Cheesecake is such a useful dessert to have on the menu for entertaining as it can be made ahead and always delights. These flavours are inspired by what is growing in my garden and the fruit of the moment in the Mediterranean.
Few people don’t like strawberries, and if you’ve not tried them with a good, aged balsamic before, go for it! You’ll be surprised how these two ingredients are made for each other. Mint adds some spring freshness and a contrast to the sweet, richer fruit topping. One for the Easter dinner table and a dessert so simple yet dressed to impress.
This recipe featured in The Sunday Times of Malta Easter travel, leisure, food supplement [24 March], so I am well chuffed that it got more exposure. It is a show-stopper and not too unhealthy as the main filling has no sugar and is one-third Greek yoghurt. The other cheese were in the low-fat category,though I did indulge with the Marscapone topping! You can opt for ricotta with just as much success.
What’s more to say…check out the photos and try the recipe below.
- 300g plain digestive biscuits
- 180g unsalted butter
- 220g soft cream cheese
- 250g ricotta
- 250g thick, plain Greek yoghurt
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 200ml single cream
- 1 tsp quality vanilla essence
- Cream topping:
- 250g marscarpone (or ricotta for a lighter option)
- 3-4 tbsps single cream
- Balsamic strawberry compote
- 450g fresh strawberries
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tsps balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- Sprig of mint, chopped (and more to garnish)
- Icing sugar to dust
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 22 to 24cm spring-form tin.
- Base: make digestive biscuits into very fine crumbs in a food processor or place them in a strong plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
- Melt the butter gently and stir in the crushed biscuits coating them thoroughly.
- Press the biscuit mix into the base of the tin and bake for about 10 minutes until just turning golden and slightly firmed up. Remove from oven and cool. Turn up the oven to 200°C
- Filling: use electric beaters whisk together all the cheeses, cornflour, vanilla essence and the yoghurt, then add the cream and beaten eggs a little at a time until the mix is well combined and smooth and thick. Set aside.
- Strawberry compote: rinse the strawberries, then quarter them lengthways and place in a saucepan with the balsamic vinegar, caster sugar and water. Heat to a simmer and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the strawberries are slightly tender but retain their form. Remove the strawberries with a slotted spoon to cool, then add some chopped mint to the liquid in the saucepan and simmer until reduced to a syrup. Set aside to cool.
- Place three large spoonfuls of the cheesecake filling into a blender and add two tablespoons of the cooked strawberries and blend till smooth. Return the mix to the rest of the cheesecake filling and combine well. This adds flavour to the filling which is now a pastel pink colour.
- Pour the cheesecake filling onto the cooled base and bake for around 40-45 minutes, covered with foil, until firm around the edges. The centre should be stable, but slightly wobbly; it firms on cooling and may go down a little if it’s risen. Remove from the oven and cool completely. For a firmer cheesecake, chill in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hrs.
- Remove the cheesecake from its tin and place on a serving plate or cake stand. To top, whisk the marscarpone, adding a few tablespoons of single cream to loosen and make it spreadable. Cover the cheesecake with the topping, roughly.
- Arrange the strawberry compote on top and then pour over the balsamic-mint syrup letting some dribble down the cake. Garnish with more mint and fresh strawberries if desired. Dust with icing sugar.
- Note: The cheesecake keeps for up to two days chilled, covered, in the fridge. Nicer served immediately the balsamic syrup is poured on it though. Note: the baked base and filling (without topping) can be made ahead and frozen.