Christmas Cheesecake with a Fresh Plum Topping
Wanted something really Christmassy for today to go with this delicious Douglas Green Sunkissed Natural Sweet Rosé nv and Jane-Anne Hobbs came up with the perfect match.
What you’ll need…
1 x 200 g packet tennis or shortbread biscuits, or biscuits of your choice
80 g unsalted butter, melted
3 x 250 g tubs good-quality cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups (375 ml) caster sugar
3 extra-large free-range eggs
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract or essence
finely grated zest of a small lemon
1 Tbsp (15 ml) cornflour
For the plum purée
7 just-ripe, juicy red plums
1 cup (250 ml) water
½ cup (125 ml) white sugar
a thumb-length strip of lemon zest
For the glaze
1½ cups (375 ml) plum purée
1 Tbsp (15 ml) water
1½ tsp (7.5 ml) powdered gelatine
Heat the oven to 170 ºC, or 160 ºC if you have a fan-assisted oven. Break up the biscuits and whizz them to fine crumbs in a food processor. Stir in the melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly over the base of a non-stick 24-cm springform cake tin.
Use the side of a small glass gently to flatten the biscuit base, rolling it around in a circle. Chill the crust while you make the filling.
Put the cream cheese and caster sugar into a large bowl and, using a rotary beater, whisk until just smooth and combined. Beat in the eggs one by one, then whisk in the vanilla, lemon zest and sifted cornflour.
Place a large sheet of heavy-duty tin foil on the counter, and another one the same size on top of that. Place the springform tin on top and bring up the sides of the foil to make a nest around the tin. This will prevent water from the bain-marie seeping into the tin. Fill a large roasting tin three-quarters full with warm water.
Pour the filling into the crumb crust and place the tin in its water bath, making sure the water level is not so high that it will flow over the edges of the foil. Bake for an hour to an hour and a quarter (this will depend on the efficiency of your oven. It is done when it is slightly risen, pulling away at the edges, lightly freckled, and wobbles reluctantly in the centre when you give it a shake). Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the cheesecake cool completely in the oven. Refrigerate, in its tin, for at least four hours.
Make the purée right away. Cut the plums in half and remove the stones. Put the water and sugar into a saucepan and bring gently to the boil, stirring occasionally. When all the sugar has dissolved, add the plum halves, turn down the heat and simmer for about 8 minutes, or until the plums are just beginning to collapse. Remove the lemon strip, allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then whizz to a fine purée. Taste the mixture, and add a few drops of lemon juice if you think it’s not tart enough. Strain (or leave it slightly coarse), cover and refrigerate until ice-cold.
To glaze the cheesecake, put the water in a little heat-proof bowl and sprinkle the gelatine over it. Set aside for a minute to sponge. Place the bowl in a pot of simmering water (the water should come half-way up the sides) and stir occasionally as the gelatine melts. When the liquid is clear, remove the bowl from the water. Measure exactly one and a half cups (375 ml) of the very cold plum purée into a mixing bowl and stir in the melted gelatine, scraping every last drop of gelatine into the bowl, and mixing very well. Set aside for 10 minutes to thicken.
Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and run a knife round the edges. It will have shrunken away from the tin a little. Drizzle the plum purée over the centre of the cheesecake, letting it ooze lazily to the edges and trickle down the sides. If the glaze slides right off the top, the plum mixture isn’t cold enough, and you will need to let it chill in the fridge for a while.
Refrigerate for another two hours, or until the jelly has set. Gently release the cake from its ring, slide it onto a plate and cut into sections with a knife that you’ve dipped in hot water. Note: you can try sliding a palette knife between the springform base and the crust to loosen the entire cake, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk.
Makes one 24-cm cake; serves 8.
– Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature when you make the filling. Cold cream cheese is difficult to whisk until quite smooth, and you may end up over-beating the batter.
– If you forget to take the cream cheese out of the fridge, you can warm the tubs (all at once) in the microwave, in 30-second bursts.
– If you’d like very thick glaze, you can apply a second layer once the first has set, using the left-over plum purée. Use one teaspoon (5 ml) of gelatine per 250 ml purée.
Michael’s wine recommendation – CLICK HERE