It was my birthday this weekend, and I celebrated with duck and pancakes with a side order of good friends down in Chinatown followed by champagne and cheesecake at home.
Now donâ€™t get me wrong, I love cake cake, and Iâ€™m happy to eat it whenever the occasion arises, but when I get to call the shots, cheesecake is my celebratory mouthful of choice.
This no bake version of cheesecake is pretty easy to put together â€“ especially if you have a mixer – more assembly than cooking really. Itâ€™s not exactly the cheesecake of my childhood â€“ I remember ones at Methodist Church parties with mandarin orange toppings and dense digestive bases â€“ and itâ€™s not exactly the cheesecake that I go out to eat in New York â€“ baked, vanilla, Katz if Iâ€™m choosing, Carnegie Deli if Jonâ€™s choosing â€“ but, poised somewhere between: like me, Â I suppose.
For the Cheesecake1 cup of crushed graham crackers Â¼ cup of chopped toasted pecans Â¾ stick of very soft butter 1 and Â½ packs of cream cheese (each pack is 8oz)
3/4 pint of heavy cream (whipping cream) 2 tbsp of sugar
Vanilla 1 tsp fresh lemon juice 1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup of confectioner’s (icing) sugar
For the toffee apple sauce2 apples, peeled, cored and diced 3 tbsp butter 4 tbsp sugar Â½ cup of cream
- Crush the graham crackers with the pecans and mix with the soft butter and 2 tbsp of sugar
- Press into the base of an 8 inch spring form tin, going a little bit up the sides to make a good nest for the filling
- Whip the cream to soft peaks and set aside
- Mix the cream cheese, Â½ tsp of lemon juice, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of icing sugar and the seeds from a whole vanilla pod (or you could use 1tsp of good quality extract) until soft
- Stir the cream into the cream cheese mixture
- Pour onto the crumb base and put in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight
- Fry the apples in 1 tbsp of the butter and 1tbsp of the sugar until they are soft and starting to caramelize (about 5 mins)
- Add the rest of the butter and the sugar and cook until the caramel is deep brown (another 5 mins)
- Pour in the cream
- The caramel with seize up, but donâ€™t worry, keep stirring and it will melt again forming a thick sauce
- This sauce is best served warm â€“ you can make it in advance and re-heat it, but you might have to add a bit more cream to thin it out.
If you can make that you can make this:
- Top with handfuls of fresh raspberries and a dusting of confectioners sugar
- Heat up a packet of frozen berries with a couple of tablespoons of sugar (pick out the strawberries – they are disgusting) then pour this hot compote over the cheesecake.
- Top with fresh mixed berries – whatever’s in season. Redcurrants look particularly beautiful.
- Top with a high quality fruit preserve. I just saw Nigella Lawson on the telly do one with a cherry preserve – it looked delicious. I made a chocolate version with cherry preserve and grated white and dark chocolate over the top (a black forest direction).
- Replace half the crackers with ginger nut biscuits and add half a teaspoon of cinnamon to the cheesecake batter.