Dave’s folks recently came to stay for the weekend. It’s was JP’s second birthday party on the Sunday. On the Saturday night we invited Dave’s brother and his husband over for supper. We had a three pound steak pie in the freezer to enjoy.
Dave decided a cheesecake would be the ideal way to finish that meal. Dave considered several different recipes and finally decided to make Jamie Oliver’s baked New York cheesecake. With its vanilla and lemon strongly complementing each other Dave was pleased with the result and we all enjoyed it. In fact, it left me wondering about cheesecakes and their different recipes and the next week I decided to make one that isn’t baked. There is a freshness, a coolness that comes with a non-baked cheesecake that I really like and they are also simpler to prepare. There is no faffing with an oven and it all just goes in the fridge to chill.
I looked at different recipes. Some used gelatine to fix the topping, others raw whipped egg. I would be happy with either, but ordinary gelatine is a meat by-product and would preclude vegetarians from enjoying my cheesecake. Raw eggs on the other hand mean it’s no go for anyone pregnant. Was it possible to make a cheesecake without either? I decided to try.
First I greased and lined a 23cm tin with a removable base. (Confession time: I must have first greased and lined a baking tin over twenty years ago but I chose to line the tin and then grease the paper! I guess this was because I thought the fat needed to be next to the food. But lining a tin is tricky. The paper doesn’t sit still and does exactly what it wants to do and now I know to grease the tin first so the paper sticks in place perfectly and the end result is just the same. Who knew!).
If I didn’t have a 23cm tin, I would use a larger or smaller one. The cheesecake will be a different size either thinner or thicker, but equally delicious. If I was making a cake this isn’t the sort of change I could easily make but with a cheesecake it’s not a problem.
I then bashed digestive biscuits into crumbs. If Dave wasn’t around I would use ginger nuts, as I like their flavour, but he isn’t keen on ginger, so digestives it is. I have sinced tried this recipe with ginger nuts and to me they improve the flavour. I can crush the biscuits in a food processor, but to save on washing up, I put the biscuits in a large sandwich or freezer bag and held it shut at one end while bashing with a rolling pin. Into the biscuit crumbs I stirred the melted butter. The butter took 1 minute 5 seconds to melt in my microwave. I then put the biscuit mixture into the lined baking tin and pushed it down with the back of a spoon to create the cheesecake base. I then put the tin in the fridge.
In a large bowl I mixed the cream cheese with lemon zest, sugar and the seeds from a vanilla pod. I cut the seed pod in half lengthways and then used my finger to run down the inside of the pod removing the seeds as I go. Keep on mixing until you have an equal distribution of vanilla seeds.
Here’s another confession: I always thought using vanilla essence or extract was absolutely fine. But the moment I used a vanilla pod, I realised I had been wrong. The flavour from the pods is far superior with a gentle, authentic vanilla taste. The seeds also give that lovely look telling you that what you are going to eat will be delicious.
Once the cream cheese mixture has been fully mixed I spooned it on the biscuit base and smoothed the top over. That’s it done and I then popped it into the fridge to set. It needs about an hour to set in the fridge, but longer works too. Remove it from the fridge and transfer to a serving plate half an hour before serving.
Madagascan vanilla and lemon cheesecake
250g digestive or ginger nut biscuits
150g unsalted butter, melted
900g full fat cream cheese
1 lemon, zest
1 vanilla pod, seeds
100g caster sugar
Preparation time – 20 minutes
Chilling time – 1 hour
Carbohydrate per serving – 29g
1. Grease and line a 23cm round tin with a removable base.
2. Bash the biscuits up in a food processor, or in a sandwich bag using a rolling pin. Pour into a bowl and stir in the melted butter. Keep stirring until this is all combined and then spoon into the lined tin and flattened with the back of your spoon so the whole base is equally covered and put in the fridge.
3. In a large bowl mix the cream cheese with the lemon zest and the vanilla seeds and caster sugar. Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthways and use your finger to remove the seeds. Mix the cream cheese until you can see an equal distribution of vanilla seeds.
4. Spoon on top of the biscuit base and level off. Put in the fridge to firm up for one hour. Remove from the tin and put on a plate to serve.
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