I’m not generally a big fan of baked cheesecakes but I made this at the request of my daughter Lucy who was coming home to visit for a weekend.
Usually a week before she arrives I get a text listing all the food she would like me [or her Dad] to make for her. All of them are family favourites, basically homemade comfort food and I obviously spoil her feeding her as much as possible in the hope she will come back and visit again very soon.
Anyway… this cheesecake may well have changed my mind about baked cheesecakes. Its base has the aromatic warmth of star anise and cinnamon running through the digestives, its then topped with a light, fluffy, but yet sturdy, cheesecake filling laced with sour cream and passionfruit fruit and finished off with pineapple in a sweet syrup. Absolutely heavenly.
Miss you Lucy. Come home again soon xxx.
40g Flaked Almonds
130g Digestive Biscuits, roughly broken
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Ground Star Anise (about 2 star anise finely ground in a spice grinder)
80g Unsalted Butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
140g Strained Passionfruit Pulp or the blitzed pulp of 12 medium passionfruit
750g Cream Cheese
200g Caster Sugar
80g Soured Cream
3 Large Eggs, plus 3 extra large egg yolks, lightly whisked
1 Small Pineapple (700g), peeled, core removed and flesh cut into roughly 1,5cm
¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp Ground Star Anise (about 1 star anise finely ground in a spice grinder)
½ tsp Vanilla Pod, sliced in half lengthways and seeds scraped
65g Caster Sugar
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tbsp Water
Pulp and seeds from 2 medium passionfruit
Make as 8 individual cakes in 8cm round cake rings or one page cake in a 23cm round springform tin.
Note: The cheesecakes must be made the day before serving, to allow the filling to chill and set overnight (the pineapple topping is best made and added on the day of serving)
Preheat the oven to 170 °C/150°C Fan/Gas Mark 3. Lightly grease the sides of eight individual 8cm wide cake rings, and line the sides with baking parchment – you want the paper to rise 1cm above the top of the ring – then place on a large parchment-lined baking tray. If using a large springform tin, grease and line the base and sides – again, the paper should rise 1cm above the sides of the tin – place the tin on a baking tray and set aside.
Place the almonds on a parchment-lined baking tray and roast for 6 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
For the base, place the digestive biscuits in a food processor and blitz to form fine crumbs: the consistency should be that of dried breadcrumbs. Tip into a medium bowl and add the almonds, ground cinnamon and ground star anise. Add the melted butter and stir well to combine. Spoon the crumbs into the tins, using your hands to press them into the base. Even out the crust with the back of a spoon or the base of a glass and set aside in the fridge for around 30 minutes to chill.
If making your own passionfruit pulp, strain the blitzed pulp through a fine-mesh (or muslin-lined) sieve, discarding the seeds. You should have about 140ml of pulp. Set aside.
Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium speed until smooth, then add the soured cream and mix until just combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and, with the machine still running, pour in the whisked eggs and yolks in a steady stream. Mix thoroughly, then add the passionfruit pulp and gently combine. Pour the filling into the chilled crumb-lined cake tins: it should rise to the top of the rings or about 2cm from the top if making one large cake. Bake for 25 minutes, or 55–60 minutes if making one large cake, until the edges are set but the centre remains slightly wobbly when the tray is gently shaken. Turn off the oven but leave the cheesecakes inside for 30 minutes, or 1 hour for the large cake, with the door propped open with a wooden spoon. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely, before wrapping the tray in cling film and refrigerating overnight: the cheesecake is very soft so will not cut without chilling.
On the day of serving, preheat the oven to 200 °C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Place the pineapple cubes in a medium bowl with the cinnamon, star anise and vanilla pod and seeds. Toss well and spread out on a parchment-lined tray. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until lightly roasted, then set aside.
To make the ‘dry’ caramel (see under 'sugar', Baker's Tips and Notes), place the sugar in a medium sauté pan over a medium-high heat. It will seem as though nothing is happening until suddenly a small section around the edge will begin to melt and turn brown. It may even smoke a little, but don’t worry and don’t stir: continue to heat, tilting the pan often and swirling gently so that the sugar continues to melt and brown evenly until the caramel is the colour of golden syrup. As soon as the caramel is ready, remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour in the lemon juice and water. It will splutter and spit, so take care. Swirl again over the heat to melt the caramel if the addition of the lemon juice has hardened it. Bring to the boil, stir and reduce for about 30–60 seconds to form a thick syrup, then add the pineapple cubes. Stir to combine and set aside to cool.
When ready to serve, run a small knife around the base of the tins, releasing the biscuit base, and gently push the cheesecakes up and out of their moulds. Remove the paper and transfer to a serving platter. Spoon the caramelized pineapple and syrup on to the centre of the cheesecakes, then spoon the passionfruit pulp and seeds on top of that. Serve immediately.
This recipe has been taken from “Sweet, by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh
Sweet Cookbook: https://ottolenghi.co.uk/books/sweet-cookbook-shop
Ottolenghi Website: https://ottolenghi.co.uk
Ottolenghi Store: https://ottolenghi.co.uk/shop-online