I have always loved food. As soon as I was old enough, I'd be in the kitchen, helping mum. Nowadays there's nothing I like more than having friends and family over to dinner. I love trying out new recipes. and giving them my own twist...but for some reason I struggle with desserts. They don't turn out well for me. So I pretty much just wimp out every time. I head to the nearest Tesco, pick up a "Tarte au Citron" from the frozen isle and serve it up on the prettiest plate I can find...In fact I'm pretty sure it was becoming my signature dessert. That is of course, until I came across this beauty!
My husband turned forty while we were visiting my sister and her family in Italy and this is what he woke up to on his big day. Isn't she an absolute stunner?...topped with a firework candle, and in the midst of silver streamers that flew out in every direction from an extraordinary giant party cone..no one could fail to be impressed! Did I mention my husband is a HUGE cheese fan?..So the fact it was cheesecake went down a storm too.
I won't lie, this cheesecake was not a carefully planned bake for his big 4 0. No no, everyone had gone to bed, it was about midnight, the night before the big birthday, when my sister and I realised we had completely forgotten to buy the cake. As we couldn't visit a 24hour Tesco, they don't exist in Italy, we did the next best thing. We had a shot of my sister's father in law's home made grappa (to say it's potent stuff would be an injustice!), checked out the BBC Good Food Website and raided the kitchen cupboards. Luckily my sister bakes A LOT so, apart from the lemon curd and sour cream we had everything we needed to create this cake!
- 225g digestive biscuit
- 100g butter, melted
- 250g tub mascarpone
- 600g soft cheese
- 2 eggs, plus 2 yolks
- zest 3 lemons, juice of 1
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 175g caster sugar
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Line the bottom of a 23cm springform tin with greaseproof paper. Tip the biscuits and melted butter into a food processor, then blitz to make fine crumbs. Press into the tin and chill.
Whisk all the other ingredients in a large bowl until completely combined, pour into the tin, then bake for 35-40 mins until the cheesecake has a uniform wobble.
Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside until cool.
Between waiting for the biscuit base to chill, and for the cheesecake to bake in the the oven, it does take a little time...but after a couple of those grappas we weren't counting! The actual making of the cheesecake is really simple though which makes it all the more perfect as a go to bake for a dinner party of celebration.
Without a shadow of a doubt, what took this cheesecake to the "next level" was big sis's genius idea of replacing the sour cream and lemon curd topping, we didn't have, with a fruits of the forest coulis. We then decorated the finished product with lots of fresh berries. We had mixed berries and went a bit "free style" but you could use any combination you like..here is a BBC Good Food Website link to a berry coulis.
- 250g of a mix of berries
- 50g golden caster sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
Put the blackberries and sugar into a small pan with 100ml/31⁄2fl oz water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins until the fruit is soft. Stir in the vanilla, remove and cool a little.
Tip the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor, and whizz to a purée, then strain through a sieve, rubbing it through with the back of a ladle or spoon.
Once the coulis is ready and cooled slightly, you can pour it on to your baked and cooled cheesecake. You can leave the decorating of the cake with fresh berries (red currants definitely look very "pro") until just before serving.
Needless to say, the cake didn't last long, and was devoured by both the grown ups and the kids, over breakfast. So next time you find yourself wandering down the frozen isle eyeing up that "tarte au citron" why not have a go at making this beauty instead!