The great cheesecake bake-off
October 24, 2014

It’s been a long time since I cooked a dessert. I swore off baking, or in fact making any form of desserts, after a series of embarrassing dinner party disasters.

First there was the cheesecake that didn’t set. I substituted full fat ingredients for their low fat versions which meant as I triumphantly removed my springform tin edge, a sea of un-set gloop ran out, over the plate and onto the table, leaving behind a sad-looking soggy base.

Then there was the apricot and ricotta tart which still sends shivers down my spine. We’re still not sure exactly what went wrong – although I suspect it was again due to some ingredient substitution by me – ¬†and the result was a separated-mess of curdled cheese and fat with apricots floating inside.

So, with this in mind, imagine the reaction from Mr Manning when I declared I was going to return to the world of desserts and produce my own baked cheesecake for a dinner party…

We were prepared for the worst, but in a moment of rare success I managed to produce (with the help of a recipe) my own personal showstopper.

Baked cheesecake

For the task, I consulted one of my Olive magazine free recipe books – “30 easy desserts”, and carefully picked one with “easy” as the difficulty level. I vowed to follow the instructions to the letter, with no low-fat substitutions. Dessert is dessert, it’s never going to be good for you, so I decided to embrace it.

Imagine my delight though, when the ingredients called for extra light cream cheese and low-fat fromage frais. But I skip ahead. First it’s the base – 250g crumbled digestives and 125g melted butter, mixed together and tamped down in the springform tin then left to chill. Then you beat the cream cheese (400g) with the fromage frais (180ml) and some golden caster sugar 250g), later stirring in 2 beaten eggs and 1tsp vanilla extract. Simples!

Assembling baked cheesecake

And then comes the showstopper bit – a bowl of 250g melted dark chocolate. Pour half the cream mixture into your tin on top of your base, then spoon the chocolate in, then put the rest of the creaminess on top. Then you simply swirl it all around using a skewer or tip of a knife to make a rather professional-looking marbled cheesecake.

Cheesecake mix ready for the oven

Pop it in the oven, bake for 45 mins, and then chill overnight, and that’s it. A few chocolate curls on top to decorate and it’s an impressive dinner party treat. Even more impressive if you’ve got my reputation with desserts!

The result is a creamy, indulgent pud that tastes every bit as good as it looks. The fromage frais and dark chocolate mean it’s not too sweet, and I guess we could even kid ourselves it’s not quite as fattening as some other desserts.

Either way, it was the perfect way to round off a meal – plus a personal moment of baking triumph to banish the kitchen nightmares. Hurrah, next stop the Bake Off!Dinner party dessert of baked cheesecakeDelicious dessert of baked cheesecake