How the British do cheesecake
The dominating flavor in this dessert is lime. Clean, bright, refreshing lime. In order to bring such a clean release of flavor to a dessert that is often intentionally (and delightfully) overly rich, this cheesecake leaves out all the eggs, and much of the sugar. Cream cheese is paddled with creme fraiche and sugar, and dosed with fresh squeezed lime juice and zest. When this mixture is smooth it is folded with whipped cream and set in molds.
Ramsey set his cheesecake over a graham cracker crust in molds lined with poached rhubarb. With the first of season rhubarb cropping up in stores, this cheesecake is a tempting reason to purchase it.
But as this has been on the menu for 3 weeks now and rhubarb is barely available, I have been serving this lime cheesecake filling differently. First, I about doubled the cream cheese to pronounce the classic cheesecake flavor and increased the lime juice to my liking. I have set the filling atop a crushed gingersnap crust, laced with citrus zest and honey. Aside the individual cheesecakes are sunny-sweet, fragrant candied kumquats and tiny gingersnaps.
As for the molds, I am using an old trick I first saw in culinary school. Instead of purchasing 50 somewhat expensive ring molds, I had a length of PVC pipe cut into 2 inch cross sections at the hard ware store. These molds have to be lined with strips of parchment or acetate as there is no way to release the contents by heating the outside. And these molds must NEVER go in the oven as they release noxious fumes and would turn what ever is in them into cancer cakes. But the cost was under 20 dollars for a total of 50 molds. You do have to find a hard ware store willing to make 50 cuts on their saw for you. Home Depot did it once, but the next time they told me I was limited to 2 cuts per visit.
2 cups crushed gingersnaps
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup cream fraiche
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 2 limes
2 to 4 tbsp of lime juice, to taste
1 cup cream (kept very cold to whip)
6 4-inch ring molds or an 8 inch spring form pan lined with parchment
1. Melt the butter with the honey and zests slowly. It shouldn't sizzle or heat up so the milk solids separate and cook. Let cool slightly and pour over the gingersnaps. Mix evenly with your hands, breaking up any clumps. It's best to add the butter in batches. Depending on the moisture already in the cookie, you may or may not need all the melted butter (and you may need more)
2. Distribute the crumbs evenly between the ring molds or over the bottom of the parchment lined spring form pan. Press with your hands or the smooth bottom of a glass and chill.
3. Beat the cream cheese until smooth and even (about 30 seconds to 1 minute on medium speed in a kitchen aid). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. Add the sugar and mix on medium for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Add the creme fraiche and mix until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
6. Add the lime zest and juice and mix on medium until the mixture is even and it begins to stiffen a bit.
7. Scrape the sides of the bowl so the mixture is in a mass. Place plastic wrap directly over the surface and store in the refrigerator while you whip the cream. Do not leave this for too long or it will set up stiff. You are just keeping it here to stay cool while you whip the cream.
8. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until just barely mixed. Fold in the remainder of whipped cream until the mixture is even.
9. Pipe or spoon the mixture into the prepared molds or cake pan. Smooth the tops with the back of a warm spoon or an off-set palate knife. Chill for 4 hours or over night.
To unmold, warm the sides of the molds or springform pan. You can do this with your blowtorch, or with a towel that has been wet with hot water and rung out.
Alternately for the crust you can also use graham cracker crumbs mixed with pinches of cinnamon, ginger, and clove to mimic the flavors in a gingersnap. Reduce the honey to 1 1/2 tbsp and add a hint of molasses.
I like to zest the limes directly over the sugar. This captures all the oils that spray out while zesting. Then I mix the zest into the sugar with my fingers which breaks it up evenly assuring there are no clumps of zest in the finished dessert.
3 cups of kumquats, washed and sliced
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil.
2. Add the kumquats and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes, undisturbed.
3. Push the kumquats back under the syrup gently, letting the bottom come to the top, and vice versa. Cook for 5 minute more.
4. Check for doneness, which will differ depending on the thickness of your slices. The skins should be translucent and it should have lost much of it's acidity. It will continue to candy away from the stove while it cools and is stored in the syrup.
5. Let cool at room temperature. Store the kumquats in their syrup, which is delicious drizzled over the plate (and mixed with a little bubbly water like a cordial.... me thinks even a granita could come from this syrup with some water adjustment)
The Kumpuat recipe isn't exact. The measures I give are guidelines. To put is as simply as possible, use a nice bowl full of kumquats, sliced up all pretty like, and a syrup in a ratio of 2 parts sugar to 1 part water.