Saturday, July 09, 2011

Chocolate cheesecake

150g digestive biscuits
75g butter
3tsp gelatine*
500g ricotta or cottage cheese (drain the cottage cheese)
1 397g tin condensed milk (about 300ml)
200ml double cream, whipped until slightly thickened
100g dark chocolate

Rub a tiny bit of oil over a 20cm flan dish, or line and grease a 20cm springform cake tin (see here).

I whizzed the biscuits in a food processor, cut the butter into pieces, threw them in, and whizzed again until all the crumbs were buttery. But this base did not have the crunchiness I like. So my advice is to melt the butter in a saucepan over a very gentle heat, remove the pan from the heat, tip in the biscuit crumbs, and mix thoroughly with a spoon. Tip the crumbs into the dish or tin, and compact them with the back of a spoon. Put the dish or tin into the freezer to firm up.

Put about 4tbsp of cold water into a small saucepan. Sprinkle over the gelatine, and swirl the water about until the powder is thoroughly soaked. Set aside.

In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, condensed milk, and cream until thoroughly blended. (You may prefer to use 500ml cream alone, without the condensed milk. In which case, throw in 60g caster sugar too.)

Place a bowl in a saucepan of gently simmering water so that the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Break up the chocolate, throw it in, and stir until melted. Remove from the heat.

Add a few spoonfuls of the cheese and cream mixture to the chocolate - stirring them together will help to release the chocolate from the side of the bowl. Tip this mixture into the bowl of cheese and cream, and blend.

Put the saucepan with the gelatine on to the lowest possible flame, and stir. As soon as the powder dissolves and the mixture clarifies, remove it from the heat. (Boiling gelatine disables its setting qualities.) Keep stirring until thoroughly dissolved. Pour the gelatine into the cheese mixture, and blend thoroughly.

Remove the biscuit base from the freezer, and pour over the cheese mixture, levelling it with a knife. Cover the dish or tin with foil (create a tent above the filling if you're using a flan dish), and refrigerate for at least three hours.

This cheesecake is based loosely on one in CLASSIC CHEESE COOKERY by Peter Graham (Grub Street). Graham also includes 3 limes, creme de menthe, and mint leaves; his cheesecake contains a hefty 280g of chocolate. The disadvantage of my quantity is that the pale brown of the filling is not particularly attractive. But 280g would be a bit much, I think. You could leave out the chocolate altogether, and just have lime juice (and zest), or lemon, or a combination of the two. Three fruit in total, I think.

*Graham's recipe has 20g of gelatine, which is far more than I used, or needed, or would have needed even had I included the lime juice. Different gelatines (and particularly different leaf gelatines) have different strengths. Check the recommended quantities on the packet. If you use leaf gelatine (three leaves may be the equivalent of 3tsp), you can prepare it in the same way: soaking, and then warming very gently.

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