Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cherry Cheesecake

There were some leftover digestive biscuits and cream from the baked mango cheesecake I made for my 2yo's birthday party, so I decided to take advantage and make another cheesecake, but this time a chilled cheesecake. I adore chilled cheesecakes, and probably even prefer them to baked cheesecakes. A really good baked cheesecake is a lovely thing, rich from the eggs and creamy, but I have eaten some shocking examples that were overcooked, grainy, dense, dry, etc., whereas chilled (uncooked) cheesecakes are always silkily smooth and light. I have grown up on chilled cheesecakes, which is the type my mum always makes. She claims to prefer baked, but I have never known her to make a baked cheesecake.

This recipe is super easy - as chilled cheesecakes generally are - just beating of the ingredients and then leaving them to set. This one requires no gelatine which is always a bonus in my book. I did have one unfortunate experience where I wasn't careful enough to have the gelatine solution and cheesecake mixture close in temperature, and I ended up with streaks of gelatine through the cheesecake - yuck! I have made this recipe before (from Nigella Express), and decided to alter the quantities this time. The original recipe calls for 300g of cream cheese, and makes a fairly low cheesecake. In Australia, Philadelphia cream cheese comes in 250g packets, so this time I altered the quantities to use 500g of cream cheese, so that I could just use 2 packets with no leftovers, and to yield a higher cake. For the original recipe and pics of how it turns out if using 300g of cream cheese, see the recipe here at Nigella's website. The quantities below are my revised quantities.

Cherry Cheesecake

Serves 6-8

  • 125g of digestive biscuits
  • 75g of soft butter
  • 500g cream cheese, softened
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice (this should have been ¾ tsp, but I accidentally added the amount of lemon juice I meant to add for vanilla extract, and it turned out fine - didn't affect setting of the cheesecake and I like a bit of extra tang with cheesecakes)
  • 415ml cream, lightly whipped
  • 1 x 284g St Dalfour black cherry conserve

Crush the biscuits in a food processor until they are reduced to crumbs, then add the butter and whiz again until the mixture starts to clump. Press into the base of a 20cm springform tin (see below for how I prepare tins for cheesecake) and a little up the sides to form a ridge. Place in the fridge to chill while you get on with the filling.

Beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice until smooth. Fold through the lightly whipped cream. Pour / scrape onto the biscuit base and use a spatula to smooth the top. Place in the fridge to set for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably overnight.

When ready to serve, unclip the sides, and spread the cherry conserve over. I didn't use the entire bottle, probably about 2/3. I found the conserve is quite thick when it comes out of the bottle. It help to give it a good stir to loosen it up before spreading it onto the cheesecake.

Preparing the pan

Call me paranoid, but I always line the base of the pan when making cheesecake because I worry otherwise that the base will get stuck in the springform base. It is an option to just unclip the sides and serve the cheesecake still on its base, but that would mean cutting onto the pan's base, and all my pans are nonstick, so I don't want to risk damaging the surface with a knife. In addition to the precaution of lining the base, I also use the paper leftover from the square of baking paper I have cut off from which to cut the circle of the base, to form 'handles' to aid removal of the cheesecake from the base.

This is the cut out circle for the base, and the remaining paper that I will use to make the handles. To see an easy way of cutting a circle to the right size, see this previous blog post.

I tear the leftover paper in half, to make 2 strangely shaped pieces of paper. You could cut off two rectangles, but this is quick, easy, and saves any wastage. I then unclip the sides from the pan's base, and place the paper at right angles to each other.

Replace the sides, and before you clip the sides closed completely, use the pieces of paper that are sticking out to tighten the paper and make it flat across the bottom of the pan. Clip the sides.

Place the circle of paper over the handles. If you want the base circle to shift less to make things easier when you are pressing the biscuit base in, then lightly spray the base and handles and then stick the base circle in. I don't usually bother with spraying first.

Removing the cheesecake from the pan

Once the the cheesecake has chilled and set, slide a spatula around the edge of the pan to help release the sides of the cheesecake from the tin. Carefully unclip the sides of the pan and remove. Now use the handles to help lift one side of the cheesecake up. Slip your hand under the cake, remove the base paper if you can, and place the cake carefully onto a plate.

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