Baked Labneh Cheesecake with Quince
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Baked Labneh Cheesecake with Quince

The inspiration for this cheesecake recipe came from the unmistakable scent of ripe quince. These wobbly, bobbly fruit have a fragrance like no other. Pop a bowl of these golden orbs in a bowl and your room will smell like musk, ripe pear, violet and milky coconut – think of heady Arabian oud. I wanted a recipe which nodded towards the fruit’s Middle Eastern roots and perfume. 

Quince are part of the rose family and native to Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Turkey and Syria where it’s still commonly used in both sweet and savoury dishes. With their distinctive tartness which mellows to a fragrant sweetness when poached, quince are the ideal fruit to balance a rich, creamy dessert such as a cheesecake. 

Baked cheesecake recipes are often intimidating, with the inclusion of water baths, sour cream toppings and long, slow cooking times which often result in sunken centres. This is a no-fuss baked cheesecake recipe which has all of the same richness as a New York-style cheesecake. 

I use labneh as part of the filling in this recipe as it is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisine so compliments the roots of quince fruit. Labneh is a perfect substitute for cream cheese which is more traditionally used in cheesecake recipes. Labneh has a very similar consistency to cream cheese, but with a little more tang, flavour complexity and probiotic value! 

This isn’t a difficult dessert to make, but requires time and forward planning. You could use shop-bought labneh or make your own which is a lot cheaper. I would suggest making the labneh the day before or better still, prepare it just before bed so that it’s ready for you to use the following morning. To get the 250g of labneh required, you’ll need to start with 425g of Greek-style yoghurt, mixed with 1/3 teaspoon of salt. Get the recipe and read more on labneh here

I’ve used shop-bought Speculoos biscuits as the base as the caremlised, slightly spiced flavour compliments the flavours of rosewater and spiced-poached quince incredibly. You could substitute Speculoos biscuits with ginger nut biscuits or digestives. 

Rosewater is used, as well as vanilla and ground cardamom to flavour the cheesecake filling but you could use orange blossom water instead of the rosewater or omit it completely if you want the flavour of vanilla to shine more. I like using rosewater as it is a nod to quince being part of the rose family and is so synonymous to the tastes and smells of the Middle East. 

Baked Labneh Cheesecake with Quince

Baked Labneh Cheesecake with Quince

5 from 2 votes
Course: DessertCuisine: Middle Eastern, AmericanDifficulty: Medium
Servings

1

9″ cheesecake
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

This isn’t a difficult dessert to make, but requires time and forward planning. The result is a beautiful hybrid of a classic American dessert with fragrant Middle Eastern flavours

Ingredients

  • Poached Quince
  • 2 medium quinces, peeled & quartered

  • 500 ml water

  • 440 g sugar

  • 2 star anise pods

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and put aside for cheesecake mix

  • Base
  • 85 g butter, melted

  • 145 g Speculoos biscuits, crushed into fine crumbs

  • 1 tsp granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp sea salt

  • Filling
  • 250 g labneh (pre-prepared or shop bough), room temperature

  • 200 g ricotta, room temperature

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

  • 150 g granulated sugar

  • 1/2 vanilla bean, leftover from poached quince

  • 1 tbsp rosewater

  • 1 tsp ground cardamom

  • 1 tbsp chopped pistachios (optional)

Directions

  • Poached Quince
  • Place the water, sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod in a medium pan over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. 
  • In the meantime, peel each quince, cut into quarters and remove the cores. 
  • Add the quince to the spiced syrup and cover with a cartouche (a round of greaseproof paper cut to fit snugly in the pan like a tight lid, with a hole in the middle for the steam to escape). 
  • Simmer for 2 hours or until the quinces are tender and the syrup has turned a vibrant fuchsia colour. 
  • Allow the quinces to cool in the syrup. Remove and slice into thin wedges or chunks, depending on how you’d prefer to top your cheesecake.
  • Boil the remaining quince liquid until it is reduced by half. Keep aside, along with the quince wedges for later. 
  • Base
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the base of a 9” springform cake tin by placing a piece of greaseproof paper onto of the base and trapping it by clipping the sides together. 
  • For the base, combine the melted butter, biscuit crumbs, sugar and salt till everything is combined and evenly coated. 
  • Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan using the back of the spoon or your hands to create an even base. Bake for 5 minutes then allow to cool whilst making the filling.
  • Filling
  • To make the filling, mix together the labneh and cream cheese until free from lumps. Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla seeds, rosewater and ground cardamom then mix again until smooth. 
  • Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust and place the cake tin into the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C, after 20 minutes cover the top of the cheesecake with a piece of tinfoil, turn the heat down to 160°C and bake for a further 10 minutes. 
  • Remove the cheesecake from the oven and set aside to cool at room temperature. 
  • Arrange the cooled quince slices to the top of the cheesecake, along with the reduced syrup. Sprinkle over chopped pistachios if you wish for a splash of colour and contrasting texture. 

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