Michelle Darmody: Making great cheesecake

Cheesecakes can either be baked or refrigerated to set the topping. 

The biscuit base is topped with either a cream cheese, mascarpone or a ricotta mixture depending on what country your recipe originated in. 

I grew up with the refrigerated kind, generally made with the addition of gelatin.

The first time I tasted a baked cheesecake was while working in an Italian bakery on the east coast of America.

 Like most desserts in the United States the cakes were huge and the slices were served in big, thick wedges.

 The bakery made a vast range of these baked cheesecakes; key-lime pie flavour, peanut butter cup cheesecake and even a very colourful M&M topped cake. 

I took inspiration from their peanut butter cup creation and developed a baked peanut butter cheesecake, which is included here. 

I have never tried to recreate the M&M one! As with a lot of much-loved desserts the origin of cheesecake is hotly contested. 

British bakers claim it to be English as there is a handwritten scroll from the 14th century that has a recipe for a very similar cake of two layers made with fresh cheese. 

However there are other mentions of a cake made with cheese and honey dating back to Ancient Greece.

Baked Peanut Butter Cheesecake

For the base:

80g of butter

110g of digestive biscuits, finely crushed

100g of chocolate digestive biscuits, finely crushed

For the topping:

500g of cream cheese

3 eggs and 3 extra egg yolks

180g of caster sugar

120g of creme fraiche

250g of crunchy peanut butter

Line a round 9 inch spring form tin with parchment and preheat your oven to 170 degrees.

Melt the butter in a heavy base saucepan large enough to accommodate all of the crushed biscuits. Once the butter has melted stir in the biscuits until coated. Press the mixture into the base of the tin. Place into the fridge to set.

Put all of the ingredients for the topping into a mixer and beat until well combined. When the base is completely cold spread the topping onto it. Bake for an hour and 10 minutes until the top is golden and set. Allow to cool in the tin and then gently remove.

Cherry Compote and Vanilla Cheesecake

For the base:

110g of butter

260g of digestive biscuits, finely crushed

For the topping:

600g of cream cheese

2 vanilla pods, slit down the centre and the sticky black center scraped out, discard the pods

90g of icing sugar

the zest of 2 oranges

280 mls of cream, whipped to stiff peaks

For the cherry compote:

300g of cherries, stones removed

100g of golden caster sugar

1/2 tbs of honey

2 tbs of brandy

Line a 9 inch round spring form tin with parchment.

Melt the butter in a heavy base saucepan and then stir in the crushed biscuits. Stir well and then scoop the mixture into the prepared tin. Press down to form the base and then place into the fridge to cool completely.

Put all of the ingredients for the topping, except the whipped cream, into a mixer and beat until well combined. Fold in the whipped cream. When the base is completely cold spread the topping onto it an flatten it out. Place back into the fridge to firm up. Place all of the compote ingredients into a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer without a lid for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Once the cheesecake has completely set and the compote is cold remove the cake gently from the tin and place onto a large plate. Pour the compote over it just before serving.

Blueberry No-Bake Cheesecake

For the base:

100g of butter

300g of ginger-nut biscuits, finely crushed

For the topping:

3 sheets of gelatin

350g of cream cheese

240mls of cream

190g of caster sugar

300g of blueberries, mashed with a fork

1 tbs of lemon juice and the zest of 1 lemon

Line a 9 inch round spring form tin with parchment.

Melt the butter in a heavy base saucepan and then stir in the crushed biscuits. Stir well and then scoop the mixture into the prepared tin. Press down to form the base and then place into the fridge to cool completely.

Pour enough boiled water over the gelatin leaves to cover them, about 60mls, and set aside to allow the gelatin to dissolve.

Whisk the rest of the ingredients for the topping with a balloon attachment. Once the gelatin is completely dissolved turn the mixer onto a low setting and whisk it into the other ingredients making sure it completely mixes in.

Scoop the mixture onto the base and spread it around to flatten it on top. Place into the fridge to chill for at least three hours. Decorate as you wish before serving. I like to top it with some extra berries and edible flowers.


More in this Section

Making Cents: Planning for your financial future

Dive right in for Christmas swim in aid of a good cause

In the frame during a big year for comics

Musical theatre review: Les Miserables


Latest Showbiz

Council backs Robbie Williams’ swimming pool plan despite Jimmy Page’s objection

US actress and director Penny Marshall dies aged 75

Picture This to play surprise gig in Dublin tonight

Fearne Cotton leaving Celebrity Juice to focus on other projects

More From The Irish Examiner