Goat Cheese Cake with Poached Sour Cherries

For the cake:

2 pints (4 C) sour cherries, pitted
2 T flour
9 oz. goat cheese
1/2 C plus 1 T superfine sugar
1/4 C cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 t vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
for the poached sour cherries:
1/2 C sugar
1 C sweet riesling
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
3 star anise
1 pint (2 C) sour cherries, pitted

1. To prepare cake: heat oven to 350 degrees, with racks positioned halfway and two-thirds down. Place a kettle of water over high heat to bring to a boil. Spray oil in 24 4-oz metal cups, 2 12-cup mufin pans or a 9-inch springform pan,and set aside. In a mixing bowl, toss cherries with flour. Divide cherries among cups or scatter in springform pan. Set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat together goat cheese, 1/2 C sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add pulp of vanilla bean or vanilla extract. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks.Add remaining T sugar, and continue to whisk until stiff but not dry. Mix about 1/2 C egg whites into cheese mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining whites. Spoon batter into cups or pan, filling cups about 3/4 full.

4. Place cups or springform pan, its bottom made watertight with foil, in a baking pan. (Muffin pans will need two baking pans.) Carefully pour boiling water to halfway up sides of cups or springform pan. Cover water-filled baking pans tightly with aluminum foil. Place in oven. If using two pans, place one on middle rack and the other on rack below, switching and reversing pans halfway during cooking to ensure even baking. Bake until cake is puffed and firm to touch, about 20 minutes for individual cakes, about 30 minutes for a single cake. Remove pans from water bath, and allow to cool, then refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

5. While cake cools, prepare poached sour cherries: In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and 1/2 C water. Place over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add riesling, cinnamon, star anise and cherries. bring to a boil, then use a slotted spoon to transfer cherries to a bowl. Allow to cool. Continue to boil liquid until it is reduced by half. Remove syrup from heat, and allow to cool.

6. To serve, drizzle cherry syrup on each plate, and place cake on top. Top cake with poached cherries, and serve.

Yield: 24 small cakes or 1 9-inch cake.

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