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Fiona Cairns' strawberry, mint and balsamic cheesecake

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Strawberry, mint and balsamic cheesecake
Strawberry, mint and balsamic cheesecake
  • Serves: 10-12

  • Prep time:

    (plus overnight chilling)
  • Skill level: Easy peasy

  • Costs: Mid-price

Fiona Cairns, who runs her own bespoke handmade cake business, has shared her insider tips to creating the ultimate strawberry cheescake. The combination of balsamic vinegar, mint and strawberry in this recipe makes for a zesty and fresh flavour perfectly complimented by the cheese and crumbly biscuit base. Fiona first decided to add the unusual ingredient of balsamic vinegar to enhance the flavour of the strawberries and bring out the lighteness in this cheesecake recipe.

Ingredients

For the base 
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the tin
  • 300g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 10 large mint leaves, finely chopped

For the strawberry filling

  • 300g strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 10 large mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

For the cream cheese filling

  • 3 tsp gelatine crystals
  • 250g unsalted cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 45g golden caster sugar

To decorate
  • 150200g strawberries
  • Few sprigs of mint

Strawberries are best when they're in season - check out our seasonal food calendar to see what's in season when

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/fan 160C/340F/Gas Mark 3 1/2.
  2. Butter very well the base and sides of a 23cm diameter, 7.5cm deep, round springform tin, making sure the flat side of the springform base is uppermost (the lipped side makes it hard to remove the cheesecake).
  3. Put the biscuits in a polythene bag, seal, then bash with a rolling pin until very fine. Tip into a bowl and mix in the butter and mint. Lightly press into the tin with a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes, then leave to cool.
  4. For the strawberry filling, simply mix everything together in a bowl and leave for 12 hours for the strawberries to absorb the flavours. Drain the strawberries, reserving all the delicious juices.
  5. For the cream cheese filling, place 3 tbsp cold water into a small, wide-bottomed heatproof bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Every single crystal must be wet, or it will turn to lumps later on. Set the bowl over a pan of hot (not boiling) water until every crystal has melted. Don't let it get too hot or it won't set properly.
  6. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. In another bowl, lightly whip the cream and vanilla. Using an electric mixer (or handheld whisk), whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and doubled in volume. Carefully fold in the cream cheese, then the cream. Take the strawberry juices and mix them into the gelatin liquid, sieve out any lumps, then fold in a spoonful of the cream mixture. Once well blended, gently fold in the remaining cream.
  7. Spread the marinated strawberries over the centre of the biscuit base, ensuring they do not reach the edges. Spoon on the cream, level the surface and place in the refrigerator overnight to set.
  8. When you are ready to serve, dip a knife into hot water, release the spring and run the knife around the edge of the tin. Ease off the base with a warm palette knife and transfer to a serving dish. Finally, decorate with the sliced strawberries and mint sprigs.

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