Baking familiar and simple recipes in my kitchen is always a pleasant way to relax. I had a spate of cheesecake making this time last year, so I thought I’d see if I still remembered all the tricks and turns it took to make it just right.
I baked a chocolate cheesecake on Friday evening, which is a version vastly modified from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. I’ve scaled it down in size, halved the biscuit base, and changed the entire contents of the filling, using half Quark and half Philly light for the cream cheese.
I also decided not to bother with melting the butter, and squished it together with the crumbed digestive biscuits using my hands, which got a little messy, but was infinitely satisfying, and in my mind, further reduces the risk of getting that dreaded soggy bottom (darn it Great British Bake Off, for raising standards of baking to stressful standards of perfection!)
The whole cheesecake turned out looking great. There was a smidgeon of chocolatey graininess when I mixed the melted chocolate and the cold cheese together, and I forgot to add the specified double cream, but it came out of the oven with just the right degree of wibble, and no cracks on the glossy brown surface. Fantastic. Into the fridge it went to set overnight.
And here is where I botched it. I couldn’t get it out of the tin without breaking the base, and so it didn’t look terribly presentable once I’d cut into it. The perfectionist inside me was wailing.
Ugliness aside, cheesecake 1 tasted pretty darn good and the family wolfed it down. The quark worked brilliantly – the filling nice and creamy – with none of the squeakiness I’d heard to expect from quark cheesecakes. The base was crunchy (which made it even more difficult to cut!) and not-at-all soggy.
So, after messing up the presentation of that cheesecake, I had to find an excuse to make another one. Onto cheesecake 2. At first, it seemed like everything was going to go wrong. The mixture was worryingly liquid, and it turned out rather grainy as I was too impatient, and combined the chocolate too quickly into the cheese mixture. The bain-marie leaked into the layers of tinfoil, I splashed hot water all over the kitchen floor, and the top of the cheesecake cracked slightly as well!
I persevered (having used up a great portion of my precious stores of Valrhona chocolate in it, I wasn’t about to give up!) and actually, this cheesecake really turned out brilliantly. No soggy bottom, creamy topping, fabulous ganache layer to finish it all off, and ultra top marks from all happy taste testers, who declared it even better than the first one.
- 8 digestive biscuits, crushed into crumbs
- 75g butter, softened
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 500g cream cheese
- 6 tbsp double cream
- 200g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp plain flour
- 200g dark chocolate, melted
Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin and wrap the tin well in layers of foil .
Combine the biscuit crumbs with the butter and cocoa powder, and press together with hands until it forms a soft dough. Press this firmly into the base of the tin and chill until needed. Preheat the oven to 160˚C.
Beat the cream cheese together with the cream, sugar, eggs and flour. Beat in the melted chocolate. Spoon over the crumb base and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is just set. You can bake the cheesecake in a bain-marie for better heat distribution, and to reduce the likelihood of the top cracking.
When the cheesecake is done, turn the oven off and leave it inside for 1 hour. Remove the foil, and chill the cheesecake overnight before serving. You can make a ganache to cover the top of the cheesecake if it is very cracked, and it also tastes good!