Friday, January 30, 2015

Adding Ingredients

Jaggery-Laced Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Jaggery-laced chocolate & peanut butter cheesecake.
And yes, I did have this for breakfast today.

I'm not a baker, and this is undoubtedly a good thing. I have a sweet tooth and a great love for cake, and if I were a baker I'd have to accept becoming a balloon as well. That being said, baking is a skill that adds a degree of versatility to my abilities in the kitchen, so there are a few things I want to make sure I know how to bake. My first ever attempt at baking involved a sponge cake - a dense mass of flour, sugar, butter and eggs that refused to rise. My baby brother was the only one willing to try it, probably because he didn't know any better at that age. Over the years, things have gotten a little better. I can make a decent pumpkin pie, and am occasionally successful with my brownies and lemon tarts. 

I've always had a thing for baked cheesecake, a dessert I was introduced to in Hong Kong. Last week I decided it was time to add a version of it to my limited repertoire. My childhood memories are of a rich, solid salty-sweet cheesecake, but the recipe below produces something more delicate and definitely sweeter. It is adapted from a BBC Food recipe by Nigella Lawson, and the original can be found here. I am changing the instructions for hand-mixing, modifying amounts and substituting a few ingredients, notably jaggery for brown sugar in the topping as I wanted to use something Bangladeshi. Note that if you do have access to a food processor, use it - it makes life a lot easier! 

Ingredients (for the base):
  • 200.00 g double chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 50.00 salted peanuts
  • 100.00 g dark chocolate chips
  • 50.00 g unsalted butter, softened

Ingredients (for the filling)
  • 400.00 cream cheese
  • 3.00 whole eggs
  • 3.00 egg yolks
  • 180.00 g caster sugar
  • 100.00 ml soured cream
  • 200.00 g smooth peanut butter

Ingredients (for the topping)
  • 200.00 ml soured cream
  • 100.00 milk chocolate chips
  • 20.00 g of jaggery, crushed
  • 10.00 g of caster sugar


For the base
  • In separate bowls, crush the digestives and the peanuts using a pestle
  • Once crushed, combine both ingredients with the softened butter and mix well (I found it easy to keep using the pestle for the mixing)
  • Use the resulting mixture to line a 9" springform baking tin, cover and leave to chill in the fridge

On the left, the base
On the right, the filling waiting to be poured  

For the filling 
  • Preheat the oven to 170C while preparing the filling
  • Beat the eggs and yolk gently
  • Mix in the caster sugar and continue beating until dissolved, then addd the sour cream and mix until the colours are even
  • Heat the peanut butter in the microwave for 20 seconds - this should give it a gooey consistency and make it easier to mix
  • Scrape the peanut butter in with the egg-sugar-cream and mix until smooth (I found it easier using a fork here rather than a whisk)
  • Finally, add the cream cheese and mix again until smooth - taking care to break up any chunks of cheese
  • Take base out of the fridge and pour the filling over it 
  • Bake for 1 hour, checking at the 50 minute mark. The top only should be firm and set, as the cake will be baked further once the topping is added

Cheesecake with topping, waiting to back
into the oven

For the topping
  • Warm the sour cream, chocolate chips, jaggery and caster sugar over a low heat
  • Whisk to blend evenly, ensuring no chunks of unmelted chocolate or jaggery remain
  • Pour over the cheesecake and put it back into the oven for a final 10 minutes
  • Cool the cake to room temperature and refrigerate overnight before serving

Additional Info:
The jaggery makes only the slightest difference to the topping flavour, and can easily be substituted back to brown sugar. If I were to make this again, I'd cut down on the sugar in the filling by 15 g and add  a little sea salt - just to get that salty peanut butter taste I'm used to from PBJ sandwiches.

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