Michelle Darmody: Three ways to try cheesecake

Baked and no-bake cheesecakes have quite different textures, the addition of eggs and some flour change the consistency of the baked version.
Michelle Darmody: Three ways to try cheesecake
Mixed berry baked cheesecake
When I was growing up cheesecake was always served cold and was usually lemon or vanilla. Picture: Denis Scannell
When I was growing up cheesecake was always served cold and was usually lemon or vanilla. Picture: Denis Scannell

Baked and no-bake cheesecakes have quite different textures, the addition of eggs and some flour change the consistency of the baked version.

While no-bake recipes are handy in the warmer summer months a baked cheesecake is a nice alternative.

When I was growing up cheesecake was always served cold and was usually lemon or vanilla.

Tasting a baked variation on a trip to the United States, as a young adult, was a revelation.

Although I found some American baking a little too sweet, and the addition of crazy-colour laden ingredients such as sprinkles and candy sweets are a bit of a distraction, the premise of a baked cheesecake was great.

While no-bake cheesecakes are light and airy the baked ones are very dense and velvety.

For either version it is better to have your cream cheese at room temperature.

If you whip it while cold it is more likely to result in little lumps. Also a spring form tin is ideal.

You will need to be gentle when removing the ring from around the sides once your cake has set or is baked.

For the baked recipe it is recommended to leave the cake in the oven after you turn it off.

Leaving it in the oven, to cool very gradually, will help prevent excessive cracking and will also allow it to firm up slowly.

There is plenty of opportunity to decorate your cheesecake as elaborately as you wish.

The smooth shiny surface is an ideal canvas.

Mixed berry baked cheesecake 

280g of digestives, finely crushed

170g of butter, melted

900g of cream cheese, at room temperature

3 tbs of plain flour, sieved

170g of golden caster sugar

3 eggs and 1 extra egg yolk

30g of raspberries, crushed

30g of blueberries, crushed

200 mls of sour cream

To decorate

A selection of colourful fruit and dried berries

Mixed berry baked cheesecake
Mixed berry baked cheesecake

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees and line a 9 inch round spring form tin with parchment.

Stir the crushed biscuit into the melted butter and combine. Press them down into the prepared tin and flatten the surface.

Bake for ten minutes and set aside.

Turn your oven up to 200 degrees.

Whisk the cream cheese, flour and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and yolk one at a time until combined.

Slowly mix in the crushed fruit and sour cream until everything is combined.

Scoop the mixture on top of your base and smooth it out. You can tap the tin very gently on a work surface to get out any air.

Bake for ten minutes and then turn your oven way down to 90 degrees and bake for a further 50 minutes.

Turn off the oven and allow the cake to sit there cooling for at least a further hour.

This will help prevent the top cracking too much and also allow it to firm up.

Decorate with a selection of fresh and dried fruit.

Chocolate and lime cheesecake 

250g of dark chocolate digestives, finely crushed

100g of butter, melted

600g of cream cheese, at room temperature

The zest of 6 limes

90g of icing sugar, sieved

270 mls of cream

To decorate

The zest of 2 limes

Curled 50g of dark chocolate curled

Picture: Larry Cummins
Picture: Larry Cummins

Line a 9 inch round spring form tin with parchment.

Stir the crushed biscuit crumbs into the melted butter and combine.

Press the mixture down into the prepared tin and flatten the surface. Place into your fridge for at least an hour.

Whisk the cream cheese, zest, sugar and cream until smooth.

Scoop the mixture on top of your base and smooth it out.

Place into the fridge for at least four hours.

Curl the zest and chocolate and sprinkle onto the cake before serving. Serve chilled.

Mini strawberry cheesecake tartlets 

375g of gingernut biscuits, finely crushed

150g of butter, melted

600g of cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tsp of vanilla extract

The zest of 1 lemon

100g of icing sugar, sieved

260 mls of sour cream

To decorate

About 16 strawberries, halved

Strawberry tarts with custard, delicious holiday fruit dessert over light gray background
Strawberry tarts with custard, delicious holiday fruit dessert over light gray background

Line the base of 4 loose based mini tart cases and butter the edges.

Combine the crushed biscuits and the melted butter and press them into the tart cases making sure the mixture goes up the sides to make a well in the centre.

Place into the fridge for at least an hour to firm up.

Whisk the cream cheese, vanilla, lemon zest and icing sugar until smooth.

Add in the sour cream and continue whisking.

Fill the tart cases with the cream cheese mixture and place back into the fridge for about an hour.

Gently ease the tartlets out of their cases.

Decorate with the sliced strawberries just before serving.

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