Sweet Things
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Zesty Passion Fruit Cheesecake with a Red Velvet Crust

I loved them with a fierceness. Ferociously, constantly, and unconditionally. Tiger and Butterbear. They came to me for my second Christmas, and were my companions for years. I bestowed upon them priority of place and deference of position. Accompanying me everywhere, they enjoyed the sunlight and weathered storms. Butterbear once found herself hanging upside down from Granny’s clothesline, sodden and heavy with washwater. Knowledge of what soiled her is lost to me, banished by the heart-wrenching feelings at seeing her lumpy and dripping wet, upside down on that line.


When Valentine’s Day rolls around, there’s conflicting responses: some rail against consumerism, staunchly insisting it’s a manufactured holiday to create profit; others focus on and celebrate the romantic love in their life; and still others recognize and appreciate the various forms love takes. Each of these responses is legitimate and valid, and I’ve found myself with each point of view at one point or other in my life, but I prefer to be in the third camp. No matter the numerous historical origin stories, or the commercialization of the holiday today, it still presents an opportunity to stop and acknowledge the love in your life: to hand out cartoons to your classmates, send a card to your parents, pamper your pets, or deliver a bouquet to your paramour. Even, I daresay, to remember your childhood, to acknowledge your companions who, though inanimate, nevertheless provided an outlet for your growing capacity for love.


This cheesecake has three layers: the red velvet base represents my foundation—my family—warm, loving, and consistent; the zesty filling is for those who bring happiness and adventures to my life, my friends and neighbors, the strangers who perform random acts of kindness; and the passion fruit top is for the one great love of my life, who brings meaning to it all, provides the ultimate adventure, and who happens to love cheesecake. Happy Valentines Day!


The filling for this cheesecake was adapted from a Key Lime Cheesecake on Epicurious, which I would highly recommend the original version of as well. I’ve made it several times with great success!


This makes a small cheesecake; I used a 19cm (7.5in) spring form pan. If you want a large standard-sized cake, double the recipe.


For Crust:
60g (1/2 cup) crushed vanilla cookies
90g (1 cup) almond meal
1 teaspoon cocoa
57g (1/4 cup) melted butter
1 tablespoon red food coloring
For Filling:
226g (8oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
75g (1/3 cup) white sugar
1 egg
zest of two clementines
For Top Layer:
226g (8oz) crème fraiche (or sour cream)
Pulp of four passion fruits
1 tablespoon white sugar


Preheat the oven to 180C/355F. Mix the crust by combining crumbs, almond meal, and cocoa and stir until well mixed. Whisk the food coloring into the melted butter, then pour it into the dry ingredients. Stir until everything is evenly moistened, then press the mixture into the bottom a 19cm (7.5in) spring form pan. Bake about 7 minutes until set, then remove it from the oven and let it cool completely. Maintain the oven temperature.

Whisk together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and orange zest. Carefully pour the mixture into the cooled crust and smooth evenly. Bake about 20-25 minutes, until the it has almost set but the center is still a bit wobbly.

Meanwhile, whisk together the crème fraiche, passion fruit pulp, and sugar. Smooth the mixture over the hot cheesecake, and return it to the oven to bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely, then chill.

Run a knife carefully around the edge to loosen and prevent pulling before removing the ring. Serve chilled, and refrigerate leftovers.


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  1. Christmas of 1985…. Butterbear, cheesecake, and true love; a rich story indeed.

    • Kristin says

      One never knows the path a life will take, or the impact of small things on the greater scheme of things 🙂

    • Kristin says

      The passionfruit seeds give it a nice crunch! In addition to the fantastic flavor 🙂 Thanks so much for your nice comment!

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