I spied a few punnets of bright green gooseberries sitting at one end of a local farm stall a few days ago. First of the season – I wasn’t expecting to see them yet – and didn’t need convincing to take a punnet home. I wanted to try teaming them with an elderflower cordial we’d made recently, so came up with this simple, summery-tasting cheesecake. The sweet, perfumed flavour of elderflower perfectly compliments the tart gooseberries, which soften in colour, texture and taste when gently stewed.
As you’ll see from the ingredients, this makes a small cheesecake, as I didn’t want us to have a huge one hanging around! We both enjoyed the taste of the ricotta in the filling, but I did find it made a slightly softer filling than one made with, say, mascarpone – not sloppy, just not as firmly set – so although it’s just speculation (as we polished this off all in one day), I’d suspect that keeping it in the fridge overnight might make the base a little soggy. The other heads up is that gooseberries are high in pectin – something to bear in mind when making the syrup, as if you reduce it too much you’ll probably end up with something not looking too far off a jellyfish!
120g gingernut biscuits
100g cream cheese
10g icing sugar
About 200ml elderflower cordial (or to taste)
Zest of 1 large lemon
Begin by lining your chosen (small) dish with a double layer of clingfilm, making sure enough drapes over the sides to act as handles to lift the cheesecake out once set.
Break up the biscuits into chunks, then pulse in a food processor until ground (not too fine.) Melt the butter, then stir into the biscuits. Once the butter is completely combined, spoon the mixture into your dish, and gently pat down to level out the surface. Chill in the fridge.
Meanwhile, make the gooseberry compote. Top and tail the gooseberries, then throw them in the pan you melted the butter in, along with the elderflower cordial. Simmer for about ten minutes, until the fruit has softened (too long and it will all turn into a mush – I prefer some of the berries to retain a bit of shape.) Pour into a sieve to strain the liquid off – catch it in a bowl, then set the fruit aside, and return the liquid to the pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about five minutes or so to reduce the syrup. Set aside to cool.
Next, put the ricotta, cream cheese, and most of the lemon zest (reserve a little to sprinkle over the finished cheesecake) into a large mixing bowl. Sift in the icing sugar, then mix well with a spatula until completely combined and smooth. Spoon over the biscuit base, then level out with a palette knife. Chill, along with the gooseberries and the syrup, for at least four hours.
When ready to serve, gently lift the cheesecake out of the dish by grabbing hold of the cling film. It should be pretty easy to transfer it to a serving plate. Spoon over the fruit, sprinkle with lemon zest, and drizzle with syrup. Enjoy!