Friday, 21 February 2014

Lime and Advocaat Cheesecake

Now we're talking (dirty)...

Cheesecake has never been my favourite dessert - not least because there are far more bad cheesecakes than good. Claggy, flavourless, thick, white, grainy gunge on top of soggy, tasteless biscuits with some token sickly sweet fruit or syrup slopped or swirled on the top. No thanks, not for me. I'd rather cheese and biscuits than that (and I LOVE a good dessert).

So, I decided to make the kind of cheesecake that I'd like to order... the kind you wouldn't be disappointed with...

A biscuit base with a touch of spicy, gingery heat and chopped nuts making sure it's crunchy, not soggy.

A silky-smooth creamy filling, nicely set with citrus-y notes and laced with Advocaat liqueur.

An outrageously zingy, zesty topping - the perfect compliment to creamy and crunchy.

Mouth watering yet? Read on for the recipe...

Andrea's Lime and Advocaat Cheesecake

Serves 8-10, a little challenging - fantastic for dinner parties, not fantastic for fast days! My own original recipe...

11g pack powdered gelatine (e.g. Dr Oetker) , plus 1 tsp
170g gingernut biscuits, crushed to crumbs
75g toasted chopped nuts (e.g. almonds, macadamia, hazlenuts or similar)
85g butter , melted
250g tub Quark (or extra light cream cheese)
250g tub mascarpone
150ml Advocat (or more to taste! But add extra gelatine)
142ml pot double cream , lightly whipped
Juice of 2-3 limes (to taste)
2 eggs
140g golden caster sugar 

For the lime jelly topping
1 heaped tsp powdered gelatine (or two leaves)
Approx 6-8 limes to yield 150ml lime juice (take strips of zest off with a zesting tool before juicing, for optional decoration / confit lime zest – see below)
Caster sugar to taste to sweeten the lime juice OR syrup from confit lime (see below) if making
Optional: fine confit lime zest (see below)

White chocolate, melted (optional)
And/or any of the following: Whipped cream, candied/crystalised/fresh lime slices, lime zest, confit lime zest (see below), kiwi sliced, kaffir lime leaves, physalis,.. be creative!


1. Turn the oven on to gas mark 4 (180 degrees c) to heat up. Measure 5 tbsp cold water (or lime juice) in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the gelatine and leave to soak for 5 mins until spongy. Now stand the bowl of gelatine in a pan of gently simmering water and leave until it turns clear. 

2. Meanwhile, mix the biscuit crumbs, chopped nuts and butter really well, then press on the base of a loose-bottomed 20cm cake tin lined with baking paper. Put in the pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes, remove, leave to cool, then chill. 

3. Beat the quark, mascarpone and Advocat together with the lime juice to taste, then stir in the gelatine and fold in the lightly whipped cream. 

4. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl until thick, pale and foamy, then fold into the cheesecake mixture, taste, and pour onto the chilled biscuit base (you may not need to use all of the mixture if you've added extra advocat etc.). Chill for 3-4 hrs (or overnight) or until set. 

5. For the jelly, sprinkle the gelatine over 5 tbsp of the lime juice (or cut up two leaves of gelatine), then put the bowl in a pan of gently simmering water until dissolved then add back to the rest of the lime juice and add sugar (or stock syrup from confit lime – see below) to taste. Remember it's going on top of a rich and creamy cheesecake in a thin layer, so you want it quite tart rather than overly sweet. Optional – add grated lime zest or fine confit lime zest to the juice for a nice effect on top of the cheesecake, and extra lime-iness! Cool the mixture. When cold, carefully spoon the lime mixture on top of the cheesecake to make a thin layer - don't pour it on or you will disturb the creamy layer. Chill until set. Will keep in the fridge for 2 days. 

6. To serve the cheesecake, wrap a hot tea towel round the outside of the tin (or blast the sides quickly with a blow torch!), then gently ease out the cake.

7. Ideas to decorate: Put the melted white chocolate into a piping bag (or a sandwich bag with a tiny corner snipped off) then pipe in swirly patterns on top of the jelly. Option: and/or pipe whipped cream around the edge, and decorate with any of the above suggestions. Serve in modest slices, possibly with confit lime zest  in syrup
(see below), a few fresh raspberries, and whipped cream or a quenelle of clotted cream on the side.

Many cooks avoid using gelatine, but it's easy when you know how. The trick is to add it to cold liquid, leave it to soak until spongy and then stand the bowl in a frying pan of simmering water until the gelatine becomes clear. 

Confit lime zest
(Use the zest from the limes in the recipe above before you juice them)

250g caster sugar
250ml water
Zest of 4-6 limes – either peeled off with potato peeler (not too much of the white pith) then cut into julienne sticks, or pared off in strips with the large cutting piece of a zester (pieces approximately 2mm wide)

Optional (to add to the jelly): zest of 2-3 limes – either pared off with the fine blades of a zester, or finely grated. Keep this separate.

1. Blanch the thick lime zest parings/julienne in boiling water for 2 minutes then remove.

2. Make the stock syrup. Bring the water and sugar to the boil, and then boil for 5 minutes.

3. Add the (thick) lime zest parings/julienne to the stock syrup, bring back to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Then either leave to cool in the syrup and serve with the cheesecake/use to decorate, OR if you have also prepared finely pared lime zest...

4. Leave to cool slightly, then remove the zest from the stock syrup and reserve.

5. Bring the stock syrup back to the boil, add the finely pared lime zest (do not do this will grated lime zest – you won't get it out again!) and simmer for a minute. 

6. Using a fine sieve, strain the zest out, pouring the stock syrup back over the thick lime zest parings you reserved earlier, leaving to cool. Imediately add the fine zest to the lime juice you are using to make the jelly and stir well to seperate. This gives a nice effect to the jelly when it's set. If you have finely grated the lime zest, you can just add it to the jelly as it is.

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