Clementine Mousse Cheesecake

by Julie Ruble on January 25, 2012 · 44 comments

When I was still in high school, Mike moved into an apartment with one of his friends. Until then, we hadn’t had a place to hang out together alone (there was no metro in Charlotte, alas).

We had loafed about at our parents’ houses, sat in my driveway, and driven a billion miles all around Charlotte, but this was different. This was a living room, a television, a kitchen — an entire domestic space that could be (okay, with the exception of that roommate thing) ours.

High school was a hard time for me. I was both a feisty perfectionist and a social oddball. I didn’t fit in to anyone’s circle (now I realize this might’ve had more to do with my own choices than with anyone actually excluding me). I wrote poetry in my notebook, read novels no one else cared about, and walked the halls alone or with one close friend at lunch. I wore pajamas to school because I couldn’t be bothered getting dressed for that mess. I rebelled in tiny ways — writing the school board indignant letters, painting red x’s on my nails, scrawling lots of angsty notes — because in all of the ways that mattered, I had to be picture perfect.

Every day I’d walk around for 7 hours, surrounded by people but completely alone. I didn’t play an instrument so I didn’t hang out with the marching band. I was in a couple of plays but didn’t totally mesh with the drama crowd. I went to a couple of debate tournaments but never really made a connection. I excelled in everything I tried, but formed real relationships with no one. This is heavy stuff, I guess, but the reason I mention it is just to say that Mike’s apartment became a refuge.

(And also, as a side note, now would be a good time to ask why in the world I’m involved in planning my upcoming 10-year high school reunion.)

I’d spend all day long pushing myself, participating in class and working with classmates. Then the last bell would ring and I’d finally lug my 50 gajillion pound bookbag out to my blue Pontiac Sunbird. I’d drive way too fast (the speeding ticket I got the other day suggests that my driving habits haven’t changed) to Mike’s apartment. I’d knock on his window and a few seconds later, the door would open and I would fall into a hug, finally “home.”

And we did play house. I helped him with laundry. I went grocery shopping with him. I carefully prepared boxes of Hamburger Helper and proudly presented him with heaping plates of it. We’d snuggle on the couch and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation.

When I had to climb back into my car each evening (my limited provisional license imposed a curfew of 9 p.m.), I felt like I was leaving home instead of driving towards it.

Ah. Well. Time alone together isn’t a novel thing anymore. Mike and I often hang out at my apartment or at his place in Raleigh. We also still watch Star Trek, but we’ve moved on to Deep Space Nine. And I still cook him meals, though they usually don’t begin with a box.

Some things have changed; some things have stayed the same. But we talk about those Star-Trek-and-Hamburger-Helper days like my parents talk about their Sliding-Down-the-Hall-in-Socks days. They’re part of our mythology now, something we’ll give our children someday, a story they might not understand until they make a home in someone else. Maybe someday they’ll find themselves preparing a box meal in a sweet little kitchen, or sliding down the hallway in the middle of the night. Or maybe their story will be a different one altogether.

. . .

This cheesecake is certainly not a box meal, but it is something special I made for Mike recently. He loves clementines (or ‘tines, as we call them), and I was going to take him a bushel last time I went to Raleigh, but I opted to make a big cheesecake with them instead. The top layer is a sweet clementine mousse made with clementine curd, and the bottom layer is a traditional creamy cheesecake. I candied some clementine slices to decorate the top and served each piece of cake with a heap of freshly whipped cream. I can’t be sure, but I don’t think Mike missed the Hamburger Helper.

Tell me a story from your love mythology. What memories do you have from early on in your relationship (or from relationships past)?

Clementine Mousse Cheesecake



Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: 10 pieces

Clementine Mousse Cheesecake is a creamsicle lover’s dream. Bright, airy clementine mousse sits atop a smooth, creamy traditional cheesecake in a cookie crust. I decorated mine with pretty candied clementines and served it with freshly whipped cream. In addition to being delicious, this recipe is also easy to break down over multiple days so there’s never too much to do at once.

Cheesecake Ingredients:
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
34 Golden Oreos, processed to fine crumbs*
6 tablespoons butter
*Golden Oreos give off some grease while cooking, so you may want to place a baking sheet under your springform to catch this — you can also substitute graham cracker crumbs if you’d rather, but the oreos are delicious!

Clementine Mousse Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups clementine curd
2 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Candied Clementine Ingredients:
3 clementines with firm (not loose) skin, well washed and dried
4 cups water
2 cup sugar

Directions:
Notes: Cheesecakes are simple and super customizable. New to cheesecake making? Watch my 6 minute Cheesecake Video Tutorial for visual assistance! This recipe can be divided up over several days — you can make the clementine curd and candied clementines in advance. Make the cheesecake the day before you want to assemble the dessert. Then make the mousse and assemble the cake with enough time to chill before serving.

Make candied clementine slices: (If you make these in advance, keep them in their syrup and store in the fridge. When ready, gently heat them again, remove the slices, and proceed with the drying procedure.) Cut each clementine into 6 horizontal slices. Remove any seeds carefully. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and place a cooling rack over a baking sheet on the center rack. Prepare a plate of sugar and set it aside.

Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan (wide enough for the slices to sit in a single layer) over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Place the slices in in a single layer and gently simmer them for 40-50 minutes, turning them once. The white bits should begin to get transparent. Pull them out of the syrup with tongs and place them on the cooling rack to dry for around 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until they’re no longer sticky to the touch. Gently dredge them through the plate of sugar, shaking off excess, to coat any sticky portions. Cool completely.

Make the cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a springform cheesecake pan. Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Using a flat-sided glass, press into an even layer covering the bottom and sides of your cheesecake pan (you want it to be tall — try to get to about 2.5-3 inches high — and a little thicker than for your usual cheesecake; maybe 1/4 inch thick so it won’t crumble). Bake the crust for about 6 minutes and let it cool as you make your cheesecake filling.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until well blended. Beat in the flour. Add in the vanilla and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Pour the filling into your crust.

Bake until the top is lightly browned, puffed and cracked at the edges, and the center moves only very slightly when the pan is lightly shaken (about 40 minutes). Check while baking periodically and put a pie shield (or strips of foil) around the top of your pan to protect the crust edges if they’re getting too dark. Just don’t let the shield/foil touch the crust — it’s delicate and might crumble. When you pull the cheesecake out, you can use a sharp knife to score a circle around the top of the cheesecake about an inch inside the crust so that as it cools and chills/sinks, it won’t pull the crust in too much. Don’t worry if it’s pretty, because you won’t be able to see it in the finished product! Let cheesecake cool completely on a wire rack before chilling it in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

To make the mousse: Pour 2 1/2 tablespoons water into small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water and let it stand to soften for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place 7/8 cups of the clementine curd in large bowl. Stir the remaining 3/8 cup curd in another small saucepan over medium-low heat until very warm.

Stir the gelatin mixture over medium-low heat until the gelatin is dissolved and the liquid is clear (do not boil, or the gelatin may not set up your mousse anymore). Whisk the warm gelatin mixture into the 3/8 cup of warm curd. Then gradually whisk this gelatin-curd mixture into the curd in the large bowl. Let this cool slightly while you make your whipped cream.

Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream to stiff peaks (it helps to use a chilled bowl and whisk). Fold around 1/3 of this cream into the curd to lighten it, and then fold the rest in gently. Pour the mousse over the cheesecake and chill it to set. Top the cake with candied clementines and serve with fresh whipped cream (I whip up about a cup of cream with about 2-3 tablespoons of powdered sugar to make mine — it’s a good use for leftover cake and is lovely with the cheesecake!)

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

DessertForTwo January 25, 2012 at 5:21 am

Awww I loved reading this old story. I knew you & Mike had been together a while, but wow, that’s a long time! Go y’all! :)

Love this cake! I love when you make layered cheesecakes ;)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 25, 2012 at 11:49 am

Thanks, Christina! Yeah, this will be our 12th year (if you exclude our time apart this past year, that is.) I feel old!

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga January 25, 2012 at 5:37 am

I would like to dive into that!

From the crust to the filling to those candied clems, amazing.

And gorgeous photography!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 25, 2012 at 11:48 am

Thank you, Averie!

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Saltyseattle January 25, 2012 at 6:51 am

I’m not much prone to getting all gooey inside but this post made me feel about how that cheesecake looks. And by that I mean yummy-
A word not to be taken lightly;)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 25, 2012 at 11:33 am

Aw, thank you, Linda! “Yummy” DEFINITELY does mean a lot coming from you ;)

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet January 25, 2012 at 11:17 am

I never would have expected you to be like that in high school! You just seem like someone that everyone loves:-) Although, I know I’ve changed a ton since high school.

This cheesecake is so pretty and your photos are gorgeous!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

I think it was more my own doing than anyone else’s, but I didn’t realize that at the time! Thanks, Lauren :)

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Winnie January 25, 2012 at 11:56 am

I am with Linda…this looks yummy ;)
And I’ve already got some candied blood oranges I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with…

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Ooh, it’s like destiny! ;) Thank you, Winnie!

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Cookbook Queen January 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm

My husband and I met at a club (like people drinking/dancing/etc). True story. It sounds horribly tacky, but it was just a fluke that I was even there, I had been dragged along by a guy friend who was bored and didn’t want to sit at home. I ended up giving my now husband my phone number after he approached me and talked to me briefly, he called me later THAT NIGHT, and every day after!!

He lived almost an hour away from me, so time together was a big deal. I remember being SOOO happy when I was driving the hour to his house. Now he asks me to drive 5 minutes to his work to have lunch and I’m all “blah I don’t want to leave the house”.

This cheesecake looks beyond amazing, I LOVE your flavor choice!!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 25, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Aw, I love this!! I know just what you mean about feeling SO HAPPY driving to his house — that’s how I feel lately when I’m making the trip to Raleigh :)

Can’t wait ’til we’re together enough that I can scoff at leaving the house for lunch. LOL!

Thank you, Kristan :)

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Carrie January 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm

High school was rough for me… I had 1 close friend and really disliked the rest of the kids. I kept to myself most of the time. I had this stupid orange hair, and an eyebrow ring… I’m pretty sure I wanted to look the part of the misunderstood teenager. I started dating my now husband our sophomore year (2000) I had actually loved him all my life ( I’m really not joking) we grew up next door and I had a crazy crush on him for as long as I can remember! Now we are married and have 3 beautiful kids!

PS this is the best looking cheesecake EVER. I need to make it asap!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Totally identify with your high school experience, except that I was too shy to look the part. Now I’m considering a tattoo. Latent rebellion? ;)

LOVE that you married your lifetime sweetheart. So sweet. Thank you, Carrie!

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natalie (the sweets life) January 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm

such a cute story! i still remember the first meal i made ryan in college…stuffed shells, salad, and i believe brownies for dessert. i definitely was on the phone with my mom every step of the way. my how things have changed! :)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 25, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Aw, I love that you remember the exact meal! You should recreate it for him on an anniversary! So sweet! I know what you mean about being on the phone to your mom every step of the way — that was the story with me SO often when I started cooking (and sometimes still ;))

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Joanne January 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I’m not quite sure that I would have made it out of high school alive without my boyfriend at the time. He was a really good influence, better than any of my friends would have been, and so I spent my time with him instead of drinking or partying…and being with him was definitely like being home. Such a beautiful post!

I’m sure Mike really appreciated this cake…I know I would have!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 25, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I know just how you mean. There’s just something so comforting about a weathered romantic relationship that can just make you feel safe :) It was nice to have that throughout the tumult of high school.

Thanks, Joanne!

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Fran January 26, 2012 at 12:35 am

wait…kids….are you engaged?~?~ (sorry to be nosy…just trying to keep up?)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 26, 2012 at 1:09 am

Not yet, Fran (*gives Mike a sideways glance*) ;)

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kellypea January 26, 2012 at 2:02 am

Holy cow that’s gorgeous — and obviously “picture perfect” as you mention you liked things to be, but I’m struggling with the high school you thinking that red Xs on your fingernails or pajamas worn to school is similar. Ah, the pangs of adolescence. I would have enjoyed you in my English class for what it’s worth. I loved the brooding artists. They could write and were interesting. Goodness this glorious cheesecake has to be on my diet, right?

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Of course! ;) Thanks so much, Kelly!

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Sarah@SarahCupcake January 26, 2012 at 2:14 am

This is such a beautiful impressive looking cheesecake! I love the candied clementines. :)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Thank you, Sarah!

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Maria January 27, 2012 at 12:22 am

I love clementines! Gorgeous cheesecake!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Thanks, Maria!

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Jennifer {itsbakedin} January 27, 2012 at 3:26 am

What a beautiful cheesecake and photography! I love all things citrus and have bookmarked this recipe ;-)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Thanks, Jennifer! I hope you love it!

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FallsconsMate January 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm

oh lordy. i didnt go to one high school all 4 years…yay for being a military brat, you know? and you’re *about* my daughter’s age…she’s 30 this coming fall. and gonna be a mama for the first time this summer!

i met TheEngineer online. we were both in a certain alt.newsgroup, and things happened from there. about 10 years after we met, we got married! that was 3 years ago, and now we’re getting ready to buy a house. life never gets any less interesting, i tell ya what!

the cheesecake looks yummy!

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Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche January 27, 2012 at 9:10 pm

The clementine mousse sounds amazing! I might try it as a layer on top of a light sponge cake to make it a bit of a lighter dessert, but it does sound delicious :D

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snixykitchen January 28, 2012 at 6:37 am

What a great way to take advantage of the citrus fruits this season! I’ve been searching for ideas to incorporate clementines, mandarins, or oranges into my desserts since they’re in abundance at the produce market. Thanks!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking January 28, 2012 at 11:14 am

Thank you :)

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Kaitlin January 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Aww. This sounds *just* like my high school experience (minus the whole having a boyfriend thing. Oh, the agony). I can’t believe you went on to be a teacher!

Also, clementine cheesecake > clementines. I bet Mike was thrilled :D

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I know, right? You’d think I’d want to stay far away from school! I do love teaching, though :) Thanks, Kaitlin!

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Punctuation Mark January 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm

i guess the best memories are the excitement of the first few months of fun… love this recipe!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Thanks, Punctuation Mark :)

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Melissa January 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Now this would make an awesome brunch dessert! Cute story BTW :D

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Thanks, Melissa!

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Abby March 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Hi Julie,
It goes without saying that your photos are absolutely gorgeous. I made this recipe this week and it is heavenly (albeit time consuming)! I was nervous when the cheesecake crowned over the top of my springform pan, but as it cooled, it sunk making the perfect spot to layer the mousse. This was a huge hit with all who tried it! I recommend it to any cheesecake lover with patience.
Thanks for the great recipe!
Abigail

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 20, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Hooray, I’m so glad you took the time to make it! I’d love to see a picture if you thought to snap one — it definitely fits into my latest Cooking Hard Stuff challenge (http://willowbirdbaking.com/2012/03/06/tres-leches-coconut-cake-trifle/)! I had the exact same experience with my cheesecake rising (and worrying about it) and then falling as it cooled (and being relieved), so I’m glad you thought to mention it so others will know not to fret :)

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Vanessa May 10, 2013 at 7:24 pm

I have been looking for a mousse recipe like this all day! I am going to use this in a mother’s day cake for my mom. She wanted an orange cake so that is what she is getting with this amazing looking mousse in it :)

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Julie Ruble May 10, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Hope she loves it! I’d love to see a picture!

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