Introduction: Red Fruit Cheesecake: Culinary Perfection Through Science
This recipe is my own creation after reading countless ones from other people and several trials and errors. Each good idea and technical concept behind those recipes was added to my own. Additionally, after many attempts, I managed to remove all sugar(!) and decrease the recipe’s cost to a minimum by choosing carefully selected ingredients that are cheap, but that maximise the resulting flavour at the same time. I know that it is suspicious for me to say this, but I have yet to encounter a tastier cheesecake than the one resulting from this recipe. But I will let you be the judge of this! :)
- 400 g of digestive cookies
- 100 g of butter (or margarine)
- Milk (small amount just to obtain the right consistence)
- 500 g of Philadelphia-like cheese (those little triangle cheeses and fresh white cheese will also do)
- 1 regular can of condensed milk
- 400 ml of cream
- 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
- ~10 g of gelatin sheets
- 1 jar of red fruit jam
Things to do before everything else:
- Submerge the gelatin sheets in water.
- Place the cream in the fridge.
Step 1: The Crust
- Fragment completely the 400 gr. of cookies with a food processor and place them in a pile in the middle of the mould.
- Heat up the 100 gr. of butter to a completely liquid state.
- Place the melted butter on top of the ground cookies and mix it all together.
- Shape and flatten the crust throughout the mould until no loose bits can be seen.
- Place the mould in the freezer. This rapid cooling allows the crust’s fast hardening thereby preventing it from crumbling when placing the filling.
The key here is to add butter in a workable state so that the cookies and butter can form a binder. The butter’s flavour should not overcome that of the cookies or the rest of the cheesecake.
If the crust is still in a very dry state, instead of butter, try progressively adding small quantities of milk just enough to obtain a mouldable crust according to the image.
Step 2: The Filling: Foaming Process - Voluminous and Fluffy Whipped Cream
- Take out the cream from the fridge and place it in a clean container (Using a container with residue from other steps will hinder the cream’s expansion).
- Make whipped cream.
- After making the whipped cream, place it in the fridge to maintain its volume and fluffiness.
Although making whipped cream may seem trivial to some, here are some hints with scientific background to accelerate the expansion process. Placing the cream in the fridge is one of them. This results in a more viscous substance capable of maintaining the entrained air from the mixing process.
Another hint is, of course, the use of an electric whisk. Here, we are looking for speed and high surface area of the whisk. This whole process is based on the incorporation of air as much as possible and avoiding its release. To introduce and maintain the air, you should slightly tilt the container so that the also tilted whisk is covered by the cream. Then just move it up and down, and sideways avoiding the container’s walls (vibrating the walls may result in air release and delay the process). You should have a thick whipped cream in around 3 minutes.
Some may think that the cream could have some sugar, but I would advise against it; the resulting cheesecake may turn out to be overly sweet. The filling’ sweetness is conveyed by the condensed milk and further complemented by the topping. Remember that we are looking for a compensation of flavours; too much sugar hides some of it.
Step 3: The Filling: Combination and Explosion of Flavours
- Mix the entire cheese with the condensed milk and the vanilla extract.
The filling’s flavour will be intensified depending to a certain degree on the cheese’s level of salt. Tastier cream cheeses are capable of producing cheesecake with lots of flavour. This is obviously one of the most important components. However, you can also use one of those unsalted cream cheeses and it would be compensated by the condensed milk and vanilla extract, but the resulting flavour would not be as good.
Step 4: The Filling: Gelification Using Hydrocolloids
This is just a very fancy way of saying that we are going to thicken the filling with the gelatin sheets. These contain collagen that will stabilize the entire mixture if it is homogeneously dispersed. For all practical purposes, it means that the filling will thicken and maintain its shape for a longer period of time when outside the fridge.
- Grab the soaked gelatin sheets and place them in a small thermoresistant container.
- Add a spoonful of the filling to the container.
- Heat the container just enough for the gelatin sheets to be completely dissolved, without letting the mix reach boiling point. The proteins lose their gelification effectiveness if heated to high temperatures.
- Incorporate the gelatin-containing mix to the filling.
Step 5: The Filling: Mix All Components
In this step, all components are mixed together making the filling: the whipped cream (which increases volume, softness and also slightly contributes to the flavour); the cheese, condensed milk and vanilla extract (main contributors in flavour and aroma); and gelatin sheets (which will maintain the whole mix in one shape).
- When placing the whipped cream in the mix, do it carefully and cover everything homogeneously. Avoid using electric mixers, because it will decrease the whipped cream’s volume (i.e. escape of entrained air).
- Pour the whole mixture in the mould containing the crust.
- Place the mould in the fridge and leave it overnight.
Step 6: The Topping: the Easy Part
Although some may say that it is best to make the topping yourself to enhance the flavour, one of the objectives here is to be cost-effective. In other words, the time and cost expended, just to make a suitable jam for this recipe, are high. Either you have a homemade jam that is adequate for this recipe or you can just buy a good quality jam in the store.
- This part is easy; after leaving the mould in the fridge overnight, just spread the jam over the gelified filling.
One hint: if the jam is too viscous in the jar, just mix it around with a spoon before placing it on top of the filling.
Step 7: Finished!
After spreading the jam, the cheesecake is finished! Just take it out of the mould and it ready to be served.
I hope that you liked my instructable! If you did, please, vote for me!
Thank you! :)