Here’s a thought – you’ve got friends and/or family coming round for a (socially-distanced) meal in the garden and you want an easy dessert that nonetheless will make people say “ooh”. Or maybe you just like cheesecake. I may be able to help.
This is a no-bake cheesecake, ideal for those summer days when you don’t want to turn the oven on, and simple to assemble. It’s rich and creamy and a little goes a long way, but it’s not cloying. Although I topped mine with a cherry compote you can easily use other fruits: sliced peaches, poached apricots or fresh raspberries would each go well with the Amaretti biscuit base.
You can make the base and even the whole cheesecake a day ahead, if you like. Either way, the filling needs a few hours in the fridge to set so you’ll need to plan ahead, but don’t add the topping until just before you serve, otherwise it’ll leak unsightly juices onto your pristine pie.
Cherry and Almond Cheesecake
Ingredients for the compote:
220g fresh cherries, pitted
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp kirsch or brandy
For the cheesecake:
250g amaretti biscuits (the crunchy ones)
400-450g cream cheese (Philadelphia-style)
300ml double cream
100g caster sugar
Zest and juice of 1 small orange and 1 lemon
A few drops of almond essence
To make the compote, place all ingredients in a small pan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon and boil the syrup until thick, 2-3 minutes. Pour over the cherries and cool. Cover and put in the fridge.
Lightly oil a 23cm spring-form tin. Whizz the amaretti biscuits to fine crumbs in a food processor. Alternatively, place in a food-safe bag and crush with a rolling pin. Be warned, the shards are quite sharp and tend to break through freezer bags.
Melt the butter and mix into the biscuit crumbs. Press evenly and very firmly into the base of the tin and chill until set. You can speed this up, if necessary, by putting it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Scrape the cream cheese into a large bowl and beat briefly with a handheld beater. Pour in the cream and continue to beat until you have stiff peaks.
Add the sugar, citrus zests and almond essence (don’t overdo this or it’ll taste like soap) and beat to mix thoroughly. Now add the citrus juices a little at a time, beating in each time before adding more, until you have a thick, smooth mixture. Spoon this on top of the biscuit base and spread evenly.
Cover and chill until just before you want to eat, bearing in mind it needs a few hours to set. Release the cheesecake from the tin and slide carefully onto a serving plate. Top with the cherry compote just before serving.
If you’re worried you didn’t set the biscuit base hard enough, just leave it on the tin base and cunningly disguise it with a ring of flowers or fresh fruit. No-one will care once they start eating. If it doesn’t want to release, set the metal base on a warm stove for a few minutes, which will melt the hardened butter enough to get a spatula under it.