On my Patisserie course at college this week, we got to make blueberry cheesecake. I do love a good cheesecake even though they are not healthy. I’ve made a few over the years, some fantastic and others: well you’d put them straight in the bin. But this one made during my evening class I have to say was the best yet. It was another one where I couldn’t wait to get home to show my family what I’d created. I’d also managed to use gelatine for the very first time without it ruining the whole dessert.
We used frozen blueberries to make a compote which formed the basis of the flavour throughout the whole cheesecake. Our tutor said fresh blueberries would also work but as they were going to be pureed eventually it was fine to use frozen. Not only that, but frozen blueberries are so much cheaper than fresh ones! The blueberries were placed into a medium saucepan and heated through. As soon as liquid started to seep out, we added caster sugar. Our tutor then told us to wait until the blueberries were “violently boiling” to add a splash of lemon juice to the pan. We then took the blueberries off the heat and let them cool.
Our cheesecake was to have a ginger nut base. This worked really well with the blueberries. We crushed up the ginger nuts in a giant bowl using the end of a rolling pin and then added melted butter to the crushed biscuits. These were then put into the base of a lined springform tin. The springform tin had also been greased.
The next step was to weigh out and prepare the filling. Our tutor explained to us that we were going to make our cheesecake with a graduated colour layer effect starting with a plain layer of cheesecake and then adding blueberries to a smaller and smaller proportion of cheesecake mixture so that it darked the colour. Using leaf gelatine made me feel nervous but we were told to put the leaves into a small jug with cold water to cover. This softened the gelatine. While this was soaking, we weighed out some double cream and had to whisk it so it increased in volume by 50%. I was the only one in the class who chickened out of whisking my cream by hand. I just couldn’t get it to thicken. As soon as I got out the electric whisk, it thickened up immediately! Why waste time and effort when you have labour saving devices to help?
We then had to weigh out some cream cheese, caster sugar, natural yoghurt, vanilla extract and lemon juice into separate bowls. The cream cheese was whisked a bit first as it always comes out of the tub in one lump. I know you can get “low fat” cheesecakes and the like but I hate using low fat cream cheese and natural yoghurt for baking with. You never get the same effect. If you are making cream cheese frosting with low fat cream cheese, it never thickens up.
Once the cream cheese was ready, we had to add all the other ingredients into the bowl along with the whipped cream. My God this was when I felt like getting a massive spoon and digging in. I had to steel myself. The gelatine was then ready to be microwaved for 20 seconds and then folded into the cream cheese mix.
We also had to puree the blueberries using a hand held stick blender. It got very messy and we had to be careful that purple blueberry juice didn’t get splattered all over the kitchen and on ourselves.
We then were asked to measure out about half the cream cheese mix (which equated to roughly 300g) and to spread this on the ginger nut base. This needed to chill for about half an hour while we got on with the next layer. It didn’t quite set in the time, so our tutor shoved them in the college blast chiller for a few minutes.
We weighed out 50g of the blueberry puree into a separate bowl and then added it to the remaining cheesecake mix. This turned the mix into a delicate lilac colour. We then used half of this remaining mix to make the middle layer of the cheesecake. Once again, the cheesecakes were returned to the blast chiller to make the next layer set.
We had to set aside another 50g of puree to add to the remaining cheesecake mix. This turned the mixture into a purple colour as the photo below shows. The remaining puree was put into a presentation plastic bottle which chefs use for garnishes.
While the purple layer was being set in the blast chiller, our tutor asked us to make some sweet shortcrust pastry up for next week. This would be put into the freezer as we are going to be baking lemon meringue pie. Always great to make a head start!
We were also given ideas of how to decorate our cheesecakes. Whenever I’ve seen feathered patterns or hearts on garnished plates, they look so pretty. I was really keen to have a go at some hearts. We were shown how you use a skewer to drag it through the cheesecake. I started off around the edges like a clock face then chose to add extra hearts in between.
After a final blast in the chiller, we were asked if we wanted to add cream to our cheesecake decoration. I whipped up enough cream to make some rosettes around the edges and put the cream into a large piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. But I thought a two-tone effect would also work where you put some puree into the bag.
To finish my cheesecake, I piped twelve rosettes around the edge of the cake and then topped each one with a spare frozen blueberry. I was so thrilled with the whole thing but the next test was to get the cheesecake out from under the base and into my cake box to take home. One of the tutors suggested sticking it on the hot plate for a few seconds. This worked a treat!
We didn’t get to try out the cheesecake until the following day. I know I am doing WeightWatchers and to date I have lost 9.5lbs in 3 weeks. But faced with such a treat in front of me, that was too much temptation to bear. Mr S’s sister was coming for the weekend and we would have a slice of cheesecake for dinner. I dread to think what the Smartpoints were for it and I am ashamed to say I also had another slice on the Saturday. Wipe the slate clean, Sam enjoy the weekend and start again on Monday!
Love Sam xx