Multi-cookers can ‘bake’ custard-like desserts

Tribune News Service photo

A recent conversation with Master Food Preserver Michele Pryse wasn’t the first time we’d dished on the Instant Pot.

Coordinator of ACCESS’ Cooking Skills Education Program, Michele has supported my volunteer efforts to teach cooking classes for the past four years. I’ve joined her during that time in sharing plenty of “Kitchen Wisdom,” including how savvy cooks can press both slow cookers and multi-cookers into service.

That “robot-looking thing,” as Michele is wont to call the Instant Pot, is really good at cooking a frozen-solid block of food in about two hours or less, as this week’s story in A la Carte explained. Although her Oct. 16 class won’t cover preparation of yogurt and other much-touted methods, it’s also true that the Instant Pot is really good at “baking” creamy desserts that would require a water bath in a standard oven. Think custards and cheesecakes, for which recipes abound in multi-cooker cookbooks.

This is an example of one, courtesy of Tribune News Service. It’s still something of a process, hardly like waving a magic wand over the appliance. Do the results justify its purchase? Doubtful. But for anyone who already owns an Instant Pot, it’s a delicious way to make the most of its capabilities.

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake

7 graham cracker sheets

1/4 cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese

1/2 cup organic cane sugar

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon

1/4 cup heavy cream

Lemon curd, as needed

Confectioner’s sugar, as needed

Line base of a 7-inch-by-3-inch, round springform pan with an 8-inch round of parchment paper. Secure collar on springform pan, closing it onto base so parchment round is clamped in. Lightly grease sides of pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.

To make crust, in bowl of a food processor, process the graham crackers and almonds into fine crumbs. You should have 3/4 cup. Add the butter and almond extract, and, using one-second pulses, process mixture until it resembles coarse sand.

Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan and press firmly in an even layer onto bottom and about 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Place pan in freezer to allow crust to firm up a bit while you make filling.

In empty food processor bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients — ricotta cheese through heavy cream — and process for about 2 minutes, until filling is well-blended and smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl halfway through blending if necessary.

Pour filling into prepared crust. Tap pan firmly against countertop a few times to remove any air bubbles in filling.

Fold a 20-inch-long sheet of aluminum foil in half lengthwise twice to create a 3-inch-wide strip. Center it underneath pan to act as a sling for lifting pan in and out of Instant Pot. Pour 1 1/2 cups water into pot and place trivet in pot.

Holding ends of foil sling, lift cake pan and lower it into Instant Pot. Fold over ends of sling so they fit inside pot. Secure lid and set Pressure Release to Sealing. Select Manual setting and set cooking time for 35 minutes at high pressure.

Let pressure release naturally (this will take about 15 minutes). Open pot, taking care not to drip condensation from lid onto cheesecake. Wearing heat-resistant mitts, grasp ends of foil sling, lift springform pan out of Instant Pot and transfer cheesecake to a cooling rack. Use a paper towel to dab up any moisture that may have settled on top. Cake will be puffed up and jiggle a bit in center when it comes out of pot, but it will settle and set up as it cools. Let cheesecake cool on rack for 1 hour.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours before unmolding. To serve, unclasp collar on pan and lift it off, then use parchment border to tug cheesecake off base of pan onto a plate, where it can be sliced and served.

Just before serving, top cheesecake with a 1/4-inch-thick layer of lemon curd and dust curd with some of the confectioners’ sugar.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe from “The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook” by Coco Morante.

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