A Very Grown-Up Cheesecake

I made, what I am calling, my first truly grown-up cheesecake last week. We were going to some friends’ house for dinner on Friday night and we were taking dessert. I spent, as ever, quite a long time trying to decide what to make. Last time we went round for dinner we took a chocolate and salted caramel tart so for obvious reasons, I ideally did not want to make another tart. So then I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to take a meringue; it was going to be a lightly spiced pear and hazelnut meringue with chocolate sauce and lots of cream. I was all set on this idea and had even announced it, although fortunately not to our hosts, and then I started to think through the logistics.

Whatever the dessert was, it needed to be something that could be made in advance: meringue – check. Chocolate sauce: check. Spiced pears: check. It also however needed to be something that could be transported, not only with ease, but ideally whole. Hmm. This is where the plan started to fall through. Although in some respects entirely possible; it could conceivably be assembled at our hosts’, it required many different boxes and, seeing as I would simultaneously be transporting, by train, clothes for the weekend, hair straighteners and a million various products (we had a wedding thrown in for good measure), it was starting to look less easy.

Rethink. I was looking for something that: could be made in advance and be easily transported. We were really looking at something that could be transported in a tin to afford whatever it was the maximum levels of protection. So the decision was made that we were looking at a cheesecake. But I was bored of my standard white chocolate cheesecake, or a lemon cheesecake. Even my apple crumble cheesecake wasn’t appealing to me, so I started to scour the internet; and I stumbled across an amazing recipe for a Baklava cheesecake. It seemed to tick all the boxes and even looked fairly impressive as well.

Although in some respects it was a bit of a stab in the dark, the recipe was excellent and the end result was delicious. I made a few changes; I substituted the almonds with hazelnuts as I can’t eat almonds, and I added freshly grated orange zest to the filling and it was absolutely delicious.

The recipe, whilst also available from Five Paper Dolls (http://fivepaperdolls.blogspot.com/2011/07/baklava-cheesecake.html)  is also recreated here with my hazelnut substitute and the orange zest.

Cheesecake Base
300g all butter biscuits
125g butter, melted
½ cup walnuts
⅔ cup pistachios
⅔ cup hazelnuts
2 tsp mixed spice

Cheesecake Filling
3 tsp gelatine
¼ cup water
500g cream cheese, softened
¾ cup castor sugar
¼ cup honey
1½ cup double cream
Freshly grated zest of 1 orange
1. Preheat the oven to 220oC (425oF). Grease a 26cm round tin or cheesecake tin with melted butter.

2. Roast walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios in the oven on a tray for 4 minutes. Sprinkle nuts with spice and roast a further minute. Take out of the oven and let them cool.
3. Process nuts with the cookies until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl, setting a third of the nut mixture to cover cheesecake. Stir melted butter into the remaining nut mixture and press into tin evenly. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or freezer for 15 minutes to set.
4. To make the cheesecake filling, sprinkle gelatine over the water in a small bowl. Stand the bowl in a small saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the gelatine dissolves then cool for 5 minutes.
5. Beat cream cheese, sugar and honey in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the cream and finally add the gelatine mixture.
6. Pour filling into the tin and sprinkle the top with the reserved nut mixture, or if you like, quickly chop some extra nuts and sprinkle over the top instead of the reserved nut mixture for a pretty green and brown display. Cover and place in the fridge overnight to set.
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