Chocolate Chip Cherry Cheesecake
(serves 6-8 people, loosely based on this cherry cheesecake recipe by Nigella Lawson)
2 cups (about 200g) of crushed disgestives biscuits (or graham crackers)
1 tbsp sugar
60g (about 4 tbsp) butter, melted
150g cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted and diced
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) + 2 tsp cold water
150g finely chopped dark chocolate, or 3/4 cup mini dark choc chips (I blitzed my chocolate in the food processor to make the pieces really tiny)
300g cream cheese, softened
60g (about 1/2 cup) icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
250ml thickened cream
(Very optional) chocolate ganache:
100ml pouring cream (min 35% fat pure unthickened cream)
150g dark chocolate
Fresh cherries to decorate
Note: I found that this ganache was too rich and overwhelming for the rest of the dessert, you can definitely skip it, or replace it with a layer of cherry jam or make another batch of the cherry filling above.
For the crust; preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Grease a 10x30cm rectangular loaf tin (or a 21cm springform tin). Line the base and two long sides of the loaf tin with baking paper leaving some extra baking paper hanging over the edges, this will make it easier to lift the cheesecake out of the tin later. Mix crushed biscuits and 1 tbsp sugar together in a medium bowl. Add butter and stir until well combined. Using your hands, spread mixture out in an even layer, then use your fingertips to press crumb mixture into bottom of tin to form an even crust. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until crust is set and golden in places, 15–20 minutes. Set crust aside until cool.
Place chopped cherries, lemon juice and 1 tbsp sugar in a small saucepan and place on medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the cornflour mixture to the saucepan and stir over heat until mixture starts to thicken, then set aside to cool. Prepare the cheesecake filling; Place cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the finely chopped chocolate and beat until it is evenly distributed. Stir cherry mixture into the mixing bowl until combined. In a separate mixing bowl, carefully beat the cream to stiff peaks (keep a close eye on this as the thickened cream is easy to overbeat). Fold cream into the rest of the mixture and then pour over the cooled crust. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight. Lift out of the tray using the baking paper flaps and peel away from the sides, you can run a knife under hot water and then use it to slice a thin layer of the sides to make it look neater.
If you decide to do the chocolate ganache on top, place cream in a small saucepan on medium heat until it just comes to the boil. Chop up chocolate and place in a mixing bowl and pour the hot cream over, leaving for 5 mins to let the chocolate melt. Whisk mixture together until smooth and pour a very thin layer over the top of the cheesecake. Top with fresh cherries and chill for another hour before serving.