Serves 4 to 8
This Bavarian (actually a variation on cheesecake) can be made in one deep 6-inch springform or similar cheesecake-style pan or, as the student chefs demonstrated in Robert Mason's class at the Institute of Technology, with 4 individual pudding molds. The student chefs also made their own fromage blanc (see recipe at left).
Adapted from a recipe by Elizabeth Prueitt of the Tartine Bakery, San Francisco.
For nut base:
3 tablespoons toasted pistachio nuts, chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
10 ounces fromage blanc
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Zest from 1/2 lemon
Zest from 1/4 orange
1/3 cup apricot jam
Evenly distribute the chopped nuts over the bottom of the vessel. Gently shake the pan back and forth to fill in any gaps. Do not grease.
To make the filling, combine 1/4 cup water and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and let cool until warm to touch.
Combine the sugar syrup and egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl over a double boiler; water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture, whisking often, until it thickens and registers 180 degrees on a thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 2 tablespoons water and let stand for a few minutes to soften. When the egg yolk mixture is ready, remove from the water bath, add the softened gelatin, and whisk until smooth. The mixture must now be cool to the touch. You can cool it by nesting it in a larger bowl filled with ice and water or by putting it in the refrigerator. In either case, you must stir it with a rubber spatula or whisk so that the gelatin does not begin to set up unevenly.
In a large bowl, combine the fromage blanc and 1/4 cup cream and stir to break up and soften the cheese. Using a mixer or a whisk, whip the remaining 1 1/4 cups cream until it holds soft peaks.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg yolk mixture into the cheese, and then fold in the lemon juice and zests. Finally, fold one-third of the whipped cream to lighten the mixture, and then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until it is fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
Transfer the filling to the vessel using a pastry bag, being careful to leave about 1/2 inch from the top for the apricot topping. Cover with plastic wrap, being careful the plastic doesn't touch the tops.
To glaze, keep the Bavarian in the refrigerator until the moment you are ready to glaze the top. Put the jam in a small saucepan over medium heat. Depending on how thick it is, you may need to thin it with a little water. Stir to help melt the lumps, remove from the heat, pour it through a medium sieve, and let cool until it is still liquid and warm. It must not be too hot to the touch, or it will melt the surface of the Bavarian.
Working quickly, spoon the jam onto the tops and smooth if necessary. Return to the refrigerator for the jam to set, approximately 30 minutes.
Note: Other flavors of jam and other varieties of nuts may be used.