|Frozen Mango-Mascarpone Cheesecake|
I do love a good cocktail party. From the guests toasting the man of the hour to right down to the fun mix of canapés and the end of the evening liqueur and cigars around the fire, they are, by far, my favorite type of event. And in a year of economic frustration and endless political fear-mongering, sometimes it feels good just to forget all of the craziness and kick back with friends.
My friends Kevin and Steve are Kings of the Cocktail Party and when I was asked to pull one together as a surprise for Steve's “40-somethingth” birthday, I was all in. By the time Steve arrived home, my favorite bartender, Marc, had been behind the bar entertaining guests and I had set out Bacon wrapped Medjool Dates filled with Foie Gras, Strawberries Stuffed with Honey Apricot Goat Cheese, Cornbread Crostini with Grilled Pork Tenderloin and little Caprese Skewers of grape tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. And all of this prepared in the kitchen of my RV. Challenging, yes. Impossible? Apparantly not!
I believe the biggest mistake most people make when trowing a cocktail party is to over-think it. To me, the key elements of a great party are:
- Invite only people who you find fun and entertaining (leave the picky-crabby people at home)
- Play fun music
- Keep the food simple and prep ahead as much as possible
- Buy food from a great source to save time when needed
- If you can afford to hire a server and/or a bartender who will clean up as you go, do it. Money well spent. You can enjoy your own party and will not have to wake up to a disaster the next day.
- And especially, remember: no one but you knows what is being served. If something flops, leave it out and smile.
There are a few things that are just perennial favorites and so easy to execute that I often reinvent them to vary them from occasion to occasion.
One such item is a recipe borrowed from Cove Point Lodge on the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. They serve a ridiculously good Frozen Honey-Cinnamon Mascarpone Cheesecake and I have made it for a number of events.
|Sunset at Cove Point Lodge on Lake Superior|
This time though, when it was requested for a dinner party with friends, I decided to mix it up. The original recipe has a praline crust and is topped with cinnamon that is swirled through the batter. Having a sudden urge for Mango (these things happen to me), I decided to make a Meyer Lemon Cookie Crust, leave out the cinnamon, and swirl in Mango Sorbet. The entire recipe takes about 20 minutes to mix and all you do is pop it into the freezer until firm. Crazy easy and crazy good.
|Ready for the freezer|
Frozen Mango Mascarpone Cheesecake
Don't be afraid to play with this. Make it with a chocolate crust and swirl in caramel and chocolate sauce before freezing. Or make a shortbread crust with a marmalade/lemon curd swirl.
For the Crust
9 oz box Meyer Lemon Cookie Thins (or any lemon shortbread type cookie)
3 oz butter, melted
Place the cookies in a food processor and process until ground. Add melted butter and mix well. Press cookie crust into the bottom of a springform pan.
|Yes, I shop at Trader Joe's but any brand will work|
For the Filling:
1¼ cups whipping cream, whipped
8 oz Cream Cheese
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
(Don't know how so say it? “mass-car-poan” -do not pronounce the 'e' at the end)
13 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
¼ cup Honey or Blue Agave Syrup
1½ pints Mango Sorbet, softened slightly (not liquid)
Whip the Cream, scrape into another bowl and set aside.
Without cleaning the mixing bowl, beat the Cream Cheese and the Mascarpone until soft and well combined. Add the Sweetened Condensed Milk and the Honey or Agave.
Beat until smooth, scraping down the sides a few times.
Fold in the whipped cream until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter onto the crumb crust.
|preparing the Mango Sorbet|
In the same bowl (no need to wash) place the slightly softened Mango Sorbet. Cut into chunks in the bowl if needed. Beat until the Sorbet looks like a similar consistency to the cream cheese mixture. It should be smooth and should mound on a spoon.
|Mixing in the sorbet|
Drop spoonfuls of the sorbet onto the top of the cheesecake. Use a table knife to swirl the sorbet through the cheesecake mixture being careful not to dip into the crust at the bottom. This is done with a folding motion similar to adding the whipped cream but this time leave large streaks of Mango through the batter.
Place the pan or pans in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight. Cover with plastic wrap once the cheesecake is completely frozen. This can be made up to one week in advance and held frozen.
To serve, let the cake sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and cut into slices. Makes 12-16 servings depending on the slice size desired.
- I used 4: 6” springform pans. No Springform? Line a straight sided cake pan with foil and continue. Once frozen you can pull the cheesecake from the pan, remove the foil and cut. Works like a charm.
- Running a large sharp knife under hot water makes for cleaner cutting.
- This recipe is neither low calorie nor low fat. I am a believer in making a great dish and eating less of it vs. modifying it to control calories.