Cheese Cake with American Pistachios by Chef Viviana Varese


For the base
1 cup sugar cookies, crumbled
3 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons candied American pistachios
¼ cup butter

For the cream
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
¼ cup granulated white sugar
2 ½ cups ricotta
Juice of half a lemon
½ cup fresh cream 1 ½ tbsp corn starch 20 g

For the candied pistachios
1 1/3 cups shelled green American pistachio
½ cup water
¾ cup granulated white sugar

For the whipped fudge with white chocolate and pistachios
¼ tsp fresh cream
¼ cup white corn syrup
1 ½ cups white chocolate
½ cup pistachio paste


For the candied pistachios
Toast the pistachios for 15 minutes at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. To prepare syrup boil water and add sugar and roasted pistachios. Then drain and place pistachios bakery paper and bake at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until they are candied.

For the fudge
Heat the cream with the corn syrup; do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add the chocolate and mix with a whisk. When the chocolate has melted add the pistachio paste. Let rest in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.

For the base
Whisk the sugar cookies with candied pistachios and then add the melted butter; mix until homogeneous. Place in a round cake pan with a diameter of 8 inches. Level with a spoon equally to obtain a bottom of about 1/8 inch deep. Let rest in the refrigerator for about half an hour.

For the cream
Combine and beat the eggs and egg yolk with the sugar until frothy. Add the sifted ricotta. Mix with lemon juice, starch and fresh cream. Add ¾ of candied pistachios. Place the cream into the pan over the base and bake in oven at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 140 degrees. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes, remove and allow to cool before serving.

Assembly and finishing
Blend the cold fudge with an electric mixer until it has a solid consistency. Place the fudge into a piping bag and decorate the cheese cake. Finish with ¼ of candied pistachios.

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fun facts

Pistachios, when eaten with high-carbohydrate foods, may result in lower than expected blood sugar levels, an important factor in reducing risk of diabetes.

According to a Penn State University study, it is suggested that pistachios reduce the body's biological response to stress.

One serving of pistachios has as much potassium (300mg, 8%) as an orange (250mg, 7%).

Pistachios are high in phytosterols which may lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease. In animal studies phytosterols have been shown to potentially have anti-cancer properties.

One serving of pistachios is 49 nuts, more than any other tree nut.

Forty-nine pistachios serve up to 20 percent of your Daily Value of B6, about the same as half an avocado.

You can obtain more dietary fiber from a serving of pistachios (3g) than a 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli, and the same amount of dietary fiber as an orange or an apple — approximately 10 percent of the Daily Value.

Just a single serving of pistachios provides you with the same amount of protein in a one-ounce serving of soybeans and can serve as a protein alternative to meat, poultry or beans according to the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.

Pistachios are a naturally cholesterol-free snack and contain just 1.5 grams of saturated fat.

Celebrate the greatness of nuts! October 22 is National Nut Day and February 26 is National Pistachio Day!