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Who can resist a classic cheesecake for dessert with its rich, buttery base and creamy filling? Whether baked or simply prepared and refrigerated, cheesecake is so versatile and adding chocolate even as a final flourish and finishing touch elevates it to another level. Whether you go for something traditional, fruity or laced with alcohol, there is a cheesecake to please everyone.

We are currently having a new custom-built kitchen at home and have no cooking facilities other than a one-ring electric countertop hob (which I usually use for my candle-making) and a traditional coal-fired barbecue in the back garden. The next-door neighbours were coming over for dinner and I wanted to create a no-fuss dessert that was quick and easy to make and could be chilled and stored in the refrigerator until needed. Although I do enjoy a traditional baked cheesecake, I actually prefer the non-baked variety and in any case it was not possible to prepare a baked one due to the lack of kitchen facilities at present. I had decided on a Mexican-themed dinner cooked on the barbecue and rather than settle for lime, which can be a little sharp for some tastes, I thought about using a twist of orange for more subtlety combined with the gentle heat of ginger to marry the two citrus flavours, and then sprinkle over a little grated 72% dark chocolate just before serving for a further dimension; ginger and citrus flavours pair very well with dark chocolate and of course chocolate features in a wide variety of savoury Mexican dishes.

Assuming you are mindful to remove the double cream from the refrigerator at least half an hour before you intend to start making the cheesecake filling – for example, when you put the biscuit base in the refrigerator to chill – then it will take you less than 30 minutes in total to prepare in two separate stages.

Ingredients

Gluten-free; vegetarian

  • 200 g Gluten-free Ginger Biscuits (Cookies)
  • 80 g Unsalted Butter
  • 500 g Cream Cheese, such as Mascarpone
  • 110 g Icing Sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange and 2 limes
  • 150 ml Double Cream, whipped
  • Dark Chocolate, to decorate

Grease the inside of a 20 cm loose-base cake tin and line the base with baking parchment to fit.

Place the ginger biscuits in a clean polythene bag, tie, place on a board and bash into crumbs with a rolling pin. Alternatively, put the ginger biscuits in a food processor and pulse until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, remove from the heat and quickly add the biscuit crumbs stirring well to combine.

Spoon the buttery biscuit crumbs into the cake tin, spreading evenly over the lined base and pressing them down well with the back of a metal spoon. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours to harden.

Meanwhile, tip the cream cheese and icing sugar into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the juice and zest of one orange and two limes and stir into the cream cheese and sugar mixture.

Pour the double cream into a separate bowl and beat with an electric or balloon whisk until it forms soft peaks and then combine with the other ingredients, mixing in thoroughly.

Pour the mixture evenly into the cake tin over the hardened biscuit base and smooth over with a palette knife and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Carefully push out the base of the cake tin and place the cheesecake on a board. If you are lucky you may be able to remove the cheesecake itself from the base of the tin but often I don’t risk it! Decorate the top of the cheesecake with a little grated dark chocolate before cutting into slices.

COOKS’ NOTES

You may substitute regular ginger biscuits for gluten-free, if you don’t wish to make your cheesecake “Free From”.

Quark, mascarpone, Philadelphia store’s own brand cream cheese will all work well in this recipe.

Remove the cream from the refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature for AT LEAST 30 minutes and it should whip up in no time at all, even with a balloon whisk!

If you don’t have a cake tin you may make and serve the cheesecake in individual ramekins, which look pretty for fuss-free dinner parties. For 4-6 people, you could halve the ingredient quantities depending on the size of the ramekins. Grease each ramekin with a little melted butter, omit the baking paper but follow the recipe. Garnish with a slither each of fresh orange and lime before serving, if you like.