This time around, though, when the announcement of the HHDD theme and the presence of a frozen packet of cream cheese in my needing-to-be-emptied freezer co-incided it was obviously A Sign. While poking around in the freezer, I also discovered a substantial amount of chicken that also needed to be used up so I had a chat with the Connoisseur and volunteered to host the latest episode of bookclub at mine before we downsize and everyone has to sit on the kitchen counter.
Let me tell you, my baked cheesecake was not an easy task. Of course, this was not helped by my devil-may-care, I’m-too-lazy-to-go-to-the-shop-again substitutions. The fact that I was also working from about three recipes didn’t help either! I started off with Nigella‘s Chocolate Cheesecake and, because of a(nother) freezer discovery of a bag of frozen raspberries and my love of this sweet and tart combination, decided to make a Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake.
When I couldn’t find any digestives (graham crackers) for the base – none in Dunnes, what is the world coming to? – I decided to use Hob Nobs instead. Because I was after a thicker base than Nigella likes, I wandered over to Nigel‘s Kitchen Diaries for quantities, while still following Nigella’s method. No custard powder? No stress. Just leave it out. Can’t be bothered to separate eggs? Throw another couple in instead of just the yokes. Just short of the cream cheese needed? Sure, it’ll be grand. And then there was crème fraîche instead of sour cream, blending the whole lot in the food processor instead of using the mixer (down at the cottage!) and a mis-wrapped tin that leaked. I also forgot to put the raspberries into the tin before the filling so they sat on top, rather than being buried, as I had intended, as a tart little surprise in the depths of the cheesecake.
It cracked, it broke, it had to be disguised by a quickly sieved layer of cocoa. Oh, my mistakes were legion. But, and this is always the killer when you produce a dish and tell people that it’s not quite what you had intended but hopefully it is ok, it went down so well that I’m now going to give you my own lackadaisical recipe. If you want to cook the proper version, just go here.
One warning: do not, under any circumstances, make this if you’re about to have guests over that night. It’s something that very definitely is a make ahead desert. As a matter of fact, I made both this and the main course, a Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons, the night before dinner. It certainly makes having friends over a lot easier and, being lazy by nature, I take any short-cuts I can!
Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake
Hob Nob biscuits – 225g
Butter – 50g
Dark chocolate (at least 50% cocoa solids), broken – 225g (I used some Fair Trade chocolate that I bought from the Amnesty chocolate evening)
Philadelphia cream cheese – 2 x 225g blocks
Caster sugar – 100g
Eggs – 4 large or 5 medium
Crème fraîche – 175g
Cocoa – ½ teaspoon, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
Frozen Raspberries – 100g
A little more cocoa for disguising cracks
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Starting with the base, process the Hob Nobs to make rough crumbs. Add the butter and process again until it is well amalgamated with the crumbs and they are starting to clump together. Tip into a buttered 9-inch springform pan and press with the back of a spoon to make an even base. Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
Boil your kettle.
Melt the chocolate and set to one side to cool slightly. If you are me and you already have the food processor out, you can use it to process the cream cheese with the sugar, eggs and crème fraîche. Add the cocoa dissolved in hot water and melted chocolate and mix to a smooth batter.
Take the springform tin out of the freezer and protect it very carefully with a layer of cling film, covering that with a layer of strong tin foil. Sit the tin into a roasting pan and sprinkle the frozen raspberries over, Scrape and pour the filling on top of the base. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan so that it comes about half-way up the cake tin. Carefully transfer it to the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour until set. The top should be shiny and a little wobbly.
Taking off the foil and cling film layers, allow the cheesecake to cool on a wire rack. When cooled down, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight. Allow it to return to room temperature before unspringing the tin and freeing the cheesecake. Bear in mind that this may not happen easily. The Boyfriend will be happy with any left-over bits stuck to the tin. If the top of your cheesecake, like mine, is fissured and cracked, simply sieve some cocoa over to disguise it.
Serve in thin slices with ice cream and/or, to further gild the lily, some chocolate sauce. Serves at least 8.