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Mini blackcurrant cheesecakes with a ginger coconut crust

by Jeanne Horak-Druiff
Mini blackcurrant cheesecakes with a ginger coconut crust

Mini blackcurrant cheesecakes with a ginger coconut crust

PT1H30M

Why not try?

Foraging is not an activity that comes naturally to me. Reading through the blogs, it seems that most lucky European food bloggers grew up practically learning foraging at their mother’s knee. Me? I learned fear at my mother’s knee! My parents took great delight in regaling me with stories of unfortunate friends-of-friends-of-friends who went mushroom picking and were found dead from some fungal neurotoxin the next day; or people who went camping and innocently made kebab skewers out of poisonous oleander twigs, who were found slumped, barely alive, around their campfire. It was enough to put a person off foraging for life. In fact, the only practical foraging information other than these dire warnings that I remember getting was from my parents’ old friend Bob who once told my brother and me: “berry red – go ahead; berry white – take fright” - which is hardly advice I’d stake my life on!

I still remember my stunned surprise when, during our first year in this country, we went on a boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads and coming across a bramble bush heaving under the weight of its blackberries during an evening walk along the towpath. At least, I was 99% sure they were blackberries, having never actually seen one outside of a supermarket punnet at that stage! I selected a plump, shiny one, picked it and very tentatively popped it in my mouth. To this day I’m not sure whether the lingering fear of found food heightened my senses; or whether it truly was the sweetest, juciest blackberry in all of England, but the seeds of a foraging future were planted in me that day: wild plums in our local park; blackberries under the power lines between the allotments; wild rocket from the verges near the Royal Docks; and wild cherries on my walk to the station.

Although it’s not strictly speaking wild foraging, I also recently had the chance (courtesy of our friends on the neighbouring allotment) to pick my own blackcurrants. Again, my knowledge of these extended roughly to the fact that they are what gives Ribena cordial and cassis liqueur their flavour, but that was as far as it went. Native to northern Europe and Asia, these shrubs have been cultivated for centuries to take advantage of various medicinal uses for the berries (in particular their high Vitamin C content). Similarly shaped but slightly smaller than blueberries, the blackcurrants grow in clusters on fine branches called strings. This makes them easy to pick as you can grab the entire string… but you pay for it later as the berries and strings have to be separated before cooking or eating.

You can try the raw berries, but they are very tart, so you are probably better off making them into some sort of dessert with added sweetness. They are the perfect candidates for jams and jellies though because of their high pectin content. The most common use is to cook the fruit with some sugar, crush, and pass through a sieve to create a thick juicy puree. This can then be added to ice-cream, yoghurt, semifreddo and cheesecakes - which is exactly what I did!

Rather than make a large cheesecake, I opted for four mini cheesecakes - but you will need mini loose-bottomed flan tins to do this. Alternatively, double the recipe and make one standard size cheesecake in a spring-form pan.

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

1
To make the topping (which can be made ahead of time), divide the blackcurrants in half. Place each batch in separate small saucepans and add 1 tablespoon of creme de cassis (or water) to each small saucepan
2
Bring to a gentle simmer and when the first berries start to show signs of collapse, remove the first saucepan from the heat and set aside. Continue to simmer the other one until all of the berries start breaking up and can easily be mashed with a fork
3
Place a sieve over a bowl and pass the second saucepan of cooked berries through the sieve, pressing down on the pulp with a spoon to extract all of the juice. Return the resulting juice to the saucepan and stir in the sugar
4
Mix the cornflour with a little water, stir the paste into the fruit purée and stir to mix. Simmer gently until the sauce starts to thicken a little, then stir in the reserved whole cooked berries. Chill until needed
Blackcurrant sauce
5
To make the base, crush the gingersnaps as finely as possible (I use a food processor but you can also place them in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin). Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and coconut
6
Grease the sides (but not the bottom) of four loose-bottomed mini flan tins (mine are about 8cm in diameter). Divide the ginger snap mix evenly among the flan tins and press down firmly with your fingers. Refrigerate for at least half an hour
7
Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3.5
8
In a clean bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the flour and mix thoroughly to avoid lumps; and finally stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and yoghurt
9
Pour the mixture over the prepared biscuit base in the flan tins, dividing it evenly between each tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes until puffed up and beginning to brown, then turn off the oven and allow to the cheesecakes to cool in the oven for at least 1 hour. Leave to cool on a baking rack until completely set
10
When completely cooled, carefully unmould each mini cheesecake and plate. Top with the prepared blackcurrant mix and serve
Blackcurrant cheesecake
 

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