There’s a special tribe of people. They’re the cheesecake eaters.

I’m not sure I’m one of them. It’s the combination of sludgy fat with beaten up biscuits. It just doesn’t seem to do justice for either.
 
To join the tribe you need a high tolerance for the saccharine. You also need to be pretty committed to either your exercise routine, or elasticised pants.

As it turns out, I live with one of them. And at the cusp of  a particularly poisonous day for The Hungry One I asked if if anything might make it better.

“….cheesecake….?” was the weakish response.

We weren’t the kind of people who wrote their own vows. Learning from the mistakes of Jennifer and Brad I didn’t publicly promise to ‘always make him his favourite banana milkshake, or the equivalent. But I think when you’re married to a cheesecake eater and they call for emergency dose, it’s only fair to respond as best as you can*.

What he got was a mix of fatty dairy with a slightly salted caramel (just to make it a little more grown up) that was then studded with nuggets of dried figs that I stole from the Christmas pudding supplies.

The base was a mix of chocolate digestive biscuits and ginger nuts.  It was baked in the oven and I sneakily folded in two tablespoons of sifted flour to help stop it from cracking on the top. You can’t taste the flour, but if you’re ever worried about a starchless cheescake creating a sinkhole-worthy slit and don’t want to fanny about with a water bath, it’s not a bad trick.

To be honest, the caramel was a pain in the arse to make. It’s a dry caramel (ouch! hot!) that gets cooked down again when you add the cream. It means that at the start the whole thing seizes up into an amber shard of glass that needs plenty of coaxing and stirring to relax back into the fat. It’s not a bad metaphor for many things.

Just when you think the caramel is never going to give up and you’ve mucked it and you need to start again, it will start to give in. It’s chemistry. When heat is applied to the sugar it has to eventually give up hope. So just keep plugging away, stirring slowly- possibly while checking twitter, or what kind of lovely comments have been posted on your first article on Mamamia at the same time.

Fig, chocolate and salted caramel cheesecake



Serves 6-8

Shopping/ Foraging

Note- if you prefer your biscuit base to be really thick, or to go all the way up the sides of the pan, double the ratios of the biscuit base.

Biscuit base
150 grams of blitzed biscuits ( I use a ratio of 2/3 out of chocolate coated digestive biscuits and 1/3 out of ginger nuts)
75 grams of  unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons of ground almonds (not necessary, but I like them)
1 teaspoon of salt

Caramel figs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
3/4 cup double cream
8 dried figs (if they were fresh figs the cake would be a little soggy I think)
1/2 cup sour cream

Cheesecake
800 grams of cream cheese (yes, it’s a lot).
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of plain flour

Here’s how we roll:

Make the biscuit base

1) Blitz the biscuits together in a blender until they’re rubble, or put them in a ziplock bag and take out your aggression on them with a rolling pin or something heavy.

2) Add the salt and ground almonds.
3) Melt the unsalted butter and then stir it into the biscuits, salt and almonds.
4) Press the rubble into the base of a springform pan and a little up the sides with the tips of your fingers.
5) Put the base in the fridge to harden while you make the caramel and the filling.

Making the cheesecake

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

1.Make a caramel by putting the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan over a lowish heat, swirling until it’s the colour of Giselle Bundchen’s hair. Careful- don’t touch- it will burn.

Half way through caramel making. Not the prettiest stage.

2. Take the sugar off the heat and add the cream- the sugar will sieze up. If you have a microwave then nuking the cream for 20 seconds, or heating it up on a separate pan until it’s luke warm will help prevent such a massive seizure. Return the sugar caramel and cream combination to a moderate heat and  stir it gently until it all melds happily together.

3.While this is happening Chop up the figs into little nuggets. After that, empty the dishwasher, put some music on, call a friend. But don’t walk away too far- it needs attention.  NB this stage can take a while- but it will eventually absorb back in.
4. When it’s a thick glossy caramel and all the sugar is dissolved take it off the heat. Add the tablespoon of salt to cut through the sugar.

5. Add the sour cream and stir it around. Then tumble in the diced figs.
6. Now get started on the bulk of the cheesecake. Mix the cream cheese and the sour cream together in a food processor or with a mixer. 
7. Beat in a teaspoon of vanilla essence and the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides.

8. Sift in the four tablespoons of plain flour. Stir well.
9. Fold the caramel and the figs together withe the creamy cheese mixture.
10. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the cake tin with the set biscuit base on top of it (this helps catch any sugar drips from the cake tin). Pour the filling on top of the base and smooth out the top.
11. Bake for 55 minutes, then turn the oven off and open the door a little and leave for 10 minutes. You still want it to have a slight wobble in the centre.

Put the cake in the fridge,  loosely covered, for about 4 hours. Remove side of pan and transfer cake to a plate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Eat and enjoy.

….And discover that the cheesecake eating tribe is divided into two warring clans. Those who like their cheesecakes flavoured, perhaps with salted caramel and figs and those who prefer theirs vanilla plain.

Guess which clan my spouse belongs to?  We live and learn.

NB- it didn’t stop him from eating a fair whack and loving it. Seems to a true cheesecake eater, there’s no such thing as a bad cheesecake.

Any other members of his cheesecake clan out there?