Baked Wigmore Cheesecake

Not an original VMC recipe, but original nonetheless; this is a beautifully sweet, tangy and creamy cheesecake by Great British Chef, Adam Byatt, using Wigmore cheese. We stumbled across this a while back on the GB Chefs website and, at first, were quite surprised that Wigmore had been used in a sweet recipe. The delicate nuttiness of the cheese works really, really well and I can honestly say that it’s the best recipe I’ve used for a baked cheesecake. And, despite the amount of eggs and cheese used, it’s surprisingly light! Adam serves his version with a pear sorbet & pear chutney, although we enjoyed ours with salted pecan brittle and raspberries.

Makes one very large cheesecake (be warned! You’ll need a deep 20cm springfrom baking tin for this one. And a big food processor).

Cheesecake base:
220g digestive biscuits
50g ginger nut biscuits
125g butter, unsalted
A good pinch of salt (we like flaked sea salt for the crunch)

First, make your base. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Once it’s liquified, keep swirling it on the heat until it turns golden brown in colour and there are brown speckles on the bottom of the pan – browning the butter like this will add depth to the flavour of your base and give it a lovely buttery, nutty and almost caramel flavour. You’ll be able to smell it when it’s ready.

As soon as your butter has started to brown, set aside to cool a little while you blend your biscuits.

You can use a blender to blitz the biscuits into crumbs or do it the old fashioned way (biscuits in a tea towel, bash with a rolling pin). Add the pinch of salt, this will balance out the sweetness of the biscuit base and cheese filling.

Put the melted butter and biscuit crumbs into a bowl and mix to combine. Press this all into the base of a springform tin with your hands or the back of a spoon and pop into the fridge to set for 1 hour.

Cheesecake filling:
375g Wigmore cheese (or 1 x whole Baby Wigmore)
350g white chocolate
2 vanilla pods, seeds scraped
375g cream cheese
120g golden caster sugar
5 eggs
450g creme fraiche
Pinch of salt
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

While your base is setting in the fridge, preheat your oven to 130 degrees celcius.

Melt the white chocolate in a bain marie over a gentle heat, being careful that the bowl doesn’t touch the water underneath – this will cause the chocolate to burn. Set aside to cool slightly.

Blend the rest of the cheesecake ingredients together, then stir in the melted white chocolate until everything is fully incorporated.

Remove your cheesecake base from the fridge and pour the mixture over the top, give it a shake to ensure it has evened out.

Place the tin in the middle of the oven for 50 – 60 minutes, or until it is almost set but still slightly wobbly in the centre. The top of the cheesecake should have turned a light golden colour.

Don’t be tempted to open the oven door before the 50 minute mark, or your cheesecake will crack!

Once your cheesecake is baked, turn the oven off and leave it in there with the door ajar for a couple of hours until it has cooled. Refrigerate overnight.

Salted pecan brittle topping:
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp water
150g pecans
Sea salt

This only takes around 25 minutes to do, so make this after the cheesecake has come out of the oven or anytime before you want to serve it up.

On a baking tray, put your pecans into a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 10 minutes or so to toast. Remove and set aside, prepare a sheet of parchment paper, ready for the pecan brittle to be poured onto later.

Put the sugar into a nonstick pan before turning onto a medium heat, then pour in the water without stirring. The sugar cooks and starts to change colour quite fast, so keep an eye on it to avoid burning.

As soon as the water has evaporated and the sugar has began to turn golden brown, pour your pecans and a generous sprinkle of sea salt into the pan and swirl. As soon as the pecans are coated in the caramel, pour it all out onto the parchment paper and leave to set.

Once it’s cooled and set (20 minutes or so), crack your praline into chunks using a pestle and mortar or a rolling pin, and scatter on top of your baked cheesecake to serve.

Variations to try next time below, if you like.

Lemon cheesecake:
Follow the recipe as above, but add the zest and juice of 2 lemons to the filling. Omit the salted pecan brittle topping, and top with dollops of homemade lemon passionfruit curd, a sprinkle of toasted dessicated coconut and toasted caramelised almonds. Of course, all toppings are optional! You can keep it simple with the curd on it’s own.

Banoffee cheesecake:
Switch your digestive biscuits for chocolate digestives in the base (keep the ginger nuts in there) and make as above.

Put 2 tins of unopened sweetened condensed milk into a pan of water so they are completely covered, then bring to a gentle boil for 4 hours. Once cooled, you should open the tins to find thick, gooey caramel. Empty contents into a bowl and add 4 tsp of sea salt (or to taste) to make the salted dulce de leche.

Spread the homemade salted dulce de leche onto the chilled biscuit base, reserving some for the topping. Add a generous layer of sliced bananas (4 x ripe bananas should be enough) to completely cover the caramel. Pour the cheesecake filling mixture over the banana-caramel-biscuit base and bake as above. Once baked, cooled and refrigerated, top the cheesecake with more slices of banana around the outside, a drizzle of salted dulce de leche, and a drizzle of melted dark chocolate. Very decadent, but delicious.