24 October 2006

Reverting to a teenaged girl

If truth be told, restaurant cheesecake is a dessert I usually dread. It seems to be everywhere, a wedge of pallid semi-liquid plastics, drowning in pie filling or squeezy bottle syrup, probably with a name like "choklit."

How could such a lovely and luscious and creamy pie be downgraded to such a horrendous fate?

That said, a home-made cheesecake is truly a thing of beauty.

For the vanilla series, I found a beautiful and easy cheesecake, courtesy of
Tamasin's Kitchen Bible by Tamasin Day Lewis. In the recipe introduction, she thinks of cheesecake as being '60s. I think of it as being ... later's.

I did a quick check of her birthyear and I think I'm developing a theory that it is very whatever-decade-it-was-when-you-were-a-teenager...it seems a very teenaged-girl thing to make. At that age, cheesecake seems very elegant, almost grown up and far removed from regular chocolate or vanilla cakes with their spongey crumb. The correct recipe is enough to make any kitchen novice feel like an accomplished pastry chef in a chi-chi patisserie.

Okay... maybe that was going a bit far.

But a good recipe can give wobbly cook a wobbly and delicious cheesecake...and more than a bit of self-confidence and easy gratification.

This was TFE's birthday cake I made back in the spring--a special request on his part. Luscious and creamy and just slightly lemony, it's a far cry from the heavy slices found in restaurants. The topping, instead of that thick, gloopy cherry filling, was dried cherries, plumped in brandy.

Vanilla Cheesecake (inspired by Tamasin Day Lewis)
serves 6-8
50g graham wafer crumbs
30g butter
450g marscapone
2 extra large eggs plus 1 yolk
170ml double cream
60g vanilla sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
grated zest of one lemon
Creamy Topping
150ml sour cream
1 dspn vanilla sugar
100g dried cherries, plumped in brandy

  • Preheat oven to 375F/190C.
  • Mix the crumbs and butter together and pat them into bottom and sides of a 20cm/8" springform tin. Bake for 10 minutes and set aside.
  • Mix the filling ingredients together until smooth. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes or unitl the centre is slightly wobbly. Cool in the oven's cavern with the door ajar.
  • While the pie cools, mix the sour cream and dessertspoon of vanilla sugar. Remove the sides of the tin and spread the creamy topping over the top.
  • You can serve the cheesecake at room temperature or cool. Spoon the cherries, along with some of the brandy over individual slices as you serve.
  • If you aren't sure of your tins, you can tightly wrap the bottom (the outside, thank you very much) in tin foil
  • You can also set a pan of boiling water on the oven's lower rack--the steam might help prevent cracking (but, quite honestly, there are worse things than a cracked cheesecake...and well, there is the sour cream topping)



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Anonymous said...

what a wonderful idea, cheesecake instead of the usual birthday cake! this looks fabulous!

Anonymous said...


You`ve got a lovely blog :-) And I`m getting really hungry just by looking at all your beautiful pictures...


Anonymous said...

Looks great, and I totally agree about cafe/restaurant cheesecakes - each time I've tried them, it's been a horrific affair!

Shaun said...

Your cheesecake looks delicious! I'm glad that you used a recipe from Tamasin Day-Lewis because I think she is a great writer (eclectic tastes, but she is inspiring). I am going to soon update a post on my blog re: her Quince Tart (from "Simply the Best").
I love your blog, by the way - and I'm jealous that you got to speak to Nigella :-)

Sara said...

Jasmine - I am not a very good baker, but I have the best cheesecake recipe in the world, and everytime I make it, I DO feel a bit like a fancy chef! The cherries in brandy? Sounds wonderful.

jasmine said...

Hello all

Kat -- TFE actually forgot about the cheesecake until he saw the picture! In his words, the longer the cherries sat, the more...potent they became.

VW -- Welcome! Thanks so much for your kind words :)

Ellie -- I wonder who keeps ordering them, since they're always on the menu.

Shaun -- I first came across Tamasin when I was teaching myself how to make pies--how could I not notice a title like Tarts With Tops On ;) If you haven't read it, The Accidental Foodie has a good essay on her.

Sara -- Everyone needs to become an instantly fancy chef. Cheesecake is a great way to do it :)


emily said...

greetings Jasmine -
I just came across your blog on a search for vanilla salt - and lucky day for me, not only do I find that in your archives, but now vanilla cheesecake as well!
The cheesecake is indeed 'a thing of beauty', and the cherry topping sounds incredible.

Anonymous said...

It must be the season for cheesecakes! You are really making me want to make some cheesecake. I never made it as a teenager, so I think I have to make up for it now.

Anonymous said...

Looks very nice Jasmine. I always thought I could only do cheesecake with fromage blanc, the way I had learned, but since it is impossible to find in the US, I am glad to get other lovely recipes!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm cheesecake. I really like cheesecakes that use marscapone cheese.