Dinner parties are great - you get to clean the house thoroughly and put away the various bits and pieces that invariably lie around and you get to cook something fancier than the normal stuff to eat in front of the TV.
Not to mention that last Saturday was finally PYO premiere for asparagus. It is a bad year this year, the asparaguses are some 2 weeks late, but as I saw the announcement of the grand opening on the PYO web site, I decided on the steamed asparagus with the Bavarian egg sauce I've made before. I read the recipe before I started and opted for the second version. But instead of adding everything together and blending, I put together the dry ingredients (i. e. everything except the oil and vinegar) in the food processor and whizzed until things were chopped relatively finely, but where you could still make out the different bit - eggs, something nut-like and some green stuff. Only then did I add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and ended up with something that looked a bit like coarse mustard. But it was sort of dip-able and still had some texture to it. Super!
But the main thing was the dessert - New York Cheese Cake, something I've wanted to do for a long time. The original recipe is here.
85 g melted butter + a little more to brush the cake tin
140 g digestive biscuits
1 tbsp caster sugar
50 g toasted chopped hazelnuts
900 g full fat Philadelphia cheese
250 g caster sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
1 pinch salt
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
zest from 1 lemon, finely grated, about 2 tsp
1.5 tsp lemon juice
3 medium eggs + 1 yolk
200 ml sourcream
225 ml sourcream
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
- Line the bottom of a 23 cm springform with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- Melt the butter on a gentle heat, just enough to melt it, not to boil.
- Place the digestive biscuits in a food processor and blitz until they are down to fine crumb.
- Remove the cutting blade from the processor, then stir in the sugar and hazelnuts.
- Work the melted butter into the dry mixture, then press the blend into the bottom of the springform, then smooth out, so that the layer is as even as possible. This will be about half a cm thick.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then take out and let cool. Turn up the heat to 240 degrees C.
- Using a mixer and a big bowl, first soften up the Philadelphia cheese. This may require stopping and clearing the mixer whisks a few times.
- On low speed, gradually add the sugar, flour and salt. Make sure they are well incorporated.
- Continue with adding the vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice.
- Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time and mix them well in.
- Finally add the sourcream. The filling should be smooth and light and not too airy.
- Brush the sides of the springform with a little melted butter, then pour in the cheese filling.
- Place in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to 150 degrees C and bake for a further 25 minutes. If you shake the springform a little, the cake should wobble in the middle.
- Turn off the oven and allow the cake to cool down inside for a couple of hours. The surface may crack on top, that's not a problem.
- When the cheesecake is completely cooled down, stir together the final sourcream, sugar and lemon, then pour the glazing over the cake and with a spatula spread it all the way out to the edges.
- Cover and chill the cake in the fridge for at least 8 h before serving.
I thought to compensate for adding hazelnuts and used 100 g of butter, this turned out to be an extremely bad idea, as I had butter oozing out while the cake was baking and it kept oozing out afterwards as well, despite that I tried to soak up as much as I could with kitchen tissue. I have a bad feeling that even if I used 85 g, it would still have oozed out.
I also didn't use a springform, but my adjustable cake ring placed on top of a baking sheet lined with baking paper. This meant that not only did the surplus butter ooze out, but also some of the cheese filling, a lot more than I would have liked in fact.
But it baked OK and took a bit longer than 2 h to cool down completely. But I'm proud to say that the surface didn't crack.
I poured the glaze over the cake and spread it to the edges and into the fridge the cake went for its designated 8 h of chilling.
Although one of the neighbours blatantly declared that pudding was not for him, he was not able to resist having a piece. Lundulph had two, before I confessed that there was Philadelphia in the cake. So needless to say, the cake was fantastic, so creamy, not too sweet and with a lovely tinge of lemon and the sourness of the cream. The texture was quite fantastic too, I'm thinking it might be suitable to use for macaroons.
And I'm very proud of thinking of adding toasted hazelnuts to the biscuit mixture, it added an extra dimension to the cheesecake.