The combination of chocolate, eggplant and cream cheese sounds unusual, but the finished product is ultra-delicious—and won everyones applause. Teresa Annette Johnston says that as a yoga teacher, she used her intuition to conceive of the idea. The concept of a cheesecake popped into her head, and, keeping in mind that she wanted a gingery mincemeat taste with a mulled wine undertone, she decided chocolate would unify the various flavors. “Then, when I started making it, I just followed my intuition,” she says.
To make Nut Crust: Combine butter, salt and sugar in food processor. Mix until creamy. Add walnuts, and process until ingredients are smooth. Place nut mixture into 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. Using spatula, build up sides, and smooth out bottom to form crust. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325F.
To make Cheesecake Filling: Slice off stem end of large eggplant. Cut off about 2 inches more, and peel. Cut chunk into 1-inch cubes, and place in food processor. Process eggplant, yielding about 1/2 cup eggplant purée. Add eggs, and process. Add salt, sugar and chocolate chips, and process on high speed 1 minute. Add cream cheese and vanilla, and process. Let chocolate bits stay in mixture, as these sink to form bottom cheesecake layer. Pour mixture into nut crust. Slice remainder of eggplant, skin on, into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Wrap in plastic, and set aside.
Bake 55 minutes, or until center is firm. Remove from oven, and cool at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make Sauce: Combine orange and lemon juices, sugar, butter, salt, cloves and chopped ginger in large saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until boiling. Reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally. Place eggplant slices in saucepan, and cook 25 minutes.
Toast walnuts until golden. Remove eggplant slices from sauce mixture, and arrange eggplant attractively on cheesecake, overlapping slices if necessary. Add nuts to sauce.
Spoon 6 tablespoons sauce, including nuts, over eggplant slices. Cover cheesecake in plastic or foil, and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Refrigerate remaining sauce.
To serve, heat sauce over low heat. Using sharp knife, cut cheesecake into 12 portions, and place on plates. Spoon sauce over each serving, and pass.
Like tofu, eggplant has a terrific knack for taking on the flavors of the ingredients around it. Therefore, there is no reason to treat this eggplant-infused cheesecake differently from any other cheesecake. Try it with Inniskillin Niagara Peninsula Vidal Icewine.