sour cherry cheesecake - 5 days of Christmas

Welcome to the final day of the 5 Days of Christmas 2014. I know I've made a lot of cheesecakes this year but this one is a special one just for Christmas. About a year ago I featured pictures of a Sour Cherry Cheesecake on the blog but I wasn't happy with the end result and promised I’d work on the recipe before sharing it with you. It's taken a year but here it is.

The cheesecake I made last year tasted fine but it didn’t look so special. If you notice, there have been a few crumble topped cheesecakes during the year as I've been working on perfecting ‘the look’. In the end I came up with a cheesecake topped with a nutty crumble, a dusting of icing sugar and a bit of cream to hold the whole thing together! There were plans for it to be crowned with fresh cherries but in the end I decided to go with something a little more simple and achievable for those people not blessed with cherries at this time of year.

I like to use a mixture of soft white cheese for this cheesecake but you don't have to. You could use all farm cottage cheese or all cream cheese or even well drained ricotta cheese if you like. I grew up making a European cheese cake where we always separated the eggs so I like the soft texture produced by folding in the beaten egg whites at the end. If the whole egg separating business is too much for you, just whizz all the filling ingredients in a food processor, apart from the cherries of course and the end result will still be lovely.

For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon and 60 gm eggs. The quantities listed will make a 16 cm (6½ inch) cake but if you want to make a 23 cm (9 inch) cheesecake, just double all the ingredients and bake for the same length of time. I'm not keen on over sweet desserts, so the quantity of sugar is a suggestion. Please taste as you go and add sugar to taste.

Here’s the recipe for you -

Sour Cherry Cheesecake
110 grams (4 oz) unsalted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
¼ cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour

Crumble Topping
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tbl brown sugar
60g (2 oz) pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

To make the crumble, line a baking tray with baking paper. For the cheesecake, grease, flour and line the base of a 16 cm spring-form tin with baking paper.

In a food processor, combine the butter, vanilla and caster sugar until softened. Add the flour and vanilla and process until a soft dough forms around the blade. Take out half the mixture and gently knead in the cinnamon, the brown sugar and chopped nuts and chill the mixture for an hour. This will form the crumble. Press the remaining mixture into the base of the greased spring-form tin, bringing it slightly up the sides.

Preheat the oven to 180⁰C.

Bake the shortbread base in the preheated 180⁰C oven for 20 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Set to one side and allow the base to cool.

Coarsely scatter the crumble mix over the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden. You can do this at the same time the cheesecake base is cooking. Allow the crumble topping to cool on a tray. When cool place in an airtight container until serving time. You won't need all the crumble for this recipe so store in an airtight container to use later.

250g (8 oz) cream cheese
125 g (4 oz) farm style dry cottage cheese
⅓ - ½ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tsp plain flour
⅓ cup cream or sour cream
2 eggs, separated
⅓ cup halved drained, pitted sour cherries
additional 2 tble caster sugar

Lower the oven temperature to 160⁰C.

Process the cheeses with the sugar and vanilla and flour in a food processor and whiz until smooth.

Add the egg yolks and the sour cream and again process until the mixture is smooth. Pour the filling into a medium sized bowl and add the cherries and gently fold through the cheesecake mixture.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar to form a meringue then mix in a few tablespoons of the egg white into the cheesecake mixture to lighten. Carefully fold through the remaining egg whites until well combined. Test for sweetness and add a little extra sugar if needed. Pour the filling over the cooled base.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour until the filling is almost set. Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the turned off oven. Remove the cake from the oven after 1 hour. When cool, the cheesecake can be stored in the fridge.

To serve
1 cup sour cream, whipped cream or double cream
Crumble topping
Icing sugar

Bring the cheesecake to room temperature. Spread the cream over the top of the cooled cheesecake leaving a 1-2 cm rim. Sprinkle the icing sugar over the edges of the cheesecake. Lavishly sprinkle the crumble topping over the cream and dust with a little more icing sugar if you like.

Serves 8

I just love this flavour combination. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do.

Following a 12 hour drive, I'm currently in Brisbane for the Christmas break. It's been a long year; I'm tired and I have a bedroom to paint when I return to Sydney so I'm planning to take a 2-3 week break from blogging.

I might drop by next week to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year but for now I have a batch of mince pies to make.

See you all again soon,


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