It’s not a case of cheating. Not really. If you’ve spent time already on several other courses then dessert could be, dare I say it, bought. Or is it a personal preference of nibbling on differing cheese and fruit at the end of a meal rather than dessert. Regardless, I’m hoping what I’ve come up with is a good compromise. It’s doable ahead of time; there’s very little cooking involved and could easily be made and assembled between other prep. It’s also a dessert that helps to blur the lines, lending itself to both cheese and fruit that you may want to serve. It’s also surprisingly easy to make.
Lemon & Coconut Cheesecake with Strawberry Purée
Recipe created by Johnny from Kitsch n flavours
For the Cheesecake Bases/Nests:
- Sunflower Oil (for greasing the molds)
- 80g ( 2.8oz) Unsalted Butter
- 50g (1.75oz) Wholemeal (very strong) Bread Flour
- 30g (1oz) Plain (All Purpose) Flour
- 20g (0.7oz) Fine Oatmeal
- 1/4 Teaspoon Table Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup (sub with maple or agave syrup or honey)
- 25g (0.9oz) Dark Chocolate (70% or 85% Cocoa)
- 80g (2.8oz) Dark Chocolate (50% cocoa) or use Milk Chocolate instead
- 80g (2.8oz) Wheatgerm
- 100g (3.5oz) Milk or White Chocolate (for lining the insides of the nests)
For the Cheesecake Filling:
- 200g (7oz) Creamed Coconut
- 4 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
- 200g (7oz) Cream Cheese (drained if necessary)
- 1/2 Packed Tablespoon Lemon Zest
- 5-6 Tablespoons Lemon Juice (strained through a sieve)
For the Strawberry Purée:
- 200 – 300g (7 – 10.5oz) Strawberries (the weight used should equal the amount rendered in purée, so use more in weight if necessary), washed and hulled
- 20g (0.7oz) Unrefined/Raw Granulated Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 Small piece Lemon Peel (all pith removed and discarded) – optional
- 1 Dried Bay Leaf (split)
- 4 Black Peppercorns (kept whole)
For the Strawberries dipped in Chocolate:
- 200g (7oz) Strawberries (plus extra if needed), washed and dried (these are to be used for dipping in melted chocolate, so keep the stem in tact)
- 100g (3.5oz) each Milk and White Chocolate, melted separately
Equipment needed, besides mixing bowls, etc:
- 8 Stainless Steel Sundae/Ice Cream Dishes (measuring approx: inside diameter 9cm/3.5inch and a depth of 4cm/1.5inch, 140ml capacity) or other similar sized oven-proof moulds
- Parchment/Baking Paper
- Muffin Cases (measuring 51mm/2 inch)
- Pastry Weights (or baking beans)
To make the Cheesecake Bases/Nests (the day before the Dinner Party):
This mixture is naturally quite sweet because of the wholemeal flour and wheatgerm used. The Golden syrup is enough to sweeten, without the need of any further sugar.
Put a large heavy-based saucepan on low heat with the butter, wholemeal and plain flour. As if making a roux for a white sauce simply allow the mixture to ‘cook out’, to rid the rawness of the flour. When it starts bubbling slightly do stir through occasionally and don’t let this scorch.
Add the oatmeal along with the salt and stir well to combine. Drizzle in the Golden syrup and let any excess syrup clinging to the spoon melt into the mixture. Roughly break in the chocolates and allow enough time for those to melt, stirring well to combine. Take off the heat.
Add the wheatgerm and stir one last time, making sure the mixture is fully combined. It’s easier to use this base mixture whilst it’s still warm. If it has to be chilled before use simply put it back on heat, No 1, and let it warm through again. That way the softened chocolate, once chilled again, will help the nest to set.
Preheat the oven to 175°C/345°F. Oil the sundae dishes well with a few drops of oil, draining excess if necessary. Set aside.
Place 3 tablespoons of the base mixture (whilst it’s still warm – or put it back on low heat if necessary) into each sundae dish, making sure there’s enough base mixture for all 8 molds. Using both thumbs gently press the mixture into the base of each dish and work the sides, by pressing on them, so they’re slightly thinner. It’s not really possible to get this mixture too thin so don’t worry about spending loads of time on this.
Prick each nest with the tines of a fork about 4 times in the base only.
Place a muffin case into each nest and fill with pastry weights/baking beans up to the level of the sides of nests.
Place the sundae dishes on baking trays and bake in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes. Bring them out of the oven, carefully remove the muffin cases (along with the baking beans) and put the nests back in the oven for another 5 – 8 minutes. Remove them from the oven after that time and allow them to cool completely, before covering each dish with a square of tinfoil and placing in the fridge to chill until firm.
Remove the tinfoil from the nests. Gently press each thumb into the nest and try and shift / push it away from you. This is to dislodge it, so be as careful as possible. Once dislodged, gently lift it out and place a strip of parchment paper underneath (to aid removal from the molds when you’re ready to serve). Return the nest, replace the tinfoil and place back in the fridge.
To prevent the cheesecake filling from leaching into the nests themselves, which could make them slightly soggy, melt some milk chocolate in a suitable bowl inside a saucepan of simmering water (don‘t let the water boil or spill into the chocolate), dip the back of a dessert spoon into the chocolate and smear this over the inside of each nest (see photo above). Allow enough time for the chocolate to set in the fridge before adding the filling. Doing this will also help to strengthen the shell of the nest.
To make the Cheesecake Filling (the day before the Dinner Party):
Simply melt the creamed coconut over low heat in a heavy-based saucepan along with the sugar and stir until smooth. Do not leave the creamed coconut unattended as it can and will scorch, turning an odd sort of brown. Take off the heat and when cool enough add the cream cheese and stir to combine thoroughly. Add the lemon zest. The lemon juice should be added to personal taste, so add less to begin with, stir through, taste and add more if required. Chill until ready to assemble.
To make the Strawberry Purée (the day of the Dinner Party):
Add all of the ingredients to a large heavy-based saucepan and put on low heat (electric No 1 out of 6) with a lid. Allow to sweat for about 10 – 15 minutes or so. Then, up the heat to No 4, bring to a boil (without the lid) and take off heat. Allow to cool. Remove aromatics and store until needed.
When needed rub the poached strawberries through a fine wire metal (if still hot) sieve, using a wooden spoon, into a suitable bowl placed underneath, scraping underneath the sieve to collect all of the purée (discarding the pulp left in the sieve itself).
To make the Strawberries dipped in Chocolate (the day of the Dinner Party):
For dipping the strawberries in chocolate the strawberries will have to be dabbed dry, otherwise the chocolate won’t stick properly. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over about 2.5cm or 1 inch of simmering water in a large saucepan (do not let any water into the bowl for the chocolate). Have a plate handy (I find it easier if the plate is lightly oiled), dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate and set on the plate. Keep each strawberry well apart as they will stick to each other if allowed to collide. Place in the fridge to set until firm.
If you want to have white chocolate drizzled over the milk chocolate dipped strawberries then, after melting the white chocolate, take a fork, dip it into the melted chocolate and, holding the strawberry over the saucepan or bowl, simply drizzle the chocolate over it. Allow enough time for the chocolate to set.
To assemble the Cheesecakes (the day of the Dinner Party):
Remove the nests from the fridge, remove the foil and simply fill each one with the lemon and coconut filling mixture. Chill until ready to serve.
Before serving, decorate with fresh strawberries (hulled and sliced quite thinly), placed either upright or on the flat of the filling. Add a strawberry dipped in chocolate, along with a little of the purée, enough to dress each dessert.
Notes on Cooking:
- Within the ingredients listed above I’ve used 85% cocoa dark chocolate, only as I happen to like cooking with it. If that isn’t available then use your favourite. As far as I’m aware percentages are only sometimes used in the US. So go with what’s available. Or with a milk chocolate instead. The 85% dark chocolate I’m using is by Moser-Roth.
- With regards to the filling, as long as you use equal quantities of creamed coconut (to help the filling set) to cheese, you could consider substituting 100g of the cream cheese with a combination of one of your favourites: a mixture of ricotta with maybe a spoonful of Greek yoghurt; or try using a soft goats’ cheese instead.
- The lemons available here are fairly small fruit from Spain, with varying degrees of juiciness (usually caused by storage). It’s far better to add less juice (and zest) initially as your lemons could be juicier and stronger in flavour, especially if fresher fruit is being used (when they haven‘t been in storage for several months).
Suggested Wine Pairings (by Anatoli):
- Sparkling Moscato – Australia
- Brachetto di Acqui – Italy
- Moscato d’Asti – Italy
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