Monday 24 July 2017

Eton mess cheesecake

Someone recently informed me that our taste buds change every few years, which means food we might not have liked previously can suddenly and inexplicably become agreeable to us. This leaves me both pleased and peevish: pleased because it means there is more food in the world for me to rejoice in eating; peevish because my hips do not need more food in the world for me to rejoice in eating.

The discovery about our taste buds serves to explain why over the last year I have come to love meringue, in particular when it comes with lashings of whipped cream and fruit. Historically, it’s something that I’ve always turned my nose up at, feeling it was nothing more than bite after bite of pure sugar. I still remember to this day visiting a friend for dinner years ago and being so excited about dessert, only to find out she’d made us huge sundae glasses full of Eton Mess. My heart sank and I politely ate a couple of mouthfuls of it before making the wholly implausible excuse that I was too full to possibly eat any more (me, full? Yeah, right!) Oh, how immature my taste buds were back then.

Nowadays, I find myself positively craving meringue as a dessert. So much so that when Dr D recently took me to The Ivy (dah-ling!) for a celebratory meal, I dismissed all of the desserts I would usually drool over: salted caramel fondant with crème fraiche; burnt banana and butterscotch tatin – next time tatin, I promise, next time!; and cherry and almond pie. Instead, I knew immediately that I wanted the pavlova. Whooooaaaa Nelly, was it a good choice! One of the best desserts I’ve eaten at a restaurant. Ever. Even the fact that Michael Sheen was sat a few tables down from us couldn’t deter me from shamelessly digging into my pud with gusto.

This recently-acquired taste of mine means that when I came across the idea of an Eton Mess cheesecake, it was something I knew I wanted to make. My version has a thicker biscuit base than standard cheesecakes because, as I’ve said in the past, generally I find the cheese to biscuit ratio in cheesecakes too high, leaving me feeling cheated of Digestive; we none of us should be cheated of Digestive. After that, it’s a pretty simple process of mixing up the cheese filling and adding in the flavour combinations you might want (in this instance lemon and raspberry), before the crowning glory – the Eton Mess topping.

This is a fun dessert to make: it’s easy, with no baking required, and it looks and tastes great. Make it. Make it now.

Adapted from Olive magazine's Eton mess cheesecake

For the cheesecake:
  • 400g Digestive biscuits (Graham Crackers)
  • 120g unsalted butter, melted
  • 300ml double cream
  • 220g full-fat cream cheese
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 250g lemon curd
  • 200g raspberries
For the Eton mess topping:
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2tbsp icing sugar
  • 200g lemon curd
  • 225g raspberries
  • 3-4 palm sized meringues, broken into pieces

To make the cheesecake, roughly break up the Digestive biscuits into a food processor and then blitz into crumbs. Pour in the melted butter and blitz again to combine so that the biscuits have a sand-like texture.

Tip the biscuit mixture into a 20cm loose-bottomed springform tin and press down with your fingers to create a tightly-packed and even biscuity base. Chill in the fridge whilst you make the cheese filling.

Place the double cream, cream cheese and mascarpone in a large bowl and beat them together with a spatula or a wooden spoon until combined and thick but not too stiff.

Fold in the lemon curd until mixed in.

Spoon about half of the cheese filling into the tin, spreading it as evenly as you can over the biscuit base.

Next scatter over the raspberries, pushing them down a bit into the cheese, before spooning on the remaining cheese filling. Again, spread it as evenly as you can using a spatula or an offset palette knife.

Place the cheesecake back in the fridge to chill and set for at least 3-4 hours; preferably overnight.

To make the Eton mess topping, whip the double cream with 1tbsp of icing sugar to soft peaks (it should be thick but happily plop off a spoon).

Gently fold in the lemon curd using a large metal spoon or a spatula.

Separately, in a small bowl, using a fork or the back of a spoon, mash about 100g of the raspberries with the other 1tbsp of icing sugar to make a puree.

Just before you are ready to serve the cheesecake, remove it from the fridge and, carefully taking it out of its springform tin, place it on a serving dish.

To finish, pile the whipped lemony cream, meringue pieces and remaining berries onto the middle of the cheesecake (push some of the meringue pieces and raspberries into the cream as you're piling it all on). Lastly, drizzle or spoon over the puree.