Monday, 21 May 2012

Apricot and Orange Cheesecake

Recipe One Hundred & Ninety Six:  Page 384.

I love a good cheesecake. In fact I don't think I know anyone who doesn't adore a buttery biscuit base and creamy cheesecake topping. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! This particular recipe sounded delightfully fruity and was sure to be packed full of flavour. I was left deeply distraught when I looked past the recipe title and read through the list of ingredients. I wouldn't be able to eat it – sob!

Firstly, the cheesecake is set with gelatine. I am a vegetarian so wouldn't have felt happy about eating the end result. However, I could no doubt have found a substitute such as arrowroot and still turned out a decent cheesecake. My problem was that it contained cream cheese and raw eggs. Raw eggs are a big ‘no no’ when pregnant. As my hopes of gorging on cheesecake were dashed, I decided to go ahead and use gelatine. This meant that there was no need for me to alter the recipe. It was difficult to summon up much enthusiasm to slog over something I wouldn't be able to sample! It was a real effort to force myself into the kitchen.

Neil had to take Isaac into the living room so that he wouldn't be around to witness the making of the biscuit base. Isaac adores biscuits in any form but particularly digestives. There was no way I could get the packet out in front of him!!! First of all I melted a small quantity of butter in a saucepan. While the butter gave in to the heat I grabbed a large freezer bag and popped in the biscuits. Not one piece of biscuit escaped the might of my rolling pin! Once I had a bag of crumbs I could tip them into the pan of melted butter. I quickly added a little Demerara sugar to sweeten the mixture and then stirred to combine. I pressed the thin layer of delicious biscuit crumble into a nine inch tin. This was going to be a big cheesecake. Neil would certainly have a lot to get through!!

I left the biscuit base to set while I got on with what appeared to be a complicated topping. There seemed to be a lot to contend with! First of all I found a small bowl and measured in a little water. I was to sprinkle over some powdered gelatine. I glanced at the instructions on the box. Just to confuse they differed from Mary's entirely! Of course I didn't dare deviate from the recipe; I obediently followed Mary's precise instructions! While I left the gelatine to 'sponge', I retrieved a packet of dried apricots from the cupboard and fished a carton of orange juice from the fridge. You can always be sure to find orange juice in our fridge. I religiously drink a glass a day for my goodness! I was too lazy to dig out another saucepan, so I simply rinsed the biscuit crumbs from the one I had already used. I tipped in the whole apricots and poured over the orange juice. Once over the heat, I had to bring the juice to the boil then leave to simmer for five minutes or until the apricots were suitably soft. Mine must have been as tough as old boots as they took about twenty minutes!

By now Isaac was sitting in his high chair (also known as his throne) observing my baking activities. As he munched through his pile of toast he took an interest in what I was getting up to. He politely said ‘Hello’ to the honey as I measured three tablespoonfuls into the blender and ‘Goodbye’ when I placed the jar back on the shelf. He was forlorn to discover that the two pots I took from the fridge were not yoghurts. However, he was easily distracted with the lid from the cream cheese and he watched keenly as I scraped the contents of the pot into the blender. Next it was time for the sour cream. I had originally bought some to accompany a chilli which never came to fruition. It was a good job that I'd found a use for it as it was just about to go beyond its best before date!!

Now for the eggs, which needed to be separated. I collected the whites in a clean bowl and placed them to one side. The yolks headed straight to the blender. Something was missing; I looked around the kitchen but couldn't think what it was. Thank goodness I re-checked the recipe as I nearly left out the key ingredient! I hastily tipped the apricot and orange juice into the blender. Mary doesn't mention draining off the orange juice so I could only presume that it should be included. I hoped I wouldn't live to regret the decision. The concoction in the blender did look rather runny! After a quick blitz the resulting mixture resembled a delicious milkshake and smelt divine.

Next I had to sit the small bowl of gelatine over an equally small pan of simmering water. It didn't take long for the spongy gelatine to melt into a liquid. I was then able to pour it into the cream cheese and apricot mixture. Suddenly I didn't fancy that milkshake anymore!

The last instruction was to whisk up the egg whites adding caster sugar a little at a time. My feet were really beginning to ache by this point! Once the meringue was very stiff I could fold in the apricot mixture. It was a challenge to combine the two together. It was some time before the lumps of meringue disappeared.

Now I was ready to pour the mixture over the top of the biscuit base. There was a lot of topping and some sloshed up the sides of the tin as I placed it into the fridge. I decided to leave it to set overnight and add the finishing touches the following day. I needn't have worried that the mixture was too runny as, half an hour later, it was perfectly firm. The gelatine had certainly done its job!

The following day and it was time to finish off the cheesecake. I just needed to warm some apricot jam and spread it over the top. Mary says to mark the cheesecake into ten wedges, whip up some double cream and place a dollop on top of each wedge. I was relieved that there was no need to dig out a piping bag! It didn't look very tidy or professional. However, Neil would be the only one eating it and I didn't think he'd care! For decoration I was instructed to add a small ratafia biscuit on each section of cheesecake. I had not been able to find any mini ones in the shops, so I'd settled for some cheap little oat biscuits. They looked kind of similar! I made sure I saved a few for myself so that I had something to nibble on while Neil stuffed the cheesecake!

Neil took his job as chief tester very seriously. He reported back that the biscuit base was delicious but there wasn't enough of it! The cheesecake topping was lovely and light and very moussey. The flavour of apricot was a little overpowering, but he thought that this was due to the thin layer of jam spread on top. He thought it to be an unnecessary addition! I think he enjoyed it as he happily wolfed down two slices! Isaac ate a good quantity too and he told me that it was very tasty, so at least he can help his Daddy out. I'm currently working my way through the oat biscuits and cream which decorate the top – yummy!
Wish I could of had a slice!!!

1 comment:

  1. The jam on top sounds lovely! Wish I could try a slice!