MATT PRE­STON

The best ever cheese­cake.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - See how far some canny cus­tomi­sa­tion can take this recipe. Check out Matt’s deca­dent choco­late cheese­cake at de­li­cious.com.au

THROUGH­OUT his­tory Amer­i­cans have been known to get things some­what wrong, such as slav­ery, Wounded Knee, Agent Or­ange, the CIA’S Project Mkul­tra and Pee-wee Her­man. On the other hand, boy, you’ve got to re­spect how much they love their cheese­cake.

So here is the only recipe you’ll need – a su­per creamy baked cheese­cake that doesn’t stick to the roof of your mouth. Then it’s just a mat­ter of vary­ing it to cre­ate a cheese­cake for ev­ery mood.

In­gre­di­ents: 1x 250g packet of Granita bis­cuits (or any type of di­ges­tive bis­cuit) 280g caster sugar 75g un­salted but­ter, melted 750g cream cheese, room tem­per­a­ture 4 eggs 2½ tbs lemon juice 1 tsp vanilla ex­tract ¼ tsp salt flakes 300ml dou­ble cream

Prepa­ra­tion: Pre­heat oven to 175˚C. Line a 23cm-di­am­e­ter spring­form tin with bak­ing pa­per.

Triple wrap the out­side of the cake tin. Place three long strips of foil at slightly dif­fer­ent an­gles, one on top of an­other. Lift and scrunch the edges up around the tin so they form a wa­ter­proof “cup”.

Make the base: Blitz the bis­cuits to a fine crumb. Trans­fer to a mix­ing bowl, stir in 60g caster sugar, then add the melted but­ter and com­bine. Pour bis­cuit base mix­ture into the pre­pared cake tin and press down firmly and evenly with the back of a spoon. Bake for 10 min­utes. Re­move from oven and set aside to cool.

Make the fill­ing: Place the cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer fit­ted with a pad­dle at­tach­ment and beat un­til smooth and creamy. Add re­main­ing sugar and beat un­til dis­solved. Add eggs, one at a time, en­sur­ing they are fully in­cor­po­rated by beat­ing be­tween each ad­di­tion. Re­duce mixer speed and add lemon juice, vanilla ex­tract and salt and mix un­til com­bined. Add cream and mix well un­til com­bined.

Assem­ble: Pour the fill­ing over the cooled bis­cuit base and then place the tin into a large, deep roast­ing tray. Care­fully fill the tray with wa­ter about 2cm deep and place into the oven. Bake un­til golden and cooked through – about 65 min­utes.

Wait: The se­cret to this baked cheese­cake’s deca­dent creami­ness is cool­ing it slowly, so turn off the oven and leave the door closed. Leave cheese­cake to cool in­side the oven for at least 1 hour. Re­move from the oven. Cool com­pletely be­fore re­leas­ing from the tin.

Cus­tomis­ing the cheese­cake This cheese­cake is sen­sa­tional as it is, but it also makes a great base on which to build your cre­ative cus­tomi­sa­tions. Here are some ideas to get you started:

The crumb: The eas­i­est way to step up your cheese­cake is to swap the bis­cuits in your crumb with per­haps crushed gin­ger­nuts or choco­late rip­ple bis­cuits.

Re­mem­ber you can also flavour the but­ter that will bind these crumbs with spices – per­haps pow­dered gin­ger, cin­na­mon and star anise with the gin­ger­nuts, or a few drops of rose­wa­ter or grated dark choco­late with the choc­cie bis­cuit crumbs (both ex­cel­lent if you are adding rasp­ber­ries).

Just re­mem­ber to en­sure that all flavour­ings match with any other top­pings or se­cret lay­ers you are adding.

The se­cret layer: While mar­bling the cheese­cake is one way of adding flavour, I love in­clud­ing a furtive spread of jam like rasp­berry, mar­malade or sour cherry on the cooled base, just be­fore you pour in the cheese layer. Pick the jam to re­flect your mood, the sea­son or the oc­ca­sion.

I like us­ing apri­cot jam with a gin­ger­nut base flavoured with a lit­tle car­damom, then leav­ing ev­ery­thing else plain and un­topped.

The creamy bit: Try adding some melted dark choco­late to the whipped cream cheese (be­fore the eggs) to make a choco­late cheese­cake. Per­haps bal­ance the choco­late’s bit­ter­ness by us­ing sour cream rather than cream.

Or add ba­nanas pureed with a lit­tle lemon juice to your cream cheese, egg and cream mix for a ba­nana cheese­cake. (I serve mine with salty caramel syrup.)

The top­ping: While I love the pris­tine na­ture of a baked cheese­cake, there is no doubt that a top­ping can add some more joy. Fresh fruit tum­bling off one side can add drama and, if it’s fresh figs un­der syrup made from re­duc­ing amaretto liqueur for 8 min­utes, so­phis­ti­ca­tion too.

Try top­ping with over­lap­ping petals of fresh mango for a pretty ef­fect, or set a layer of jelly over the cooled cheese­cake.

Even sim­pler is to top with jelly cubes, cut from a shal­low 1cm layer of firmed jelly (made with half the amount of wa­ter). Toss half of these in a mix of a lit­tle cit­ric acid and ic­ing sugar for an oc­ca­sional burst of sour­ness – es­pe­cially good with rasp­berry or lime jelly.

BIG CHEESE This is the only cheese­cake recipe you’ll ever need.

MATT PRE­STON

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