- Things set on fire: 1 hand-mixer (almost)
- Salvage Operations: 1 batch lemon curd
- Provisions: Dark Chocolate Royale Biscuits. Many…
I was putting off making the Cheesecake of Doom (so-called because I had never made a cheesecake and there seemed to be 1001 ways to make one, and then Nigella was talking about baths (I have to bathe my cheesecake!?!) and it all seemed rather difficult and bothersome. And then my Mum asked for one for her birthday. No more excuses!
I chose a no-bake (no bath!) cheesecake for my first attempt, and given my continuing love affair with lemons ( I’m a tart tart, yep, I really did just write that, sorry) I decided on this yummy Lemon Ripple Cheesecake from Taste.com.au. I already knew how to make lemon curd, so I was half-way there, right?
- 250g pkt Arnott’s Nice biscuits (You, erm, might want to buy two packets in case there are any…unforeseen circumstances. Oh and buy some choccy ones for yourself. Go on.)
- 125g unsalted butter, melted (Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and buy the salted, it’s not like this is health food)
- 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind (Grate more just in case. I use a micro-plane zester. Best. Investment. Ever).
- 60ml (1/4 cup) cold water
- 3 tsp gelatine powder (or non-animal substitute)
- 2 x 250g pkts cream cheese, at room temperature (Philadelphia is pretty much the only brand I’ve seen here in Oz).
- 140g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
- 2 tbs fresh lemon juice (I added 3-4 more, but I am a tart Tart! Sorry. Again)
- 500ml (2 cups) thickened cream
- 2 egg whites (Buy extra eggs in case, like me, you inevitably stuff up when separating those damned yolks)
- 180g (1/2 cup) lemon curd (make extra and you can make a mini- lemon tart as you go if you are motivated, or just eat it in guilty spoonfuls…ahem)
Taste.com.au didn’t provide a separate recipe for the lemon curd, so I used this one from a Lemon Meringue Pie recipe . Later on I would rue that decision…sigh:
Lemon Curd Ingredients
- 50g (1/3 cup) cornflour
- 125ml (1/2 cup) water
- 250ml (1 cup) fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup caster sugar (Misleading damned recipe states two – you only need ONE CUP. ONE CUP! Shakes fist)
- 60g butter, coarsely chopped (I used unsalted but I don’t think it matters, your arteries will already be straining after the cream cheese/cream filling hits them)
- 4 eggs, separated
Step 1. Be Well Provisioned
Long day ahead adventuring, so better start with a snack to stay alert, ooh some of these will do:
Step 2. Zesty Biscuity Goodness
Pfaff about with your shiny new food-processor for an hour. Repeat Step 1. After finally figuring out how to turn it on without harming yourself or others, you might like to zest some lemons (and squeeze your lemon juice for the curd later on). Follow this up with a very cathartic crushing of an entire packet of Nice biscuits in your shiny new machine, breaking them up a little first. Alternatively you can do the whole rolling pin and zip-lock bag thingy:
After they have been pulverised into a fine biscuity pulp, add your melted butter and the lemon zest and give it a quick mix until the butter is evenly spread through the biscuits and the mixture has an even consistency. Recipe says 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, I say 2 tablespoons dammit – worked out fine.
Step 3. Hope to God it Doesn’t Look Like This
Ok. So now comes the part when you discover that either the recipe is wrong or your brand new springform pan is slightly larger in circumference then required and you’re an eejit without enough zesty biscuity goodness to cover your tin base. Dump all those crumbs into the tin and press them down using a straight edged glass, and hope to god it doesn’t look like this:
If it does, Don’t Panic! Grab your ever handy hitch-hiking towel (did I mention I’m a geek?), wipe the sweat from your brow and open that second pack of Nice biscuits you bought just in case you stuffed up (clever huh?). Repeat Step 1 and Step 2.
Now you will have more then enough crumbs for your crust, and plenty leftover for a Mini-Cheesecake using a small quiche tin if you want to do a test version. I recommend mini testers with any leftover filling etc if you want to know what the final product tastes like before your loved ones start pulling faces….
Cover the biscuit crust in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to chill so that the crust sets for at least 30 mins.
Step 4. My Darling Lemon Curd
So now it’s time to make lemon curd, which has nothing to do with Miss Muffet and is more like a wonderful dreamy lemony custard – it is what is used in most Citron/Lemon tarts. If you like you could make this up first thing, just keep it at room temperature as you want it to mix well with the cheese and cream later on.
Start by separating those 4 egg yolks, and if for some reason you end up with too much egg white goo or shell in your yolk-only bowl, start again. This is why we buy extra eggs!. Don’t forget to save two eggs worth of egg whites for later in the recipe too.
Now, the taste.com.au recipe states under ingredients that you need two cups of caster sugar for the lemon filling. DO NOT BE FOOLED! This is contradicted by the instructions further down which then state you only use half the sugar for the lemon curd – the rest was for the meringue topping. D’oh!
Unfortunately I had already sifted two cups of sugar with my cornflour into a bowl before I realised that the recipe is stoopid! And yes, that was the last of the caster sugar not destined for the cheesecake filling, so no do-overs.
So, use ONE CUP of caster sugar. I was able to salvage my mixture by halving it, added a dash more cornflour and stirring it into the saucepan with the water and lemon juice until it thickened (crossing my fingers as I did).
After about 3 mins I added the melted butter and egg yolks and whisked them into the saucepan mixture, resulting in a lovely, albeit lumpy, bright yellow lemon curd. If you’ve got lumps in your curd pour it through a fine sieve as I did to get them out, pressing down with a spoon:
Hopefully this will reveal a wonderful, dreamy lemony custard. Isn’t it beautiful? Better do a taste test to make sure it’s ok…and one more for good measure. You really need to move away from the lemon curd now to make sure there’s enough for the filling, so put it aside at room temperature, as soon you will be swirling it into the cheesecake filling.
Step 5. Gelatin is Weird
There’s no denying that gelatin is weird when you realise what it’s made from (go on, google it). You can always try arrowroot or agar agar substitutes but I had none of these at hand. So do as I did and try not to think about it as you find a heatproof jug (I used a wee Pyrex one) and add your 1/4 cup of cold tap water (c’mon you don’t need fancy filtered stuff for this) along with your 3 teaspoons of gelatin powder.
Give it a good stir and place it in that saucepan of simmering water you set up earlier (don’t worry I forgot too, just bung it on and set that sucker in the pan rather awkwardly like this):
Keep stirring until dissolved, meanwhile try and figure out how you are going to get that Pyrex out of there without burning yourself. Once safely extracted put it aside to cool.
Now, like me you may have been so weirded out by the gelatin that you forgot to turn the stove off – so here’s a reminder to TURN THE STOVE OFF (you will thank me later).
Step 6. Serious Cheesecake Business (or That Time I Almost Set the Handmixer on Fire)
Ok. Getting down to serious cheesecake making now. It’s time to combine the two packets of room temp cream cheese in a bowl with 2/3 cup of caster sugar. I used a handmixer, it was tough going at first until I put in some lemon juice. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons, I put 4 or 5 in – I just kept tasting it until it seemed right to me. No complaints from those who ate it!
Now, when you finish mixing this, don’t do what I did and put the hand-mixer on the oh so handy stove (because every other surface is by now covered in bowls). If you did this you might quickly discover that your very low gas flame from making the gelatin was still dancing merrily away and ABOUT TO MELT YOUR HANDMIXER. Bugger. Aren’t you glad I reminded you to turn off the stove earlier?
Still not as bad as the time I set a pizza box on fire the first time I made Lemon Meringue Pie – ahem. Moving along.
Step 7. More Mixing
So unless you have three sets of beaters for your handmixer (or three handmixers – which frankly, is a little disturbing, and just plain obscene); you need to clean and dry your beaters at this point.
Now, grab your thickened cream (I bought 600 ml and measured out the 500ml needed) and beat that cream mercilessly for a few minutes until it forms soft peaks, which are hopefully what these are:
Step 8. Yep, You Guessed It, Mixing Again
By now the couch is looking very attractive.The kitchen looks like your Mum’s Tupperware collection exploded all over it. Repeat Step 1 if you need to. I did. But we are almost kinda there!
Clean and dry those beaters again and beat the two egg whites you put aside earlier in a bowl until those soft peaky things appear:
Step 9. The Art of Folding (Nothing to Do with Laundry)
When I first read a recipe that told me to “fold” ingredients into each other I had no idea what it meant. I’ve since figured out it means gently combining ingredients without over mixing. Spatulas are very good for this.
Before we get to the folding, we’re going to pour that weird gelatin (which should be very thick and gluey) into that lovely lemony cream cheese mixture and give it a good stir. I know it seems sacrilegious, but this will help the cheesecake set. Have another choccy biscuit if it helps.
Now, add your soft peaky cream and soft peaky egg whites to the cream cheese mixture and combine (or fold) them gently using a spatula.
After adding the egg whites and the cream our cheesecake filling is done and should look glossy and creamy and fabulous. Now would be a good time for some quality testing – keep that towel handy just in case:
Step 10. Getting Arty with Something Pointy
The biscuit base should be nicely set, so grab it out of the fridge and add half the cheesecake filling and half the lemon curd to it. If you manage to accidentally make it look like a love heart, lucky you:
The recipe suggests using a skewer to swirl that lemon curd through, but I used the thin end of a chopstick and it worked pretty well. After you’ve swirled it through add the rest of the cheesecake filling and lemon curd and get arty again with something pointy.
Step 10. The Agonising Wait
Now, like me you probably want to grab a spoon right now and hoe in, but I have been assured the flavour, as well as the texture, improve when you put that baby in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Yes, it’s a long time, but there are also mountains of washing up to be done. When you pull it out hopefully it looks something like this, but without the crumbly bit I had at the top of the photo (oops):
Step 11. Make your Mum Really Happy
This became the birthday cake for my Mum and two brothers’-in-law. I gotta admit it tasted good, unfortunately a little bit of the base crumbled on one side, but it generally kept its structural integrity. It was lovely and light and lemony without losing the creamy texture. When sliced it looked like this:
If you don’t like lemon as much I made a variation of this for a friend where I simply replaced the lemon curd with a raspberry coulis (keeping the lemon juice with the cream cheese and lemon zest in the crust). It proved very popular, although I put the lemon juice in too soon and the cream cheese curdled a wee bit (hence the wee lumps). Learn from my mistakes!:
If you have read this far – I am surprised! So thanks. This is my first post on my first blog so please leave a comment (but please be kind!).