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Friday 25 July 2014

Let Her Eat Cake: Bellini Cheesecake

Picture the scene: it's summer during the late 1930s in Venice, and Hemingway has just slumped into Harry's Bar to demand a drink and look for somewhere to cool down. What's that? A bellini? Why of course...

Ripe peaches have got to be the taste of summer and this cheesecake is a little like a bellini in cake form: ok, it doesn't contain prosecco (you get to drink that alongside it) but it is light, refreshing, fragrant, fruity and not a little bit boozy. Fresh peaches to caramelise beautifully are an absolute must for this recipe. Try and get them from a greengrocers, rather than a supermarket chiller, they'll be so much better.

Summer Peach Cheesecake
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Chilling time: 4 hours +

You will need:
For the base:
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 80g butter
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 50g white chocolate, grated
For the topping:
  • 100g mascarpone
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp crème de pêche (peach liqueur - use peach juice or bellini puree if you can't find any, but I got mine from Aldi!)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
  • 1 fresh peach, peeled and diced
To decorate:
  • 3 fresh peaches, sliced
  • 2 tbsp crème de pêche
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • handful of almonds, chopped
Make it!
The base:
  1. Grease a 23cm, spring form tin.
  2. Place the biscuits in a zip-lock bag, seal and bash with something heavy until crushed. Tip into mixing bowl.
  3. Melt the butter and stir into the crushed biscuits, until completely combined.
  4. Stir in the almonds and finely grated white chocolate.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the tin, pressing down firmly and to the edges into an even layer.
  6. Cover and place in the fridge to chill.
The topping:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the mascarpone, cream cheese and icing sugar until well combined. Add more icing sugar to taste, if you like.
  2. Stir in the crème de pêche, vanilla and diced peach until evenly distributed.
  3. Spoon onto the chilled base, smoothing over the top.
  4. Cover and place in the fridge for at least four hours to set, or overnight.
  5. When ready to serve, carefully remove the ring part of the tin.
  6. Place the fresh peaches on a clean baking tray or ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the crème de pêche, caster sugar and chopped almonds.
  7. Place under a hot grill until the peach slices are beginning to caramelise and soften (be careful that the almonds aren't catching) or use a chef's blowtorch to caramelise the sugar. 
  8. Transfer to a plate to cool before arranging on top of the cheesecake and sprinkling with a few more almonds. Serve with some very, very cold prosecco and bask in glorious summerness.

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