Strawberry and Basil Cheesecake

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (October 2015) and taken from The Virtuous Tart by Susan Jane White.

By loading more fresh veg and nuts into us ladies, we’ll arm our bodies against The Ageing Process. This cake should help. Avocados and almonds are drenched with helpful fats and nourishing minerals needed to keep our toes tapping and skin flowing. Remember, the skin is your largest excretory organ. If you’re eating garbage, you’ll end up wearing it on your face.

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Serves : 8

Ingredients for the base:
1 1/2 cups (180g) walnuts
6 Medjool or other sticky dates, stones removed
touch of sea salt flakes

For the creamy centre:
3 ripe avocados, stones and skin removed (240g)
25g packet of fresh basil, leaves only
juice of 3-4 limes
4-6 tblsp raw honey
3 tblsp unscented coconut oil, melted

For the topping:
1 punnet of fresh strawberries

Step One : To make the base, blend the walnuts, dates and sea salt in a food processor (not a blender) with a splash of water. When it starts clumping together into a cookie dough ball, you’re good to go. Press into a 20 x 25 cm loaf tin. Bring the dough up the sides like a posh flan, making sure you support the elbow of the base – the part where the base meets the sides. Freeze.

Step Two : Meanwhile, get going on your ‘cheesecake’ filling. Puree the avocado flesh, basil, lime juice, honey, melted coconut oil and some Frank Sinatra at full speed until savagely smooth. A blender can be used for this bit.

Step Three : Taste. If it needs more zing or kick, add another squeeze of lime juice to the mix. If you prefer more sweetness to rock your taste buds, then add an extra bit of honey. Spoon the filling over the frozen base and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. It will last for three days in the fridge like this.

Step Four : Just before serving, slice a handful of fresh strawberries and scatter them over the top along with any stray basil leaves you find loitering in your kitchen.

Truffle Cheesecake

Light sponge with a rich chocolate and almond topping laced with rum for an extra special dessert.

Serves: 10

Prep time: 25 mins; Cook time: 1 hour

Base Ingredients:
1 egg;
1oz (25g) caster sugar
1oz (25g) plain flour, sifted;
Few drops vanilla essence

Topping Ingredients:
1 ½ lb (675g) cream cheese
175g/6oz caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
200g/7oz plain chocolate, melted
2 tblsp milk
5 tblsp dark rum
7oz (200g) carton fromage frais
2oz (50g) ground almonds
cocoa powder for dusting

Step One : Grease and line a 21cm/8 1/2 in spring clip tin.

Step Two : Preheat the oven to Mark 5 / 190oC / 375oF.

Step Three : Whisk egg and sugar together until mixture leaves a trail. Fold in the flour and vanilla essence. Pour into tin, spread evenly and bake for 10 minutes until golden and risen.

Step Four : Turn the sponge onto sugared paper. Wash, grease and re-line the base and sides of spring clip tin. Return sponge to tin. Lower oven to Mark 4 / 180oC / 350oF.

Step Five : Put cream cheese into a bowl and beat in caster sugar and eggs. Add the chocolate, milk, rum, fromage frais and almonds. Beat well and pour on top of sponge base. Bake for 45-50 minutes until set.

Step Six : Turn off oven and leave cheesecake to cool in oven for 2-3 hours.

Step Seven : Dust with cocoa before serving.

Tip: This rich cheesecake is delicious served slightly warm or at room temperature. It is best eaten within 24 hours and is not suitable for freezing.

Click on the book cover to find more cheesecake recipes …

Tiramisu Cheesecake

This delicious, indulgent, baked cheesecake is made with the same wicked ingredients as the creamy italian dessert tiramisu – almond-flavoured biscuits, plain chocolate, rich mascarpone cheese and coffee.

Serves 12; Cost £9; Time to prepare: 40 mins; Time to cook: 1 hr 10 mins; Cals per portion: 605

Ingredients:-
Base: 100g (4oz) amaretti biscuits; 100g (4oz) almond cookies; 50g (2oz) butter
Filling: 750g (1 lb 10oz) mascarpone cheese; 100g (4oz) caster sugar; 30ml (2tbsp) cornflour; 3 eggs, size 3, beaten; 15ml (1tbsp) coffee liqueur or coffee essence; 225g (8oz) plain chocolate
Topping: 200ml (7fl oz) double cream, lightly whipped until softly peaking; Chocolate curls to decorate;
Cocoa powder to dust

  • To make base, roughly crush the biscuits and cookies, and place in a bowl. Melt butter, stir in and mix well. Spoon into th base of a greased 23cm (9in) springform tin and press down evenly with a potato masher. Chill in the fridge.
  • To make the filling, place the mascarpone cheese in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until soft. Beat in the caster sugar and cornflour, then gradually beat in the eggs to make a smooth mixture. Fold in the coffee liqueur or coffee essence.
  • Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave until just melted, then stir. Remove from heat and cool for 10 mins. Gently fold the melted chocolate into the mascarpone mixture.
  • Pour mixture over biscuit base. Place the tin on a baking sheet and bake at 170oC, 325oF, Gas 3 for 1 hr 10 mins until set. Cool (see tip). For topping, gentle swirl cream over the cheesecake. Top with chocolate curls and dust with cocoa powder.

TIP: When the cheesecake is cooked, leave it to cool slowly insdie the turned-off oven – then will help to prevent the surface from cracking.