I’ve used cherries here because they take two things that are already delicious together – cheesecake and chocolate – to a whole new level. You really can’t beat a good cheesecake and this one is mega.
For the cheesecake:
150 g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
300 g dark chocolate digestives
100 g golden caster sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour
900 g full-fat cream cheese
2 large eggs, preferably free-range or organic
100 ml double cream
50 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
For the cherries
300 g dried sour cherries
3 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
1 splash rum, brandy or grappa
For the chocolate sauce:
100 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
200 ml single cream
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 24cm springform cake tin with butter.
- Finely crumble the biscuits into a bowl then mix in the melted butter. When it’s well combined, spoon it into the cake tin, spread it evenly so it covers the base, then press it down. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes, then let it cool. Turn the oven up to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.
- To prepare the cherries, add them to a pan with the sugar, the zest of the orange, the juice of half, and the cinnamon. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and put them to one side. Add a splash of rum and the vanilla pod to the pan, then put it on a low-to-medium heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and leave to cool.
- To make the cheesecake, combine the sugar and cornflour in a bowl, then add the cream cheese and beat well. Add the eggs and beat again until the mixture is smooth and light. Slowly beat in the cream, then add the reserved vanilla seeds and zest of the orange, and beat again.
- Using a slotted spoon, take half the cherries out of the pan and gently fold them into the cheesecake mix with the chocolate. Spoon this over the biscuit base, and gently shake the cake tin to level out the surface. Pop a few cherries on top and gently press them in. Scoop the remaining cherries and juices into a small bowl to serve with the cheesecake.
- Put the cheesecake in the centre of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is lightly brown and the edges have set. If it looks like it’s browning too much, cover the top with some tin foil for the rest of the cooking time. When the time’s up, take the cake out of the oven and either leave it to cool at room temperature, or, if you like your cheesecake really firm, pop it in the fridge until completely chilled.
- Just before serving, make the chocolate sauce. Pour the single cream into a small pan and place over a low heat. Cook until it just starts to bubble, then add the chocolate and whisk gently until it has all melted.
- Serve your gorgeous cheesecake with the bowl of reserved cherries and a jug of warm chocolate sauce on the side so people can drizzle over as much or as little as they like.