One of my favourite hypotheticals that I like to ask people when wanting to learn more about them is: “If you were on death row, what would your last meal request be?”
My answer does change from time to time depending on my mood and cravings, but it has been fairly consistent as of late: a big bowl of nachos, with sour cream, fresh tomato salsa, extra melted cheese and extra guacamole, and a big slab of baked cheesecake for dessert.
Out of all the desserts I’ve ever tasted, there is just something so decadent and over-the-top about cheesecake – probably because you’re slicing into a piece of solid baked cheese. While cheesecakes are no way as complex in flavour or craftsmanship when compared to the tiny, beautifully decorated cakes in high-end patisseries, the sheer simplicity of it is something I never tire of.
I was already going to buy some ricotta for the Spinach Gnudi, and so I decided to just buy some extra to make this amazing creation. It’s an incredibly well-balanced cheesecake – rich yet light, zesty yet smooth. It will generously serve at least 10 people.
You will need:
- 330g cream cheese, softened;
- 500g ricotta;
- 4 eggs;
- 1 + 1/3C (295g) caster sugar;
- 1/4C (60ml) lemon juice;
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind;
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste;
- 1 + 1/2 tablespoons cornflour;
- 1 + 1/2 tablespoons water;
For the base:
- 1/3 cup (40g) almond meal;
- 3/4 cup (105g) plain flour;
- 1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar;
- 90g butter, chopped.
Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celcius. To make the base, place the almond meal, flour, sugar and butter in a bowl. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until a rough dough forms.
Line the base of a lightly-greased 20cm-round springform tin with non-stick baking paper. Using the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the base. Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden. Set aside.
To make the filling, place the cream cheese, ricotta, eggs, sugar, lemon juice and rind, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and blend. Combine the cornflour and water until smooth and add to the cream cheese mixture. Blend further.
Lightly grease the sides of the tin and pour the filling over the base.
Tap the tin lightly to remove any air bubbles. I like to put the tin on a baking tray in case of any leakages, and also when I put it in the oven I have a baking tin of water to keep the humidity in the oven steady to prevent the cheesecake from cracking like Gondwana. Bake for an hour or more (you may need an extra half an hour if you’ve added a tray of water), or until there is the barest sign of wobble in the centre of the cheesecake.
Turn the oven off and stand the cake for an hour, leaving the door of the oven closed. Refrigerate until cold.
I wanted to jazz up my cheesecake a little, so I cut very thin strips of paper and laid them in a criss-cross pattern across the cake, before dusting it liberally with sifted icing sugar. Remove the strips as gently as you can.
This recipe is too easy – simple ingredients, simple process, full of flavour and guaranteed to please. Why wouldn’t it be your last meal choice? 🙂