Candied Pumpkin Jam and Labneh Cheesecake
This recipe is inspired by three different dishes: the Turkish dish kabak tatlisi, the cheesecake and, of course, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. I do prefer this to the traditional pumpkin pie, as it’s far less sickly sweet. The pumpkin really gets to shine and it also melds well with the zesty labneh and the subtle hint of anise (use both if you want a stronger flavour). It also manages to be refreshingly light without trying too hard. This is not a cheesecake per se, though, since it is made with strained yogurt. When working with phyllo pastry, ensure it is always covered with a moist tea towel as you butter each layer, otherwise it will dry up quickly and become brittle. If you prefer a stronger hint of anise, use star anise.
- 500g/1lb 2oz full-fat Greek yogurt (preferably Fage Total)
- 4 tbsp double cream
- 1–2 star anise, ground
- 700g/1lb 9oz butternut squash or pumpkin, seeds and skin removed and flesh cut into ¾in/2cm cubes
- 250g/9oz/1 heaped cup caster sugar
- pinch of nutmeg
- 60g/21/4oz butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
- 8 sheets of phyllo pastry, thawed if frozen
- 50g/13/4oz/1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4. Put the yogurt, cream and star anise in a mixing bowl and mix well to combine. Secure a colander over a mixing bowl, line the colander with a doubled muslin cloth and pour in the yogurt mixture. Bring the edges of the muslin cloth together to cover the yogurt and then put the colander and bowl in the fridge to strain for about 1 hour.
- Transfer the butternut squash to a mixing bowl, sprinkle over the sugar and nutmeg and toss to combine. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and add the tossed butternut squash mixture with any sugar remaining in the bowl.
- Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes until soft. Switch the oven to a high grill setting and grill the squash for 2 minutes, until the edges are golden and caramelized. Alternatively, transfer the squash to a preheated high grill until golden. Set aside and leave to cool. Keep the oven on.
- Meanwhile, grease and line a 22cm/81/2in diameter, 2in/5cm deep baking tin with parchment paper. Next, use a pastry brush to butter the parchment paper lightly. Add a layer of the phyllo sheets, brush with a little more butter, and then repeat for the remaining sheets, switching the overlying edges to create a balance. Cut off the excess phyllo around the edges and then turn under the edges of the phyllo to form an even edge. Brush all the edges generously. Using baking paper and baking beans, blind bake the pastry case for 10–15 minutes until the edges are a light golden brown. Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Once the butternut squash jam has cooled, scrape it away from the edge of the tin, saving as much of the caramelization as possible.
- Remove the yogurt from the fridge and discard the liquid or whey from the mixing bowl in which the yogurt has been straining. Transfer the yogurt from the muslin cloth into this bowl and then add in half of the butternut squash jam. Mix well to combine and then fill the cavity of the phyllo pie with the mixture, gently spreading it to an even surface. Sprinkle the walnuts over the top and place a good spoonful of the jam in the centre. Serve immediately with extra jam on the side. The jam will also keep well sealed in the fridge for a month and is incredible on buttered toast for breakfast.