You’ve probably gathered by now that I really like food. At its finest, food is an artform, but even when it’s a messy-looking bowl of apple crumble it manages to enhance everything around it. To me, food isn’t just a form of fuel, it’s comfort, it’s fun, it’s family and friends, and some truly great memories.
Legs of lamb slowly roasting on a spit over an open fire in a field whilst canvas flaps in the breeze… a Sunday stew with the sounds of Formula 1 in the background… pancake day in New York… raspberries fresh from my grandmother’s garden, still warm from the sun… it’s all this and more.
I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it before here, but I write a weekly recipe column for my local paper. For me, the best thing about doing that is undoubtedly that I get to eat every recipe I write. The second best thing is the development stage, when I’m either daydreaming about food, or messing about in the kitchen to see if I can bring those fantasies to life.
I’ve been toying with the concept of a Turkish Delight cheesecake for a long time; wondering how I’d make it, taking ingredients out and putting others in, tweaking and refining it until finally… oh, sweet heaven!
They say a picture paints a thousand words, but I can assure you that the photograph of this week’s recipe doesn’t come close to describing the sublime reality of consuming this exquisite confection.
That first rush of sweet chocolate sweeping over the taste buds, blending perfectly with the delicately floral cream filling, followed by a palate-cleansing burst of bittersweet lemon jelly and a lingering echo of pistachio… it’ll send shivers down your spine!
This recipe is dedicated to a constant source of inspiration. This one’s for mum.
Turkish Delight Cheesecake
Takes: 45 minutes
+ 8 hours chilling time
300g bourbon biscuits
75g unsalted butter, melted
8 gelatine leaves
1kg cream cheese
275g caster sugar
12 drops red food colouring
300g double cream
1 & 1/2 tbsp rosewater
250g Turkish Delight
Line a base of a 23cm spring-form tin with greaseproof paper, and the sides with cling-film.
Place the bourbon biscuits in a food processor and blitz until reduced to fine crumbs. Add the butter, and pulse until well combined.
Turn the biscuit crumbs into the tin and press firmly down. Clean and dry the food processor, and pop the tin into the fridge to chill, while you make the cream cheese filling.
Place five gelatine leaves in cold water to soften. Pour the milk into a small saucepan, set over a medium heat and bring to just below the boil. Remove from the heat, squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and drop it in the milk. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved, and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place the cream cheese, and 165g of the sugar in the cleaned food processor, and whiz until the mixture is smooth. Add the cooled milk, and the food colouring to the cream cheese mixture and combine well.
Cut each piece of rose Turkish Delight into square quarters, and the lemon Turkish delight into small pieces. Set the rose aside to use for decoration. Beat the cream and rosewater together until soft peaks form. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cream and scatter in the lemon Turkish Delight. Combine by folding the two together.
Pour the filling into the spring-form tin and level it. Tap the tin to shake out any air pockets, and chill for four hours, or until the filling has set. Once it has, place the last three gelatine leaves in cold water to soften. Pour the remaining 100g of sugar and 125ml of water into a small saucepan, and set over a medium heat. Add the zest, and juice of all three lemons to the pan and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before straining the syrup through cheesecloth into a bowl. Don’t crush the pulp to wring extra syrup out or it will make the jelly cloudy.
While the syrup is still warm, squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves and stir them into the syrup. Allow the jelly to cool completely and then place in the fridge for 15 minutes until it thickens slightly. Pour over the cheesecake and return to the fridge for three to four hours, or until the top has set.
Once the top has set, blitz the husked pistachios in the (cleaned, again!) food processor until they resemble large bread crumbs. Use these, and the reserved rose Turkish Delight to decorate the cheesecake.
Carefully remove from the tin, peel off the cling-film and greaseproof paper, place on a pretty plate and serve to mum.