Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Thrifty cheesecake

This is a great way to use up bits and pieces from the fridge and larder to make a small dessert. I started making this after I froze a spare packet of cream cheese and when I defrosted much later, I discovered it had split. I hate throwing food away so had to think up ways to use it up. This makes enough for two individual cheesecakes - perfect for when you want something sweet but just a small taste of it.

What you need:
1/2 packet of soft cheese, such as Philadelphia 
A level dsp of icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon essence
2-3 plain hobnobs or other biscuits
A small knob of butter

What to do:
Put the biscuits in a paper bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Melt the butter in a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the biscuit crumbs and mix well. Spoon the mixture into two small ramekins and press it down well to make a firm base. Pop the ramekins in the fridge. 

Put the cheese and sugar into a bowl and mix well. Taste to check the balance of flavours - you want to be able to taste the cheese and it shouldn't be too sweet. Add the two essences and mix well. Spoon it over the bases, pressing it in and smoothing the top, and put back in the fridge. Leave for a good hour to set firmly. 

Cook's tips:
How much biscuit and butter you need will depend on the size of your ramekins. I find2.5 is about right to make a base of about half a centimetre deep. You need just enough butter to coat the crumbs so they'll stick together, but not so much they set rock hard in the fridge - the base should hold together but still be crumble. About a teaspoon should be about right.

I use the bowl over hot water as the amount of butter is too small to melt directly in the pan and tends to just dissipate across the surface without coating the crumbs.

For a slightly posher version, omit the essences and substitute a little grated lemon zest and some seeds from a vanilla pod.

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