I love cheesecake and I feel as though I’m not alone.
I particularly love home-made cheesecakes – the bought ones leave me a bit cold, generally.
In our family, baked cheesecake has always been the preference over the fridge-set style with condensed milk and gelatin. Probably for the best, because gelatin freaks me out. Too little: won’t set. Too much: rubber. STREEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSFUL.
Every so often, an occasion would call for a cheesecake and I’d schlepp out to buy packets of sweet biscuits and drag out the 100000kg food processor to smash them up and make the base with melted butter.
Somehow, I’d always have to double the amount of biscuit base because my 250g would never stretch as far as the recipe said it should. In my humble opinion, there’s no such thing as too much biscuit base, but it was just a messy process.
One fine day I didn’t have any packets of sweet biscuits as they’re not a staple for us. I couldn’t be bothered leaving the house to buy any, so I put my thinking cap on. I pulled out a stick of butter, some plain flour, coconut and brown sugar. I mixed together 125g of melted butter, a cup of the flour and half a cup each of the coconut and sugar. This is the same slice base I use all the time for caramel slice.
I pressed the biscuit dough into a greased springform tin and baked it at 180 degrees on the conventional setting for about twenty minutes or until browned. Cue golden, coconutty deliciousness.
Once cooled, I simply poured the cheesecake batter on top of the base and baked at 150 for about 45-50 minutes until set but still with a slight wobble. This is now my favourite way of making baked cheesecake and I think it’s way easier than buying sweet biscuits and dragging out the food processor!
This recipe is also great for ‘cheesecake cupcakes’, or individual cheesecakes. Simple press a good bit of the biscuit dough into muffin papers in a muffin tray, or even mini muffin papers for a mini muffin tray. Bake for about 10 minutes, then top the cooled biscuit mixture with the cheesecake batter and bake for about twenty minutes at the lower temperature until just about set.
Once cooled you can top these with melted chocolate, fresh berries, or dust them with nutmeg and icing sugar. You’re only limited by your imagination! I’ve even mixed some cocoa into both the base and the cheesecake batter to make chocolate cheesecake bites for cocktail parties: very yum!
1 cup of plain flour
½ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of desiccated or shredded coconut
500g of cream cheese – 2x 250g blocks are best, but the spreadable stuff will do in a pinch.
300ml of sour cream or pouring cream
¾ cup of caster sugar
Vanilla bean paste, extract or scraped vanilla bean
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees, conventional mode.
Melt the butter and mix in the flour, brown sugar and coconut. Add some cinnamon or ginger, if you’re feeling spicy.
Press into the greased base of a springform tin or a loose-based fluted cheesecake pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden and smelling delicious.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool. If you’re in a hurry, you can pop it into the fridge or freezer to speed things up.
In a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer, whip up the cream cheese, cream of choice, sugar, vanilla and lemon. Add in one egg at a time, whipping well in between each one. The mixture should be well-incorporated and a bit fluffy.
At this stage I sometimes spray the baking tin again with cooking spray or rub with oil/butter. Pour in the cheesecake batter over the biscuit base and bake at 150 degrees for about 45-50 minutes until very close to set; with a bit of a jiggle.
Leave to cool in the oven with the door open for as long as you can be bothered to – up to two hours. My clever Mum informs me that this is to avoid cracking the cheesecake with extreme temperature changes. She’s so smart! I could never figure out that omnipresent instruction!
Anyhow, last time my poor cheesecake only got 30 minutes cooling in the oven before she went straight in the fridge and it was fine – no cracking. Most recipes suggest cooling overnight – I’d say a minimum of 4 hours would do the trick.
If you've used a round springform, you then run a sharp knife under hot water, dry it and run it around the rim of the set cheesecake. Un-clip the springform et voila, the cheesecake should come away from the tin neatly. Run the same knife under the base to loosen, say a prayer, then use an egg flip or cake lifter to lift the cheesecake off the base and on to a serving plate or stand. If you're not confident enough for this part, feel free to serve it on the base and lift each slice individually with a cake slice as you cut them.
If you've used a loose-base tart tin, simply press up underneath the cheesecake and 'pop' the cheesecake out of the surrounds. Follow the same procedure as with the springform tin to loosen the cheesecake from the base.
A dusting of nutmeg (fresh grated is sublime) and the cheesecake is all ready to be enjoyed as is, or with fresh berries. Feel free to forgo the spice if that's not for you, and decorate as you wish. There's a picture below of one I drizzled with melted dark chocolate and fresh raspberries for a beautiful friend's birthday in February.
You really ought to bake this cheesecake, friends. It is seriously good.
Next time I’m going to experiment with swirling a raspberry or blueberry coulis through the batter before baking. Donna Hay had a blueberry swirl cheesecake in one of her early 2000's cookbooks that I baked in about ’03: I remember it being delectable.
Do you have a go-to cheesecake recipe?
Birthday Cheesecake for Sar x
Father's Day Cheesecake for Royboy.