Vanilla and Amaretti Cheesecakes with Balsamic-Infused Strawberries (Revisited)

Right then, for reasons unknown, there are some people (Ben) who don’t like Christmas Pudding so I feel that this year, an alternative little delectable pud needs to be offered. These little darlings are the perfect solution. Firstly, they can be made one month in advance and frozen, with just the finishing touches required at the festive feast. And secondly, they are completely wow!

The rich, smooth creaminess of the cheesecakes are perfectly contrasted by the warm, sweet, lusciousness of the strawberries: their flavour emphasised by sweetened balsamic vinegar (most unexpected). They look fabulous, are so easy to make and taste out of this world! Only problem is, I might have to have one of these AND Christmas pudding…

Serves 4

What you need…

8 x chefs’ rings (like tall cookie cutters), 5.5cm diametre x 6cm deep (easily available online)

10 Amaretti biscuits

250g full fat cream cheese

125g caster sugar

125g crème fraiche

240ml double cream

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

for the strawberries

200g strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 teaspoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

What to do…

In a large bowl, tip in your cream cheese, caster sugar, crème fraiche, double cream and vanilla seeds. Whisk until smooth and thickened up so that the whisks leave a distinct trail.

Place the chefs’ rings on a flat plate, lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into each ring, pushing the mixture down to make sure there are no gaps and filling the rings to about half way up (this recipe makes for quite little cheesecakes but in my view, they are perfectly proportioned).

Pop them in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set.

If you are having friends around for dinner, you can do this bit in the morning and leave the rest until you are about ready to serve.

If you are preparing them for waaaaay in advance, cover them with cling film and pop in the freezer until the day you want to indulge and then place them in the fridge to defrost slowly.

Just before you are ready to serve, pop your Amaretti biscuits into a plastic zip-lock bag and using a rolling pin, crush them inside the bag to create a dusting.

Remove the cheesecakes from the fridge and set aside at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Place the Amaretti crumbs on a plate and then dip each of the cheesecakes in their chefs’ rings into the crumbs, 2 – 3 times if necessary – to make sure that the bottom is thoroughly covered. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top of each one as well.

Then, hold your breath (!) and lightly shake each cheesecake from the chefs’ ring onto its serving plate. Despite your total disbelief, it will gently drop down the ring and then plop out beautifully onto your serving plate – looking gorgeous!

Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over a high heat. Tip in the strawberries and sugar and cook, stirring continually for about 1 minute. Pour over the balsamic and cook for a further 1 minute. Yup, that’s it!!!!

Spoon some of the strawberries onto the plate alongside the cheesecake. Absolutely delicious – the strawberries contrast the cheesecake perfectly, both elements enhancing the flavour of the other. Serve your vanilla and Amaretti cheesecake with balsamic-infused strawberries together with a wee glass of Disaronno Italian liqueur or a lovely little dessert wine to complete the indulgence! An absolute treat to be enjoyed any time of the year, not just at Christmas!!!

Inspired by…

Stuart Gillies, with James Martin on Saturday Kitchen

How easy…

Really easy, the only nervy bit is when you’re watching the cheesecake slowly drop through the chefs’ rings but be patient and it will be fine!

 

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