Don't worry, what's above isn't my idea of a cheesecake - it's the inspiration for one!
When in Cornwall it would be a crime against food (and a crime in most diets, but hey...) to not eat at least one tub of clotted cream. Now I know that as somebody born in Devon, I should probably be claiming that it's actually from Devon, but I always grew up eating Cornish clotted cream on my scones. I just rebelled from their silly ideas of spreading the jam on first - everybody knows it goes on second (at least in Devon they do...). When scones aren't available, Mum and I spread it onto digestive biscuits. It's nearly as good - and even in some ways better!
So I was eating one of these - the one in the top photo, in fact - with a bit of cherry jam on top, and thinking about what flavour cheesecakes I wanted to make. (I had orders from my friends at uni that cheesecake had better be in the inevitable haul of food I brought back!). One had to be chocolate - more about that later - but this little biscuit-pretending-to-be-a-scone really brought back memories of a cherry cheesecake I ate as a child at a family party. I think somebody must have brought it with them - it was shop-bought - but I can remember the sour cherries on the creamy base clear as day.
Rather than the normal digestive base I usually do I decided to branch out and use shortbread, and it was lovely - can't believe I've never experimented with the base before! I used some bought shortbread as I didn't have time to make my own. I almost want to make a whole biscuit of shortbread the size of the tin, rather than crumbling it up and mixing with butter - any ideas as to if that would work?
I wanted to use fresh cherries on top, not just preserved ones or jam. I don't think they're quite in season yet, but I found some okay ones in the supermarket. I didn't have a huller or olive pitter or anything to quickly de-stone them, so I just split them in half and twisted the stone out. I think they might look prettier that way, too.
I didn't want to do a baked cheesecake - so I played about with an old family recipe for a plain lemon cheesecake with gelatin (I have a vague inkling it may be Delia in origin). I wanted a creamier filling than normal cream cheese gives, so I went for mascapone and a bit of creme fraiche instead.
I had to take the photos when it had just come out of the freezer - I transported it back to uni frozen - so excuse the frostiness of the photos! I had a slice when it was still pretty frozen, actually, and it was really nice - maybe I should start eating it like that normally!
(Serves about 8-10)
For the base:
7 sticks of shortbread (about 125g)
Crush up the biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin until crumbled and without any big lumps. Melt the butter either in a saucepan or in a microwave. Pour the crumbs into the melted butter and mix well. If it looks too greasy smash up a few more more crumbs. Lightly grease a springform/loose bottomed 20cm/8" tin. Tip the crumb mixture in and flatten down into an even layer. Pop into the fridge to harden while you make the filling.
For the filling:
225g creme fraiche (I used half-fat)
1tsp vanilla essence
125g golden caster sugar
rind of a lemon
4 sheets gelatin (consult your packet as to how much you need)
Put all the ingredients except for the gelatine into a bowl and mix well - I put it in my mixer with a whip attached, but only till well combined. Follow the instructions to create your gelatine - mine was a chop up the sheets, put them to soak in cold water, heat slowly till dissolved type. Pour it into the mixture and stir in well. Take the base out of the fridge and pour the filling in. Put it back in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours before adding the topping.
For the topping:
200g fresh cherries, once halved and pitted
2 dessert spoons cherry jam
1 tsp muscavado sugar
juice of a lemon
1.5 tsp cornflour (or you could use more gelatine if you want a stronger set)
Hull the cherries and place in a saucepan with the jam, sugar and juice w)ith about 4 dessert spoons water and slowly heat till the cherries are soft and tender. Drain the cherries out and put to one side. (If you want to use gelatine, just mix it the remaining juice). Put the juices back in the saucepan with the cornflour and put to boil - stir until thickened. When thick mix the cherries back in and leave to cool a little. When cool but not too set, spread onto the cheesecake and return to the fridge for another hour before serving. To release from the tin, run a knife around the edge and lift out (if it's frozen, keep a cup of hot water nearby and heat the knife in it otherwise it'll just get stuck!).