Vanilla and Amaretti Cheesecakes with Balsamic-Infused Strawberries

I saw a version of these completely delectable little cheesecakes on Saturday Kitchen and thought that I must give them a go. Wow! The TV didn’t do them justice – the rich, smooth creaminess of the cheesecake is perfectly contrasted by the warm, sweet, lusciousness of the strawberries, their flavour emphasised by balsamic vinegar (most unexpected). They look fabulous, are so easy to make and taste out of this world!

 Serves 4

 What you need…

 4 x chefs’ rings, 5.5cm diametre x 6cm deep (easily available online)

10 Amaretti biscuits

250g 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. Smooth off the top with a palette knife and 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.

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 end is thoroughly covered. Dip both ends in the Amaretti crumbs.

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.

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 cheesecakes with balsamic-infused strawberries together with a wee glass of Disaronno Italian liqueur or a lovely little dessert wine to complete the indulgence! Yum!

Tip…

Chefs’ rings are almost like slices of metal piping you might expect on a building site! Another description would that of a cookie cutter, double the normal depth.

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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