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dried mint labneh cheesecake

Ingredients

For the graham cracker pine nut crust:
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 package graham crackers (9 full crackers) ground into fine crumbs (1 cup + 2 tablespoons crumbs)
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup sugar*
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds labneh***
2 egg yolks
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons crumbled dried mint****

For the topping:
1/2 pound labneh
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon crumbled dried mint for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350° F [180° C] convection.
  2. Purée the pine nuts in a food processor, until they stick to the sides in a thick paste. Scrape the sides down, add the graham crackers, and pulse until everything is very finely ground.
  3. Add the melted butter, sugar, and salt, and process until everything is well-blended.
  4. Lightly coat the sides of an 8-inch cheesecake round** with oil or butter.
  5. Place the crumbly crust in the cheesecake round, and press it down into 1 even layer. Use a glass, measuring cup, or something else that has a flat bottom to press it into a compact layer.
  6. Place the cheesecake round on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until it turns a little golden. Let it cool while you work on the filling.
  7. Make the filling and bake the cheesecake: Lower the oven to 300° F [150° C] convection. †
  8. Place the labneh in a medium mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks and slowly whisk together to completely incorporate (use a whisk, but do not whip it together—you don’t want to incorporate too much air into the filling).
  9. Add the remaining eggs one egg at a time, mixing everything together completely with each addition.
  10. Add the sugar and salt, and stir together until it all dissolves completely. Then carefully stir in the dried mint.
  11. Pour into the (slightly cooled) crust and bake for about 55 minutes, just until the very center is a little jiggly.
  12. Once the cheesecake comes out of the oven, let it cool for a couple minutes while you make the topping.
  13. Make the topping: Combine the labneh and sugar, and pour over the top. Carefully smooth it out, put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the sides, and leave it at room temperature for about 2 hours before covering and refrigerating overnight. If you don’t have all night, at least refrigerate it for at least 3 to 4 hours. Don’t worry if the edges are a little rough (you’ll cover the top with mint).
  14. Once it’s chilled long enough, remove from the pan. ‡ Place on a serving plate and sprinkle with crumbled dried mint.

Notes

* Feel free to reduce this to 1/4 cup.

** You can use a 9-inch round, but the cook time will be slightly shorter once you add the filling. If you’re not using a pan with a removable bottom, line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan with a parchment round.

*** I developed this recipe with store-bought labneh, but you can use homemade. Just be sure to strain it long enough (the full 12 hours) or the cheesecake might not set correctly. Compare yours to the bowl of labneh above as a reference point.

**** You can find dried mint at most Middle Eastern markets, spice shops, and some supermarkets with a well-stocked international section. But if you can’t find it, it’s actually super easy to make at home with fresh.

† If you don’t have a convection oven, it will just take a little longer to bake all the way through. When I’ve used a conventional oven for this recipe, it’s taken about 20 minutes longer.

‡ If you’re not using a pan with a removable bottom, very very carefully invert the cake onto a wax paper-lined cutting board after chilling overnight. Immediately invert it back onto a serving plate and peel the wax off, using a knife to scrape if it isn’t releasing. The top ends up covered, so no worries.