy pound cake.

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  4. Lovely and intriguing recipe, Mimi. I’ve been to Belgium many times (Ghent is beautiful), but have never seen anything like this; my best friend is Belgian, I should ask her about it (though she is a Wallon, so she might not know about Flemish cuisine). Speculoos (I have a recipe on the blog for homemade) are almost always used as a base for cheesecake in France. Here in Lille, every coffee you have in a café is served with a speculoos. I love them!
    I bet this cheesecake was delicious, though probably quite different from what it would have been had you used a macaroon. To answer Stefan’s -and maybe your- question, in France, there are all sorts of macarons/macaroons. The Parisian macarons (with a filling) are only one kind; I guess the “plain ones with an almond on top” would be the closest you could get to an amaretto cookie. Have you heard of “macarons de Nancy”? They are a rustic kind of almond cookie, somewhere between a soft and a hard amaretto.
    Funny how you say Flemish is a mixture of French and Dutch… to me, it is more of a Dutch-English mixture, but then I guess we all feel differently, depending on what language we speak best. :)

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    • Actually, my mother is from Nancy, so I will ask her about those almond cookies! Thank you for the information. My husband and I (he speaks Spanish) were in Basque Country in Spain years ago and neither of us could decipher what anyone was saying!!! So I know what you mean about the Dutch-French thing!!!!

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  5. I may be with you on that yeasty crust, but I certainly want to try that filling. Incidentally, I had a friend in college who dated a Zhan. His mother wanted his name to be the French Jean but was afraid no Okie would know how to pronounce it correctly. :) )

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  6. What a fascinating recipe! I’ve never heard of anything like it. I bet the Speculoos cookies were really wonderful in there…

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  7. I am not big on sweet things and dessert on the whole … and cheescake just doesn’t appeal to me in any case .. but this! this sounds really attractive ! Thank you for being so ‘curious’ and enthusiastic with your food. We ‘lazy’ ones piggy back on you with great pleasure !

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  8. That looks so interesting and fabulous! My cooking partner, although Italian, lived in Belgium (and is married to a Belgian) for many years. We have made Speculoos together, last Christmas but I had never heard of this cheesecake.

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    • It is interesting, isn’t it?!! I can’t even reference the cookbook because I’d torn pages out of an ancient soft back book called “International Cooking” or something like that. And there is not information on the pages. Even tried to look for it on Amazon. But in any case, there’s no explanation or extra information on the recipe.

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  9. Hi Mimi, I was intrigued by the title of the post because I’ve been to Ghent (or Gand) and I loved it. As well as I love speculoos. This cheesecake has a really fascinating combination of textures and the look is pretty in its simplicity. Would have liked to taste a piece, I am always on the lookout for different cheesecakes recipes since I am not super fond of the original ones… :-)

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