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John Whaite’s Goat’s cheese, rhubarb and thyme cheesecake
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You might take one look at this title, purse your lips, then slam my book shut, but just wait (if you’ve made it this far, you know your subconscious is intrigued). This is superb – perhaps the best cheesecake I’ve ever made, or indeed, eaten. The goat’s cheese is added to help tart the cheesecake up, in both title and flavour; it doesn’t taste exclusively of that, but it has a certain sour quality that isn’t achievable with just cream cheese. Thyme is such an adaptable herb, anyway, that it just echoes through this dessert without overpowering anything. If rhubarb is unavailable, just stew down some sharp blackberries or gooseberries with a little sugar.
Serves: 8 - 10
For the base:
250g digestive biscuits
50g rye crispbreads
80g unsalted butter
For the filling:
300g soft goat’s cheese (I like Rosary)
600g full-fat cream cheese
1 tbsp cornflour
150g caster sugar
3 large eggs
For the topping:
200g rhubarb, roughly chopped
175g caster sugar
4 thyme sprigs
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. Grease a 20cm square cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
2. For the base, put the ingredients into a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb. Add the butter and blend until you have a damp sandy consistency. Tip the mixture into the cake tin and compress to the bottom with your hands or the back of a spoon, then bake for 15 minutes to set. Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool, though do leave the oven on.
3. For the filling, whisk the goat’s cheese, cream cheese and buttermilk with the cornflour, until well combined – I do this in my KitchenAid fitted with the whisk attachment, but an electric hand-held beater would work fine. Add the sugar and whisk just until incorporated, then beat in the eggs until you have a smooth, fairly runny batter. Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the base and put it into the oven. Immediately reduce the heat of the oven to 140°C/120°C fan/gas mark 1. Bake for 1 hour–1 hour 10 minutes, until the cheesecake is set but has quite an impressive wobble to it when gently shaken.
4. Allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight (I know it’s quite a wait, but it needs that length of time to set; though a few hours would be okay if you’re really in urgent need of cheesecake).
5. For the topping, put the rhubarb and sugar into a saucepan over a medium-high heat with a splash of water and the thyme. Bring to the boil and cook until the rhubarb has given up entirely and you have a very loose jam. Pluck the thyme stalks out while you can, then leave to cool to room temperature. To serve, either pour the rhubarb mixture over the entire cheesecake and reveal its full grandeur, or serve slices with a little of the rhubarb mixture blobbed on top.
Recipe taken from Comfort: Food to soothe the soul by John Whaite, Kyle Books, 2017
This recipe was first published in Tue Jan 30 15:33:00 GMT 2018.