Weekend Sun   

Chelsea’s cheesecake

Base
350g biscuits (I used double chocolate cookies)
75g butter, softened (almost melted)

Filling
250g cream cheese, at room temperature (not the spreadable kind)
200g mascarpone (or use extra cream cheese)
2 tsp vanilla paste or essence
350g good-quality white eating chocolate, chopped
¾ cup cream
2–3 punnets ripe berries
½ cup berry jam melted with 2 tbsp water
icing sugar to dust

This old-timer is one of my most popular recipes at Christmas time. Year after year my Facebook page is shiny and resplendent with the hundreds of photos people post of this cheesecake. It does look a million bucks and isn’t the slightest bit difficult — you can make it a day in advance and keep it in the fridge without the topping (only add the berries just before serving).

Line the base of a round 23–25cm springform cake tin with a circle of baking paper to fit.
Place the biscuits in a food processor and process to a fine crumb, or finely smash in a bag with a rolling pin. Add the butter and mix until well combined. Tip the crumbs into the tin and press into the base. Refrigerate.

Beat the cream cheese, mascarpone and vanilla paste with an electric beater or cake mixer (or lots of elbow grease) for a few minutes until fluffy. Set aside.

Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water), and heat until just melted, stirring only every now and then (don’t get any water in it). If it seizes, add more cream and  keep stirring in a circular motion —
 it should come back together.

Remove the chocolate from the heat and add a spoonful at a time to the cream cheese mixture, beating after each addition. Whip the cream until it’s nice and thick, but not quite to the usual ‘soft peaks’ stage (you want it just underwhipped otherwise the cheesecake can turn grainy). Gently fold ¼ cup of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to aerate it, then fold through the remaining cream.

Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the biscuit base and smooth with a spatula. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to set.

Just before you’re ready to serve, carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin, and peel off the baking paper if you can. Slide the cheesecake onto a serving platter and smooth out the sides with a warm knife.

Arrange the fresh berries on top. Drizzle with a little of the melted jam, dust with icing sugar, slice with a hot knife and serve.

The cheesecake will go soft on a hot day, so put any leftovers back in the fridge right away. You can freeze the whole cheesecake in the tin for up to 4 weeks by wrapping it tightly in a double layer of cling wrap then a layer of foil.

Chelsea’s tips
You can fold extra chopped berries through the cream cheese mixture after adding the whipped cream (or try freeze-dried berry powder).

If berries aren’t in season, simmer 2 cups frozen berries with ½ cup sugar until it’s thick and jammy, chill and use as the topping.

Make this recipe gluten free by choosing gluten-free biscuits for the base.

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