If you’re eating dinner at my house mid week- there’s every chance you’ll be facing this for dessert.


I’d like to introduce you to my emergency, DIY, deconstructed cheesecakes.

These came from a day when I had every intention of making a berry cheesecake to crown a meal. 

There was Philadelphia in the fridge and ginger nuts squatting on the bench. There was sugar in the cupboard. There were even plenty of fresh berries.

What was lacking was the organisation or inclination. It wasn’t a great day.  It just didn’t happen.

So I did what you can do when great friends pop around for dinner.

I said ‘bugger it’.

We ate pasta with roast tomato sauce and makeshift meatballs born from sausages that had been slipped of their skins. We drank plenty of red wine. We talked about new jobs and old friends.
And then it was time for dessert. Before I got around to confessing to the cheesecake that wasn’t, I had a quiet brainwave.

While the others kept talking at the table I stealthily pulled out the ginger nuts. I reached for the berries. And I created a sly little mixture of powdered icing sugar and cream cheese- from memory the ratio was 1 part icing sugar to 2 parts cream cheese.

Out it all went on a platter in the middle of the table. Next to that was a teaspoon for each of us.

I realised that all of the essential elements for a cheesecake experience were still there.

There were biscuits for a base- my favourite cheesecakes have ground up ginger nut biscuits at the bottom. The allure comes from the gentle warmth of the spice, rubbing up against the cream and fat of the filling.

There was cheese with a dash of sugar -I like my cheesecakes sweet, but not too sweet.

And there was the freshness from the fruit- I like my toppings to be jolly and fresh, not jellied and set like cheap face masks.

This is one of those desserts that works well for people who talk with their hands or a crowd. While everyone’s still gabbing about, you can reach over and take a cookie. You then spread it with a heaped teaspoon of sweetened cream cheese. Then you choose your berries and dot them over the top.

Ever since their first dinner party debut they have made special appearances at an embarrassment of mid-week suppers.

Sometimes they’re topped with strawberries that have been soused in Cointreau. Othert imes there are shards of quickly toasted hazelnuts or cherries from a jar.

And sometimes, if a day is going a little pear shaped, they make a cameo.

It’s usually around 3pm. If there’s no fresh fruit in the flat, but there’s me, cookies and some soft cheese in a tub then two of them get topped with lime zest and scoffed while I nurse a cup of tea and practice a little deep breathing.

It’s a quick salve. It heals most things.

So with that in mind, I think there needs to be a new sticker put on the pack of ginger nuts in the cupboard. And I think it should read ‘break in case of emergency’.

Look out for emergency cheesecakes coming soon to a crisis near you.

Emergency deconstructed cheesecakes

Here’s how we roll

Equipment
Teaspoons

Shopping/foraging


2-3 ginger nut cookies per person
1 heaped tablespoon of cream cheese per person
1 heaped teaspoon of powdered sugar per person
Fresh berries, or the zest of lemon or lime.

Here’s how we roll
1) Mix the cream cheese with the powdered sugar

2) Top each ginger nut cookie with 1 teaspoon of sweetened cream cheese

3) Top each ‘cheesecake’ with fresh berries, or citrus zest.

4) Eat.