Did I hear someone say cheese?

Cheese is one of those amazingly versatile foods that I just couldn’t live without. Literally. I have no idea how those poor lactose-intolerant people survive. Or pregnant women. If someone told me I could never eat cheese again I would most certainly cry.

Although I much prefer to eat cheese in the savoury sense (who can go past a ripe oozy brie?!), I like that you can create sweet numbers when the right occasion arises. Like baked cheesecake, yum. One of my Aunties was a cheesecake master in her day. Hands down she made the best damn cheesecakes I have ever tasted. Unfortunately she is no longer in a position to make them anymore but my family still rave about how out of this world they were.

The thing I loved most about her approach to making cheesecakes was that well, she didn’t really have one! She didn’t follow a recipe. She played with loads of different flavours, all of which seemed to work and she never had a cheesecake fail moment. Ever. Ok, I’m not entirely sure that’s true but in short she was an incredibly talented, creative artist (in the kitchen and elsewhere). She trusted her instincts and cooked from the heart, what greater inspiration do you need than that?!

So in her honour and the honour of my other amazing Aunty who is an equally fabulous cook (with perhaps a tad more respect for the science of baking!), I have had a go at my very own cheesecake creation.

Caramel and coffee cheesecake with candied macadamias (makes 12 individuals or 1 large cake)

Base

  • 200gm butter
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Filing

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 shots espresso coffee
  • 4 eggs
  • 250gm mascarpone
  • 500gm cream cheese

Candied macadamias

  • About 36 macadamias
  • Bamboo skewers
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  1. To make the base, melt 125gm of the butter and combine with the flour, sugar and coconut. Fresh into a tray and bake at 180 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until golden. Once cooked, let cool completely and blend in a food processor.
  2. Melt the remaining butter and combine with the crumbed base. Divide between the muffin tins or the cake tin and press down firmly. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Turn the oven down to 165 degrees.
  4. To make the caramel, combine the brown sugar and water and heat over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Add two tablespoons of the mascarpone and coffee and stir to combine. Set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Combine the remaining mascarpone and cream cheese and mix until combined. Add in the eggs, beating well between each addition. Add in the coffee caramel and beat until completely smooth.
  6. Pour into the cake tins, filling to about 2/3 of the way up. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the filling is fairly firm (it will still be a little wobbly but will firm up). Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. To make the candied macadamias, combine the sugar and water over medium heat until golden in colour (this could take between 7-10 minutes). Be careful not to burn it!
  8. Pierce each macadamia with a skewer. Wait until the toffee has thicken slightly before dipping the macadamias into the toffee to coat. Hang the skewer off the edge of something about 30cm high to allow the toffee to drip down (if you snap the top of the skewer, you can usually balance it off a cake cooling tray or something similar).
  9. To serve, top the cheesecakes with the candied macadamias and some whipped or double cream.
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