Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Strawberry Cheesecake - a wobbly recipe.

That pink, globby-looking slice of cheesecake in the photo above was made by me.  I know I probably should have cleaned up the base a bit before taking the photo but, if you'd been at my house this morning this is exactly what the serve on your plate would have looked like and I hope you'd have enjoyed it, and not been overly-critical of messy bottoms.

I have um-ed and aah-ed about posting this blog now that I've written it, but it represents a significant investment of my time  and I thought I'd just throw it out into the winds of the world wide web and hope that it didn't attract too much attention for it's wobbliness, and instead was recognised for what it is, a plea for help in the cheesecake department.

After an abundant strawberry season (1.5kg of organic 'seconds' selling for $8) we have had many jars of Strawberry, Balsamic & Black Pepper Jam sitting in the fridge.  Depending on how closely I followed a recipe these were either jam consistency or perfect for ice-cream topping.  Yesterday I became fixated with the idea of making some of the jam into a strawberry cheesecake.  I diligently filled my basket at Woolworths with cream-cheese, cream, gelatin, gluten-free lemon biscuits, etc and came home to google a recipe.

I am very dissappointed to report that the food & recipe bloggers/website owners of the world have let me down!  Every recipe I found was either a normal cheese-cake with strawberries in syrup on top or a pink cheesecake flavoured with jelly crystals.

Having never made a cheesecake before I was very nervous about just trying from scratch but I'm glad I had a go, and thought I better put this post out there in the hope that some-one with more culinary skill than me can improve upon it.

So, here it is.  And it's rough.

I began with:
1 package of gluten-free lemon biscuits (Woolworths Macro brand)
2 blocks of cream-cheese (left out for a while to soften)
1/2 block of organic butter (also left out to soften)
1 heaped tsp Gelatin Crystals
3 tsp of boiling water (just guessing here)
1 cup of cream
1/3 cup of homemade strawberry jam plus 4 tablespoons for swirling
2/3 cup icing sugar

First I loaded the biscuits into my benchtop blender and whizzed them into fine crumbs.  I tipped the crumbs into a bowl with the softened butter (it was 26 degrees Celsius in my kitchen last night so the butter was very soft).  I combined the crumbs and butter until smooth and pressed the mixture into a small spring-form tin that I had lined with baking paper.  Once nice and smooth I left it in the fridge to firm up while I got the cheesecake mix ready.

I mixed the gelatin up in a glass with the boiling water until it had dissolved completely.  Actually my husband finished this step for me because it was taking so long. While my husband whipped the cream for me (supposed to be stiff peaks but didn't quite get there) I used my blender to mix together the cream-cheese, icing sugar and 1/3 cup of jam.  Please don't use your blender if you own any kind of other mixer (stand or hand-held).  The blender was a pain-in-the-neck to use for this. Once the cream-cheese mixture was totally combined I added the gelatin mixture and blended some more.

Now I just tipped the contents of the blender into a large bowl and gently folded in the whipped cream. I took the cheesecake-base from the fridge, made sure it had set (yippee!) and poured the cheesecake mixture in.  I dutifully tapped the sides a few times to remove bubbles. A few dollops of jam on top were easily swirled in with a skewer to make it pretty.

I put the now fully loaded spring-form tin in a large plastic container and left it in the fridge to set over-night.

So that's what I did, and I was so happy and excited to open the fridge this morning and find that it had actually set.  So excited, in fact, that I had cheesecake for breakfast....

The cheesecake is pretty and pink and tastes like strawberry but I'm not entirely happy with the recipe and I hope that some-one will take it and improve upon it. Or just scrap it entirely and tell me how to make the real-deal! I have put the cheesecake in the freezer and it is very yummy frozen, and looks neater because the jam stays where it's put instead of sliding around where ever it wills.  This could probably have been fixed by mixing some gelatin into the jam topping. The jam I used was half-way between ice-cream syrup and toast topping.

The cheese-cake tastes very light which is fine but I was actually after something really dense and creamy.  Maybe the no-bake route wasn't the way to go?

Anyway, I do have my strawberry cheesecake after all and it is so lovely to sneak a teaspoon full out of the freezer every now and then on this hot day when the little ones aren't watching...