Blackcurrants Ahoy!

There are years where you get gluts of fruit and veg from both the garden and the allotment. 2 years ago we had to share our damson harvest with our neighbours – picking from the tree filled 2 large buckets! Last year we offered to share the harvest again – we would keep 1 damson, they could have the other. The tree was not kind to us, so we hacked it back and this year looks to be a good one.

I know, everyone hates those cooking blogs where it takes ages to get to the point. But if I don’t tell you this stuff now, you’ll not read it after you’ve had the recipe, so bear with me.

Courgettes are an easy one to get rid of. Grate them, squeeze out a lot of the water, and sub them for carrots in your favourite carrot cake recipe. Ours is bullet-proof, comes from the Usbourne Family Cook Book (spot the ducks on every page). Blackcurrants used to be easy. We’d jam them, pie them, crumble them, and make blackcurrant gin/vodka (usually before making the pie or crumble as they retain a lot of their booziness after cooking). Couple of years ago we had an absolute glut and we’re still working our way through the jam. This year is already looking to be a good one so we needed a way to use them ASAP.

Cue blackcurrant cheesecake. I branded this one an experimental cheesecake as this was the first time I’d tried it, but then thinking on it it was always going to work. After all, marmalade works as a cheesecake ingredient (ginger biscuit base, stick to the classic combinations here) so why shouldn’t blackcurrant?

Oven to 180C, 23cm spring-form tin at the ready on a baking tray, quick spin round the ingredients, Clive, then back to me. You’re going to need:

  • 175g HobNob/Oatie/Indestructodunk biscuits. Not chocolate-covered, though.
  • 75g butter, melted.
  • 2 x large tubs Philadelphia (the 375g ones)
  • 1 x tub of Marscapone (~300g ish. Dunno. 1 tub is an acceptable unit of measurement here!)
  • 175g caster sugar (this is less than my usual recipe, but then a lot of sugar is coming in from the jam)
  • 4 eggs (another think I’ve usually got a glut of this time of year)
  • 300ml sour cream
  • 1 jar of home-made blackcurrant jam. The jar I used was quite large!

As a quick aside, blackcurrant jam is one of the easiest to make, the stuff has so much natural pectin (the stuff that makes jams set) there’s no need to go scrounging around for any more. The trick is to keep the stuff runny enough to spread! Here is an exceedingly thorough guide to making this most wonderful of jams –

Right. If you’e followed any of my cheesecakes before you know the drill. Blitz up the biccies into a nice crumb, mix into the melted butter, spread into the bottom of the spring-form tin and press it flat with either your knuckles or an old potato masher. Stick that in the oven, bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, get a big bowl, dump in the Philly, the marscapone, and the sugar. Mix thoroughly. Then crack in the eggs and mix them in – careful not to over-mix. Now mix through the soured cream. Finally, as the oven is coming to the end of the 10 minutes, scoop in the jar of jam and mix thoroughly again – I used jam with bits in, so there are whole blackcurrants distributed through the mix.

When it’s done, take out the base and pour over the cheesecake mix, use a spatula to clean the bowl as best you can. I’ve got this down to a fine art, much to the disappointment of the kids who are keen for the lick!. Put this into the oven, bake for 48 minutes then switch off the oven, crack the door a little, and allow the whole thing to cool for ~2-3 hours. Remove from the oven, transfer to fridge, and suffer for the rest of the night knowing it’s there but knowing you can’t cut into it until it’s properly chilled.

Blackcurrant Cheesecake. Mmmmmm.

And this is what it looks like the next morning. The outer rim of the top edge has a lovely caramelisation to it. Feedback from the usual crowd of testers (my wonderful family) rate it highly, reckon it could probably take more in the way of fruit. So the experiments continue. In the dehydrator at the moment I’ve today’s pick of blackcurrants, I’m going to dehydrate them completely and blitz them to a powder so that can get added to the Mk II of this beastie. Going to make more blackcurrant jam from the next lot of picking, that can go into an upcoming bake… Also looking at blackcurrant jelly recipes to give this a top-layer of fruity goodness.

And obviously, if blackcurrant jam works, there’s nothing to stop raspberry jam from being awesome as a cheesecake flavour. Strawberries probably not so much, unless it’s a smooth jam or you’ve chopped the strawberries up small.

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