RECIPE : GLOWING GINGER CHEESECAKE



I absolutely adore this season of celebration, but I have to admit that even as someone who loves spending time in the kitchen cooking that it can be darn stressful. Celebration dinners, buffets, brunches - these are all meals that we want to make special for or friends and family and that puts on the pressure big time, so an arsenal of quick and easy desserts that look and taste great and can be made ahead are essential! Make it special, but make it easier on yourself!

This cheesecake tastes amazing, suuuuper creamy with sweet and firey little pieces of crystallised ginger topped with a caramelly florentine cookie that not only looks impressive but adds a delightful crunchy contrast. To make it extra special I like to add edible gold leaf on special occasions to give even more wow factor - just make sure you buy the edible stuff as you can also get faux gold leaf that's made of plastics or base metals that your tummy will not thank you for! I got my gold leaf from Amazon in a little book of ten sheets and used four on this cheesecake, so I have a little stash in my baking cupboard now for the next time I want to fancy up a dish!

If ginger isn't your thing this cheesecake recipe is an excellent base for any flavour you want to add as it's dreamily soft and creamy while being really easy - just whip the filling up in a single bowl and chill in the fridge so there's no baking involved. Swap out the biscuits in the base for any that you prefer, I love using Biscoff and topping the cheesecake with roasted rhubarb and my husband is a big fan of an Oreo base with more crumbled Oreos studding the cheesecake mix and a layer of ganache on top. Just follow your heart, it's kinda had to ruin this without going crazy and pulling a Rachel adding minced beef or something!!!


Ginger Cheesecake
Serves up to 12

Ingredients

Base
250g gingersnap biscuits
100g unsalted butter, melted

Filling
600 g full fat cream cheese
250 ml double/heavy cream
75g crystallised ginger, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
100g golden caster sugar

Florentines
25g butter
75g golden caster sugar
10g plain flour
65ml double cream
100g flaked almonds
50g candied peel, chopped
25g glacé cherries, chopped
edible gold leaf (optional but excellent)

Method

Line the base of a 20cm springform baking tin with some baking parchment.   

Crush the gingersnaps either in a food processor or by putting them into a ziplock bag and bashing them with a rolling pin (my preferred method!) until they resemble sand and mix with the melted butter. Put this mix into the cake tin and press down into the base of the tin in as even a layer as possible, making sure you get right up to the edges and you have no gaps or holes. Set aside while you make your filling, ideally in the fridge so it can start firming up.

Whisk the double cream in a large bowl or in your stand mixer until it starts to thicken, then add the sugar and whisk again until you get to the soft peak stage. Now add the cream cheese and ground ginger and whisk until everything is well combined and you have a fairly thick, silky mixture. Finally fold in the chopped crystallised ginger and then pour the lot into the cake tin over your gingersnap base. Smooth out the top with an offset spatula and refrigerate.

Now to make your giant florentine! Start by lining a tray with baking paper and preheating the oven to 190C / gas 5. Put the butter, sugar and flour in a small, heavy-based saucepan and cook on a low heat while stirring until the mixture until it is all melted, then add the cream still stirring continuously until everything is combined. Take off the heat and add in the almonds, peel, cherries and ginger and mix together gently until everything is coated in the sugary cream mixture.

Spoon 3/4 of the mixture onto your lined baking tray and use the back of a spoon to press and shape it into a circle that is approximately a 1.5 inches smaller than your cake tin - it will spread as it bakes. Make sure you press it down into an even layer so that it cooks evenly, then bake on the top shelf of the oven for approximately 15-18 minutes or until golden and the edges are a deep caramellised brown. The remaining mix is leftover, so feel free to bake this up as a chef's snack - just adjust your time down  to around 10-12 minutes as this smaller amount won't take as long to cook.

Allow the florentine to cool completely, then placed another piece of baking paper on top before inverting it delicately, removing the bottom paper and placing it onto your cheesecake. I do this a good hour or so before guests arrive so it has a chance to soften a little and becomes easier to slice. Now add your final flourish of gold leaf or other decoration and chill again until it's time to serve it to your guests!

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