Make goat cheesecake with tips from a Santa Barbara chef – The Mercury News

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The dessert menu at the Goat Tree restaurant at Santa Barbara’s Hotel Californian includes a goat cheesecake. (The Goat Tree Restaurant)

In parts of Morocco, goats often perch in the branches of Argan trees to graze on the leaves and fruit. It’s quite a sight. And it’s the inspiration for the playful name of the restaurant at Santa Barbara’s Moroccan-inspired Hotel Californian.

With its seasonal California-meets-Morocco menu, the Goat Tree restaurant and its sunny patio are a great place to enjoy a leisurely brunch or casual dinner. Don’t skip dessert. Pastry chef Ronald Viloria has a deft touch and packs the pastry case to the brim with treats including this Goat Cheesecake, which is made with a mix of cream cheese and goat cheese.

Viloria has a few tips for cheesecake makers everywhere. First, he says, “purchase a digital scale. It is the best way to measure ingredients effectively and consistently.”

Second, slow is the way to go. If you’re using a stand mixer, always mix on low speed: “Mixing on high speed creates air pockets in your cheesecake that changes the texture. You should see no pockets of air when you cut into your cheesecake.”

And third: “Scrape, scrape, scrape. Consistently scrape down the sides of the bowl during and between every step of the mixing process to ensure that there are no lumps of cheese in your batter.”

Here’s Viloria’s recipe.

The Hotel Californian’s Goat Cheesecake

Makes one 8-inch round cake


1½ cups graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup melted butter


1 cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

4 cups cream cheese, softened

¾ cup plain goat cheese

1 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract

4 large eggs


Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with an 8-inch round of parchment paper. Place the cake pan in a large broiling pan with a high rim. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, make the crust by stirring together the graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and melted butter until thoroughly combined. Press the crust into the bottom of the cake pan, making an even layer. Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Leave oven on.

For the filling: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch and mix well.

Using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, goat cheese, vanilla and sugar-cornstarch mixture, mixing on low until combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl occasionally to ensure that there are no lumps, and mixing well before adding the next egg.

Pour the batter into the prepared crust. (Note: Professional pastry chefs use restaurant-quality baking pans, which have high sides. If this recipe produces more filling than your pan’s capacity, simply reserve the remaining filling for a second cheesecake.)

Pour hot water into the broiling pan so it comes halfway up the side of the cake pan to create a bain-marie or double boiler. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to remove the cheesecake from the pan, run a paring knife along the edge, then invert the cake pan and release the cake onto a plate. Invert again to place the cake on a serving plate.

— Ronald Viloria, The Goat Tree, Hotel Californian, Santa Barbara

Just a few blocks from the beach, Santa Barbara’s Hotel Californiancaptures Spanish and Moorish design inspiration. (Hotel Californian) 

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