I’m not the biggest fan of cheesecake, so I won’t be waxing lyrical about this recipe. As cheesecakes go though, it’s a real good’un. The addition of mint and balsamic stop it from being one-dimensional creaminess, and turn it into something a bit more sophisticated and interesting.
It’s a Fiona Cairns (of royal wedding cake-maker fame) concoction from her Bake & Decorate cookbook. If you’ve got some end-of-season strawberries, then this would be a great way of using them up—especially if you’re throwing a party for pudding lovers over the weekend, and you’re looking for a centre piece to finish the meal with.
For the base:
50g unsalted butter, melted, plus
more for the tin
300g dark chocolate digestive
10 large mint leaves, finely
For the strawberry filling:
300g strawberries, thinly sliced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
10 large mint leaves, finely
1 tbsp icing sugar
For the cream cheese filling:
3 tsp gelatine crystals
250g unsalted cream cheese,
at room temperature
300ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
45g golden caster sugar
few sprigs of mint
Preheat the oven to 170C. Butter very well the base and sides of a 23cm diameter, 7.5cm deep, round springform tin, making sure the flat side of the springform base is uppermost (the lipped side makes it hard to remove the cheesecake).
Put the biscuits in a polythene bag, seal, then bash with a rolling pin until very fine. Tip into a bowl and mix in the butter and mint. Lightly press into the tin with a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes, then leave to cool.
For the strawberry filling, simply mix everything together in a bowl and leave for 1-2 hours for the strawberries to absorb the flavours. Drain the strawberries, reserving all the delicious juices.
For the cream cheese filling, place 3 tbsp cold water into a small, wide-bottomed heatproof bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Every single crystal must be wet, or it will turn to lumps later on. Set the bowl over a pan of hot (not boiling) water until every crystal has melted. Don’t let it get too hot or it won’t set properly.
In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. In another bowl, lightly whip the cream and vanilla. Using an electric mixer (or handheld whisk), whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and doubled in volume. Carefully fold in the cream cheese, then the cream.
Take the strawberry juices and mix them into the gelatine liquid, sieve out any lumps, then fold in a spoonful of the cream mixture. Once well blended, gently fold in the remaining cream. Spread the marinated strawberries over the centre of the biscuit base, ensuring they do not reach the edges. Spoon on the cream, level the surface and place in the refrigerator overnight to set.
When you are ready to serve, dip a knife into hot water, release the spring and run the knife around the edge of the tin. Ease off the base with a warm palette knife and transfer to a serving dish. Finally, decorate with the sliced strawberries and mint sprigs.