My first cheesecake a couple weekends ago was a rather successful thing: firm on the edges, the fruity coulis on top swirled into a thing of marbled beauty, the crust all crisp and crumbly below. However, I couldn’t help but feel like I did something wrong somewhere because the middle was all runny; while it did taste good, it sort of put me off. No one else seemed to complain, however.
Still, I was rather uneasy with my first attempt at cheesecake. So when the first one was finished off by my sister who polished off the last wedge standing for breakfast last Saturday, I got to thinking and whipped up a second cheesecake – and this one had me seriously pleased.
The trick, I learned, was to raise the temperature a notch higher than the first one. Also, I chose to reduce the amount of sour cream in the filling. The end result was firmer, but nevertheless melted in diners’ mouths. Plus, this second cake doesn’t have any coulis marbled on its surface – for the basic reason that I ran out of fruit I could puree and hadn’t had time to make a quick market run before baking. I swirled in some strawberry jam and spruced it up with some lemon flavoring (finely grated lemon zest works just as well) – et voila! A dessert I could be justly proud of.
- 150 grams digestive biscuits, broken
- 1/4 cup melted butter, plus a bit more for greasing your tin
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 500 grams cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup strawberry jam
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 teaspoon lemon flavoring or 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 eggs
Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees / Gas Mark 3. Grease an 8-inch cake tin and line the bottom with waxed paper; set aside.
Blitz the digestives in a blender or food processor till they’ve been reduced to coarse crumbs. Combine the crumbs with the butter and cinnamon; press evenly onto the bottom of your prepared cake tin. Refrigerate until needed.
Cream together the softened cream cheese and sugar till light and fluffy. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean (save the pod for vanilla sugar) and add to the cheese. Mix in the lemon flavoring, sour cream, and eggs until well-combined and smooth. Pour onto the prepared crust. Dollop the jam over and swirl in with a butter knife.
Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside for another half-hour. Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature for an hour. Refrigerate at least three hours or, better yet, overnight before serving.
Pear-and-Ginger Cheesecake Swap the digestives for an equal amount of gingersnaps and don’t add cinnamon; proceed as usual for the crust. Instead of strawberry jam, puree 200 grams tinned pears in syrup and one fresh pear (peeled and cored). Swirl the resulting coulis on top, marbling it through with a butter knife. Bake and cool in the usual way.
Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Swap the digestives for an equal amount of chocolate sandwich cookies (keep the cream centers, too!) and don’t add cinnamon; proceed as usual for the crust. Instead of strawberry jam, chop 200 grams dark chocolate-coated almonds and swap the lemon flavoring for an equal amount of almond extract; mix the extract in first and fold in the chopped chocolate-nuts. Bake and cool in the usual way.