This is a festive cheesecake which would make a perfect alternative pudding on Christmas Day or indeed for any celebration. A cheesecake needs an overnight rest in the fridge so allow yourself 24 hours to complete the pudding. I had contemplated adding a billowing duvet of whipped cream but opted for (relative) moderation but there is nothing to stop you either covering the top of the cheesecake with cream before adorning with meringues and chocolate, or serving the cheesecake with a bowl of whipped cream-à la mode. You could make the meringues and chocolate shards three or four days in advance if you wanted to get them out of the way-just remember to keep the egg yolks for the cheesecake.
- 185g Lotus Biscoff biscuits, crushed
- 60g unsalted butter, melted
- 2 x 340g packs Philadelphia soft cheese
- 2 x 250g tins sweetened chestnut purée
- 100g sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 medium eggs
- 1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
- For the meringue
- 140g caster sugar
- 100g plain chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, broken into small pieces
- Base-line a 22cm springform cake tin with a disc of non-stick baking parchment. Put the biscuits in a food processor and blend to fine crumbs. Stir in the melted butter and blend for a few seconds to thoroughly coat the crumbs in butter. Tip into the tin and spread the crumbs out to the edges and press down in an even layer. Chill for one hour.
- Heat the oven to fan 150°c, mark 2. Put the cream cheese, chestnut purée and sour cream in a mixing bowl and beat together until smooth. Add the vanilla extract, 3 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks-reserving the egg whites to make the meringues later. Beat in the cornflour gently. Spoon the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base and spread out. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the cheesecake feels firm on the outside but still has a distinct wobble in the centre. Turn the oven off and open the door ajar. Leave the cheesecake for one hour then remove from the oven and leave until cold. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
- To make the meringues, heat the oven to fan 120°c, mark 1. Line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment or silicone. Weigh the egg whites and then place in a mixing bowl. Measure out double the weight of the egg whites in caster sugar-my egg whites weighed 70g so I measured out 140g caster sugar. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks then, a tablespoon at a time, beat in the caster sugar. Continue to beat the meringue for about 4-5 minutes until glossy and stiff.
- Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and pipe out little meringues onto the baking sheet. Cook in the oven for one hour then turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool in the oven. Lift off and store in an airtight container.
- To make the chocolate shards, melt the chocolate in short bursts in a microwave or melt in a bowl placed over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave to cool for a few minutes then spread the chocolate in a thin layer over a clean work surface or marble slab. When the chocolate has set but is not completely hard, drag a knife held at 45° angle across the chocolate towards you to form curls and shards of chocolate. Carefully put the chocolate decoration on a small plate and chill until ready to use.
- To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake and release the sides of the tin. Lift the cheesecake onto a serving plate. Place the meringues over the cheesecake and scatter the chocolate shards generously over everything. Serve within one hour.