150 g unsalted butter , melted, plus extra for greasing
250 g digestive biscuits , crushed
115 g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour
900 g full-fat cream cheese , at room temperature
2 large free-range eggs
115 ml double cream
1 vanilla pod , scored lengthways and seeds removed, or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon , zest of
1 orange , zest of
For the cherry compote
400 g stoned cherries
3 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
1 swig port or whisky , optional
icing sugar, for dusting
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This recipe somehow made its way on to the menu in the Fifteen Trattoria (I don’t know of many Italian trattorias that have American cheesecake on their menus!) and I’m glad that it did because it’s absolutely delicious.
As you can see, the ingredients are all pretty everyday things. However, my tip for getting the very best out of this recipe is to make sure that you try and get the best ingredients that you possibly can.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4, and grease and line the bottom and sides of a 24cm springform cake tin. Mix the biscuits and butter in a bowl, press into the base of the prepared tin and cook for 10 minutes. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Turn the oven up to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Combine the sugar and cornflour in a bowl. Add the cream cheese and beat, ideally with an electric whisk, until creamy. Add the eggs and beat well. Gradually add the cream, beating until smooth, then beat in the vanilla seeds or extract and lemon and orange zest.
Scrape the mixture on to the biscuit base, and gently shake it to level out the surface. Put the cheesecake in the centre of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the filling has set around the edges. (A piece of foil over the top will stop it browning too much.) Let it cool at room temperature and serve after 2 or 3 hours, or, for a slightly firmer texture, put it in the fridge until it’s nice and cold.
Before serving, put the cherries in a pan, sprinkle over the sugar and add a splash of water. Put on a low to medium heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. If you’ve got some port or whisky handy, feel free to add some. When the compote has reduced down it may be a little dry, so add a splash of water to loosen it. Remove from the heat and let it cool down, then serve spooned over the cheesecake with a dusting of icing sugar.