Recipe Competition

As part of our festival 2021 Festival we had an amazing line-up of competitors for our first Prickly Pear Festival Recipe Competition. While three finalist competed for the top prize, one recipe stood out. Laura Bauman's Prickly Pear Goat Cheese Cheesecake. Below is a recipe for her winning dish as well as some info about what inspired this tasty treat.

Prickly Pear Goat Cheese Cheesecake Recipe

A fluffy goat cheese and mascarpone cheesecake with hints of vanilla, a buttery graham cracker crust, and a prickly pear swirl topping.

Equipment

  • 10 inch springform pan

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 10 ounces graham crackers (about two cups crushed)
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 package), at room temperature
  • 12 ounces mascarpone cheese (1.5 containers), at room temperature
  • 12 ounces goat cheese (3 4 oz logs)
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup prickly pear syrup
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

For the topping:

  • 1 cup prickly pear simple syrup (equal parts prickly pear juice and sugar)
  • 1/2 packet powdered flavorless gelatin

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray, wrap outside with tinfoil, and set aside.
  2. Pulse the graham crackers to a fine crumb in a food processor. Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse until combined and mixture resembles wet sand.
  3. Pour the crust mixture into the springform pan. Use your hands to press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, coming about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Set aside.
  4. In a stand up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, goat cheese, and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the syrup, flour, and cornstarch until no lumps remain. Pour the mixture into the cheesecake batter along with the vanilla and salt. Beat on medium speed until just combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.
  6. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the springform pan and gently tap the pan on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Put the pan in a waterbath and place on the middle baking rack in the oven.
  7. Bake in a water bath for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the sides of the cheesecake are set. Note that the center will still be slightly jiggly, but should not be sticky on top. Cover with tinfoil if it begins to brown too quickly. 
  8. Allow the cheesecake to cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.  
  9. Pour gelatin powder in 1/2 cup of prickly pear simple syrup. Stir and allow to hydrate. Boil the rest of the syrup then pour over gelatin mixture. Let stand 30 minutes. Then pour over cheesecake. (If syrup has not started to visibly thicken, let it continue to sit. A jelly that is too thin may leak out of the edges of the cheesecake pan.)
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. 
  11. Run a knife around the edge of the pan before releasing the collar.

Laura writes of her recipe: 

The first year I moved to New Mexico I entered the Pie Town Pie Festival with this pie. My secret ingredient was fresh picked, plump and juicy prickly pears from my parents' backyard in Tucson. My pie came in first place in the fruit pie category.

Special Mention

Our two other finalists were Debrilla Ratchford with her Prickly Pear Parfait and young Grayson Baldillez with his Prickly Pear Lemon Bars. 

Thank you to everyone who submitted a recipe!