Sunday, 31 July 2011

berry and chocolate cheeseless chesecake

Yes, yes, I know.  "A cheeseless cheesecake?" I can hear you all saying.  Well it is true.  With a biscuit base, cakey middle, creamy chocolate topping and berries somewhere in between, this cake resembles every kind of cheesecake in texture and composition.  But without the cheese.  So tell me, when something is neither cake nor tart, nor pie nor loaf, nor biscuit nor muffin, what is it?  Well on this occasion it is a cheeseless cheesecake - and that is the best description I have come across.   All other suggestions are welcome!

Three layers, each with their own texture and taste to contribute, this hearty and rich dessert is an ensemble of super flavours and, if you're lucky, it may just count as one of your five a day!
This is not the easiest cake to make, but it is exceptionally worth it.

Ingredients for the base
200g digestive biscuits
85g melted butter

Ingredients for the cake
30g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
35g butter
30ml double cream
4 eggs (to be separated)
75g soft brown sugar, or golden caster sugar
250g of raspberries, blueberries or a mixture of both

Ingredients for the icing
100g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
50g butter
50ml double cream
25g icing sugar (sifted)

Line the base of a 23" clip cake cake with parchment or greaseproof paper.

Biscuit Base:
Place the biscuits in a plastic freezer bag, or similar, and prepare yourself for a pounding!  loosely hold the open ends of the bag and bash the biscuits with a rolling pin, or some other heavy object - but not a glass.  Do not tie a knot in the bag, as it will explode when you hit the air inside.  Once obliterated into something resembling bread crumbs, place the smashed biscuits into a mixing bowl.  Add the melted butter and mix until combined and the crumbs have soaked up all the butter.  Spoon the biscuit mixture into the cake tin and press down firmly to form an even base, with either the back of a wooden spoon or your hands (I find making a fist and pressing down firmly does the trick).

Place in the fridge to allow the biscuit base to firm up.

Cakey middle bit:
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 2.

Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into a small bowl and set to one side.
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bain-marie or over a low heat in a non-stick saucepan - keep a close watch to make sure it doesn't burn.  Once melted, take off the heat and add the butter.  Let the butter melt in slowly, then add the cream and mix together until combined and delicious in appearance.

Separate the eggs.  You want the whites in a mixing bowl, ready to whisk (electric mixer if you have one) and the yolks in a large mixing bowl as this is where all the ingredients will be bought together.
Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks (much easier and quicker in an electric mixer).  Add the sugar and mix again until stiff peaks are formed.

Beat the egg yolks, add the melted chocolate and lightly beat until combined - the mixture will start to thicken so don't over beat it.  Fold in the flour and cocoa, a little at a time.  Add a dollop of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten, mix until combined.  A few dollops at a time, add the remaining egg whites, gently folding them in as you go - we don't want to knock all that lovely air out of them!

Once fully combined set to one side, for a moment or two whilst we deal with the berries.  Remove the biscuit base from the fridge.  Sprinkle the berries of your choice over the top of the biscuit base.  I like to make sure that no berries meet the edge, so that they are a surprise when the cake is cut and served.  If you feel that there are too many berries, then save some for the topping.  Delightful either way.

Once the berries are in place, slowly and gently, pour the cake mixture over the top of them and smooth with a spatula.  Take extra care to make sure that no berries are popping out of the top, otherwise they might burn in the oven.

Place the cake in the oven for 40-45minutes of until a skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean.  Leave to rest in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing:
It is best to prepare the icing once the cake has cooled completely, otherwise it will not harden.
Melt the chocolate as before, in a bain-marie or non-stick saucepan.  Once melted, remove from the heat.  Add the butter and allow to melt of its own accord.  Mix the icing sugar with the cream and pour onto the chocolate.  Mix together until everything is combined and the chocolate is glossy.  Have a little taste. If you think it is too bitter (which may be the case if you have used a high percentage cocoa chocolate) then add a little more icing sugar.  Do be careful not to make it too sweet though - the cake provides the sweetness in this recipe.  Once you are satisfied.  Pout the icing over the cake and allow to harden, at room temperature, for an hour or so.  Do not refrigerate as the chocolate will turn from glossy to matt.

Serve with cream or ice cream, lavender if you have some.  Vanilla if not.

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