Sunday, October 10, 2010

Omnomnom cheesecake

I've known my mate Nat since kindergarten. It's one of those friendships that persist in spite of the fact that we have almost nothing in common (apart from a mutual habit of spending far too much time reading). Since primary school, we've been in touch only intermittently, but it's always good to catch up when the opportunity arises.

So when Nat came up to Christchurch for a few weeks, we arranged an evening of pizza and movies. Keeping my Edmonds challenge in mind, I offered to bring a dessert. I can't remember why I selected cheesecake, but this suggestion was met with the enthusiastic response "omnomnom". I could not agree more!

On Friday, nearing the end of a hectic week, I went across to the supermarket at lunchtime to gather the ingredients. Having picked up the cream cheese and sour cream, I wearily headed to the biscuit aisle, looking for the digestives needed for the base. I must have spent a full ten minutes wandering uncertainly back and forth, unable to see any. It was only when I gave up and turned to leave that I spotted them sitting inconspicuously in a corner of a top shelf.

Arriving home that afternoon, later than I had intended, I rushed immediately into the kitchen to make a start on the cheesecake. The Edmonds recipe is for a chilled cheesecake, much to my delight - though I love chilled cheesecakes, I really don't like the baked ones.

The first thing to do was the base: crush the biscuits into crumbs and mix with melted butter, lemon juice and rind. Taking a shortcut, I bunged everything into the food processor together and buzzed it until it looked ready.

Before pressing the crumb mixture into the tin, I lined the bottom with some baking paper. Since the crumb mixture wouldn't stick to the paper, this made it quite difficult to get the mixture firmly pressed into the tin, but meant it was much easier to remove the cheesecake later. It was also tricky to press the crumb mixture up the sides of the tin, but eventually I had a reasonable result.

With the base chilling in the fridge, I made a start on the filling. The main ingredients are cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and lemon, but there's also gelatine to make it set. The first instruction was to combine the gelatine with water and 'leave to swell for 10 minutes'. Well, the gelatine clumped up into big gloopy lumps the moment I mixed in the water - perhaps I wasn't supposed to stir it. Oh well.

While the gelatine was 'swelling' I beat up the cream cheese and sour cream, then adding the sugar, lemon rind and juice. This mixture was long ready by the time the 10 minutes was up on the gelatine. Before I could add the gelatine, I had to dissolve it. Setting my little gelatine bowl over another one containing boiling water, I stirred until I had a thin paste.

This went into the filling mixture, and I mixed it frantically, worried it would set before it was properly combined. My smooth mixture turned a little lumpy-looking with the addition of the gelatine, but further mixing only made it worse, as the filling was beginning to set. I had to get it into the base as soon as possible.

15-odd minutes in the fridge had been enough to set the base quite well; I now poured the filling in and stuck the whole cheesecake back in the fridge to set. The whole process had only taken about 20 minutes, giving me time to head out for a walk while the cheesecake chilled.

On arriving back from my walk, I changed, took out the cheesecake and headed off. Nat was staying with her friend Ash, and the three of us spent a good while chatting before ordering pizza from the local Dominoes and settling down to watch some movies. Incidentally, I have to recommend the 1976 film adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie - not as a horror movie, but for sheer comedic value.

As for the cheesecake, I'd recommend that too - and not for comedic value. It was really good. Nat, with considerable forethought, had limited her pizza consumption so she could manage seconds of the cheesecake. Ash and I, full of pizza, only managed one piece each.

Definitely have a go at this one. It's quick to make, and not very difficult - just be patient when you're pressing in that crumb mixture. Reduced-fat versions of cream cheese and sour cream work fine: that's what I used, and you wouldn't know the difference. Also, when you're putting together the filling, keep tasting - I actually added a third tablespoon of lemon juice because I found it too sweet. Next time I'll reduce the sugar as well as upping the lemon.

Edmonds cheesecake - it's omnomnom alright!

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