Monday, 30 August 2010

At Home: Blackberry and Rosemary Cheesecake

Made with a pound and a half of cream cheese (it has to be full fat) and lashings of sugar, this baked cheesecake - adapted from a recipe in the Soil Association's Grown in Britain Cookbook - is not a light dessert, but unless you're planning to demolish the whole thing yourself, it's an indulgence worth every mouthful. Adding rosemary to the biscuit base adds a welcome fragrant note.

Sweet, tart, and rich, this crowd-pleaser is perfect for a dinner party and will serve 8-10.

  • 200g (7oz) digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 85g (3oz) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 675 (1 1/2lb) cream cheese
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 225g (8oz) blackberries
  • granulated sugar, to taste
  • 1 tsp arrowroot
Mix the crushed biscuits with the chopped rosemary and stir in the melted butter. Press the mixture into the base and about 2.5cm (1in) up the sides of a buttered 20cm (8in) springform tin. Preheat the oven to 150C (300F/Gas 2).

Beat the cheese with the sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Spoon into the prepared tin. Level the surface. Bake for 1-1 1/4 hours until set. Turn off the oven and leave until cold.

Stew the fruit in 4 tbsp water until the juices run. Sweeten to taste. Blend the arrowroot with 1 tsp water and stir in. Cook, stirring, until thickened and clear. Leave to cool.

Remove the cheesecake from the tin and place on a serving plate. Spoon the fruit topping over, and top the cake with fresh berries.

  • Try using blueberries, stoned cherries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, or strawberries. Adjust the added sugar accordingly.
  • Add 80g crushed nuts - roasted pecans or hazelnuts are ideal - to the biscuit base (reducing the quantity of biscuit to 120g).
  • Instead of cooking down the berries to cover the cheesecake, mix the fresh berries gently into the cream mixture before baking. Top with fresh berries and icing sugar to serve.
  • Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice to the cream cheese mixture if you'd like to temper the sweetness.
  • Add the zest of an orange to the cream cheese mixture.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

At Home: Apple and Amaretti Tart

Another simple autumnal dessert that takes only 10 minutes to prepare. No pastry to chill, roll, and blind bake. Just an easy biscuity crust. This recipe comes from my well-thumbed copy of Riverford farm's brilliant Riverford Farm Cook Book.

The book states this serves 8, but you'll find 4 will polish it off. For 8, use a 28in loose-bottomed tart tin, and the quantities in brackets.

Try Braeburns or Granny Smiths for a tarter finish, but Bramleys hold their shape surprisingly well. Plums or apricots are a great alternative to apples.

700g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced (900g)
1 tbsp melted butter (2tbsp)
2 tbsp caster sugar (3 tbsp)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (1 tsp)
Optional: 2 tbsp warmed apricot jam

For the base:
100g plain flour (150g)
50g unsalted butter (75g)
50g caster sugar (75g)
40g amaretti biscuits (60g)
  • To make the base, put all the ingredients in a food processor and process to a fine breadcrumb consistency. Press into a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin.
  • Arrange the apples in an attractive pattern on top. Brush them with the melted butter (and brush over some apricot jam if you like, to give the tart a sticky glaze), and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar.
  • Place in an oven preheated to 200C/Gas Mark 6 and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the apples are golden brown. Serve at room temperature.
Serve with a generous dollop of clotted cream, ice cream, or creme fraiche.