MacNean Cheesecake with Raspberries and White Chocolate

In the restaurant, we serve this cheesecake with a Jammie Dodger and sometimes a nice Quenelle of Raspberry Sorbet or Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream. The cheesecake itself is really light, as we use a light cream cheese from Jane and Kieran Cassidy, who run Kilbeg Dairy Delights in Kells, Co Meath. Look out for their products, as they really do have the most wonderful range of soft cheeses and yoghurt. I like to decorate the plate with dried raspberries and baby Maltesers, both of which are available from good catering suppliers.

Ingredients


  • 400g (14oz) cream cheese
  • 100g (4oz) icing sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 200g (7oz) white chocolate, broken into squares
  • 200ml (7fl oz) cream
  • 8 shortbread biscuits, finely broken up
  • White chocolate curls, to decorate
  • Dried raspberries (shop bought), to decorate
  • Baby maltesers (shop bought), to decorate
  • Spun sugar, to decorate
  • Fresh mint sprigs, to decorate
  • 8 Jammie Dodgers, to serve
  • For the Poached Raspberries:
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) red wine
  • 2 tblsp crème de cassis
  • 75g (3oz) caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
  • 400g (14oz) raspberries, plus extra to decorate
  • For the Shortbread Biscuits (Makes 32)
  • 275g (10oz) butter, diced, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 150g (5oz) icing sugar, sieved, plus extra to decorate
  • 275g (10oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150g (5oz) cornflour
  • For the Plain Chocolate Curls (Makes 20–30)
  • 200g (7oz) plain chocolate, broken into squares (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • For the White Chocolate Curls (Makes 10–15)
  • 100g good-quality bar of white chocolate
  • For the Spun Sugar
  • 100g (4oz) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp powdered glucose

Method

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla seeds and the lemon rind and juice for about 5 minutes, until smooth and light.
  2. Melt the 200g white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little. Meanwhile, place the cream in a separate bowl and whip until stiff.
  3. Fold the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture and then carefully fold in the whipped cream. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm (1/2in) plain nozzle and place in the fridge until needed.
  4. To poach the raspberries, place the red wine and crème de cassis in a pan with the sugar, cinnamon stick, star anise and vanilla pod and seeds and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until reduced by half and slightly thickened. Place the raspberries in a heatproof bowl and pour over the wine mixture through a fine sieve, discarding the cinnamon stick, star anise and vanilla pod. Stir to combine and leave to cool.
  5. To assemble the cheesecake, divide the poached raspberries among martini glasses and crumble the shortbread biscuits on top. Pipe the cheesecake mixture right up to the rim of the glasses and decorate with raspberries, white chocolate curls (see below), dried raspberries, baby Maltesers, spun sugar (see below) and mint sprigs.
  6. To serve, arrange the cheesecakes on plates with a Jammie Dodger.
  7. Cook Ahead: The poached raspberries will keep in the fridge for up to five days. All the other elements can be prepared 24 hours in advance and assembled just before serving.
  8. For the Shortbread Biscuits (Makes 32): These are also a delicious accompaniment to any creamy dessert or just with a cup of tea!
  9. Place the butter and icing sugar in a bowl, then sieve the flour and cornflour on top. Using a hand-held beater, mix until you have achieved a smooth dough, adding 1 tablespoon cold water to help bring the mixture together if necessary. Cover with clingfilm. Place in the fridge to rest for at least 1 hour and preferably overnight.
  10. Roll out the shortbread on a lightly floured work surface until it’s 3mm (1/8in) thick. Stamp out discs using a 5cm (2in) fluted cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet and leave to rest again in the fridge for 10 minutes – this will help to stop them from shrinking.
  11. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).
  12. Bake the cookies for 10–12 minutes, until golden brown. Using a fish slice, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  13. To serve, arrange on a plate or use as required.
  14. Cook Ahead: These biscuits keep well in an airtight container for 2–3 days. Alternatively, the dough can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.
  15. For the Plain Chocolate Curls (Makes 20–30): I find that this works best in a plastic container in a microwave, as it’s quicker and saves washing up and time. However, the same process can be done in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water – just remember to take the bowl off the heat when there is a small amount of chocolate that is still unmelted, then stir the melted chocolate to melt the final little pieces.
  16. Break up the chocolate and put it in a plastic container such as a large measuring jug. Start by giving the chocolate bursts of 30 seconds in the microwave, stirring between each burst. When the chocolate starts to melt, reduce the bursts to 20 or 10 seconds and finally 5 seconds. The aim is to stop heating the chocolate when there is still a small amount of unmelted chocolate. The final melting should be done by stirring the chocolate.
  17. Spread the tempered chocolate in a thin, even layer on a sheet of acetate paper. When the chocolate turns matte and is just beginning to set, cut it into 0.5cm (1/4in) strips with a trellis wheel. Carefully roll up the acetate of chocolate and secure it with sellotape until the chocolate is set.
  18. When the chocolate is set, carefully open out the acetate over a piece of parchment paper and the chocolate curls will drop out. Use as required.
  19. Cook Ahead: These can be made up to 24 hours in advance and carefully layered up in pieces of parchment paper in a large airtight container. Just be careful that none of the curls are touching each other or they may get damaged. Keep in a cool place, but not the fridge, as the chocolate may lose some of its wonderful sheen.
  20. For the White Chocolate Curls (Makes 10–15): Using a large-bladed knife held with both hands or a cheese slice, pull the blade across the chocolate, pressing down slightly. As the blade comes towards you, the chocolate will form curls (if the chocolate is too hard, it will be brittle and will break rather than forming curls, in which case leave at room temperature for 5 minutes before trying again). You will find that as the chocolate bar gets thinner it will be harder to form nice curls. Use as required.
  21. Cook Ahead: These can be made up to 24 hours in advance and carefully layered up in pieces of parchment paper in a large airtight container. Keep in the fridge and just be careful that none of the curls are touching each other or they may get damaged.
  22. For the Spun Sugar: Place the sugar, powdered glucose and 120ml (4fl oz) water into a heavy-based pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the mixture turns a golden caramel colour. Use a pure bristle pastry brush dipped in cold water to brush the inner sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals from forming while simmering. Do not stir the sugar, as this will cause the syrup to crystallise and become hard.
  23. Using a sugar/jam thermometer, cook the syrup until it reaches 140°C (280°F). The sugar syrup should be a thick honey consistency and should not be too runny. It will thicken a little as it cools, but if it gets too thick, simply heat again and it will quickly loosen. Immediately remove from the heat and plunge the base of the pan into cold water to halt the cooking.
  24. To spin the sugar, dip a teaspoon into the syrup, then flick the teaspoon back and forth over a broom handle or rolling pin to create long hair-like strands. Gather up the strands of spun sugar and create shapes by simply moulding the strands in your hands. Arrange on a piece of parchment paper and do not touch until needed.
  25. For Spun Sugar Baskets: Place a liberal amount of groundnut oil over the back of a ladle. When the sugar has become a state of liquid thread, use a spoon to scoop some of the sugar up and weave it backwards and forwards over and around your ladle to form a fine and intricate sugar basket. Gently remove the basket from the ladle and repeat until you have enough sugar baskets for your purpose. Arrange on a piece of parchment paper and do not touch until needed.
  26. Cook Ahead: These should be made about 30 minutes before you want to serve them, otherwise they will start to disintegrate. However, if you store them in an airtight container with a silica gel pack, they will keep for up to 3–4 hours in airtight conditions.

Notes:

This recipe and many more are available in Neven Maguire's The MacNean Restaurant Cookbook, published by Gill & MacMillan Books and available to buy here.





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