Recipe: Strawberry & Elderflower Cheesecake

Describe British summer in a few words.

Pimm’s. Strawberries. Picnics. Rain. Wimbledon (now cancelled).

And a new one for 2020: heatwave weekend out on a so-called “beach” which is a painful seat of stones rather than sand forgetting social distance because the whole of Britain all decided to go to the same beach thinking everyone else would be too scared to go in the height of a pandemic.

(Wear your goddamned masks, people.)

*****

A no-bake cheesecake is one of my top favourite summertime desserts – you get that chilled, creamy, sweet cheesecake layer with a crunchy digestive biscuit base, and no sweating over an oven either!

I decided to pick a classic British summer ingredient, strawberries, as the star of this week’s baking project (not to act British at all, moreso because my local supermarket were doing these for £4 per kilo and I couldn’t pass a good deal.) To make this gorgeous fruit the star of the show, I decided to top off the cheesecake with whole, fresh strawberries, encasing in a layer of elderflower jelly.

For the cheesecake layer, instead of the usual rich, creamy texture you’d find with most American-style cheesecakes, I have made this with a mixture of cream cheese and yoghurt to give a lighter texture and also a bit of tang, perfect for the Summer!

Strawberry & Elderflower Cheesecake
Makes a 6-inch cake
(loose bottom, 6-inch diameter, 4-inch height)
 
For the cheesecake base:
100g digestive biscuits
30g unsalted butter
 
For the cheese layer:
200g cream cheese
50g caster sugar
200g natural set yoghurt (Greek yoghurt will also be good)
10ml lemon juice
30g milk
6g gelatine
 
 
For the elderflower jelly
10g gelatine
50ml hot water
50ml elderflower cordial
200ml cold water
15-20 whole strawberries
 
  1. To make the cheesecake base, put the digestive biscuits into a ziplock bag, close the bag and release all your stress with a rolling pin until the biscuits resemble sand. Melt the butter in the microwave then pour into the biscuit crumbs. Give the bag a shake then pour all the contents into a lined cake tin. Press down to a compact, even layer with a wooden spoon. Chill in the fridge.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and beat with a whisk until soft. Add the sugar and cream together until the sugar has dissolved. Add the yoghurt and lemon juice and mix until well incorporated.
  3. In a small bowl, add the milk and sprinkle the gelatine powder on top. Mix with a spoon, then rest the bowl in hot water and set aside. The gelatine should dissolve into the milk and the mixture should now be very thick. Once most of the gelatine has dissolved, pour the mixture into the cream cheese mixture and whisk until well incorporated.
  4. Remove the cake tin and biscuit base from the fridge and pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the biscuit base. Cover with cling film and chill for 2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, wash the strawberries well, pat dry and cut the tops. You would wish to choose smaller strawberries such that the jelly can fully cover the strawberries. Slice some strawberries in half – this is for lining the sides.
  6. To make the elderflower jelly, first sprinkle the gelatine powder on top of the hot water. Stir with a spoon until the gelatine has dissolved. Add the elderflower cordial to cold water to make a fairly concentrated solution, then add the gelatine liquid. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  7. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge, and arrange the strawberries on top as desired. Pour the jelly liquid to half the height of the strawberries. Cover with cling film and cool in the fridge for 30 mins to 1 hour so the first jelly layer sets. Then pour in the rest of the jelly to cover all the strawberries and cool for at least 2 hours. (This is such that the strawberries wouldn’t “float” in the jelly.)
  8. To serve, wrap the cake tin with a hot tea towel for 5 mins to loosen the sides. Push the bottom upwards and the cake should slide away from the sides of the cake tin.

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