White Chocolate and Ginger Cheesecake, Ginger Brittle and Rhubarb
White Chocolate and Ginger Cheesecake, Ginger Brittle and Rhubarb

White Chocolate and Ginger Cheesecake, Ginger Brittle and Rhubarb

  • Prep time:

  • Cook time:

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  • Portion/Yield:

    Serves 8
  • Difficulty:

    Experienced

The outdoor rhubarb season is now in full swing and Piers from High House Farm in Suffolk is supplying us with the most glorious rhubarb. We have worked hard this season to build our ever-growing rhubarb recipe collection, as well as enjoying some of our old favourites.

Rhubarb is such an easy vegetable to work with and it pairs beautifully with many other ingredients. This combination of a white chocolate and ginger cheesecake served with poached rhubarb works wonderfully well. The cheesecake is a gelatine-set chilled cheesecake rather than a baked one. By making an Italian meringue before adding the soft cheese and leaving it to rest, makes this cheesecake light and mousse-like instead of dense and heavy-set. I have not lined the rings with a biscuit base as you might expect. Instead, I make ginger brittle biscuits separately and break them into shards, then un-mould each individual cheesecake and sandwich a ginger brittle shard at each end. Not only does this create an appealing textural contrast, it also looks amazing and is very different to many cheesecake recipes.

The rhubarb that’s served with the cheesecake is simply poached, then half of the poached rhubarb is made into little rhubarb pearls that are ever so easy to create. You do not need any fancy ingredients for this, apart from the usual storecupboard items and a syringe that you can buy from the pharmacy. I use a large one with a wide spout. To make these pearls, you need a tasteless oil such as groundnut oil or sunflower oil. Let the oil cool in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight – it will not freeze, it just becomes super cold. Then use half of the poached rhubarb to make a purée and add gelatine. Using the syringe, drop the purée into the very cold oil, which will suspend each droplet – the chill will then set the gelatine. How clever is that?! Once they are set, retrieve the rhubarb pearls using a spoon and drain them on kitchen paper before using. These pearls will not have a liquid centre, they will be set all the way through. For a liquid centre, chemicals are required and that then becomes a bit tricky and more technical. This method is simple and easy.

photo of White Chocolate and Ginger Cheesecake, Ginger Brittle and Rhubarb

Ingredients & Method

For the white chocolate and ginger cheesecakes

  • 300g full-fat soft cheese (such as Philadelphia)
  • 180ml whipping cream
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 50ml cold water
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 leaves of gelatine, bloomed (softened in cold water, then squeezed gently to remove excess water)
  • 200g white chocolate, melted
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced preserved stem ginger

For the ginger brittle biscuits

  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 120g liquid glucose
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger

For the poached rhubarb

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150ml water
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 tablespoon grated (peeled) fresh root ginger
  • 350g rhubarb, cut into 4cm x 5mm batons

For the rhubarb pearls

  • 500ml groundnut or sunflower oil
  • 150g poached rhubarb (from above), plus 50ml of the poaching syrup
  • 2 leaves of gelatine, bloomed (softened in cold water, then squeezed gently to remove excess water)

First make the cheesecakes. Place 8 small metal rings (5cm wide and 4cm high) on a tray in the fridge to chill. Soften the soft cheese and set aside. Whip the cream in a bowl to form soft peaks, then set aside in the fridge until needed.

Make an Italian meringue. Put 85g of the sugar and the water in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then bring to the boil and boil steadily until the syrup reaches a temperature of 105°C. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites for 1 minute until they start to thicken, then slowly add the sugar syrup, whisking continuously for about 8 minutes or until the meringue mixture is glossy and thick. Set aside.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl is not touching the hot water underneath), whisk the remaining 40g caster sugar and the egg yolks together to make a thick sabayon. Remove from the heat and stir in the softened gelatine until dissolved, then stir in the melted chocolate and stem ginger. Fold in the softened soft cheese until combined, then carefully fold in the Italian meringue, followed by the whipped cream. Transfer the mixture to the chilled metal rings, dividing it evenly, and then chill until set, about 4 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the ginger brittle biscuits. Melt the butter, sugar and glucose together in a small pan over a low heat, stirring until melted and combined, but do not boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and ginger until combined, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool, then refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line 2 or 3 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Roll the chilled biscuit dough into small walnut-sized balls, then place them on the prepared baking trays, leaving an 8cm gap between each one. Bake in the oven for 5–7 minutes until crisp, cooked and golden brown all over. Leave to cool slightly on the baking trays, then transfer to cooling racks and leave to cool completely. Store the biscuits in an airtight container for up to 2 days (you will have leftovers to enjoy with a cup of tea another time).

Next, prepare the poached rhubarb. Put the sugar, water, vanilla seeds and grated ginger in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat, bring to the boil and then boil the syrup for 4 minutes without stirring. Add the prepared rhubarb, bring the syrup back to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave the rhubarb to cool in the syrup at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Once cool, transfer to a suitable container and keep refrigerated until needed.

Finally, prepare the rhubarb pearls. Pour the oil into a freezer proof jug or bowl and place in the freezer for 2 hours before you use it. Blend the poached rhubarb and syrup together in a blender until smooth, then pour into a small pan and heat gently until hot. Remove from the heat, add the bloomed gelatine and stir until dissolved. Pass the rhubarb purée through a fine sieve.

Using a syringe, drop small droplets of the warm sieved purée into the ice-cold oil, then leave them for a few minutes to set. Once set, use a slotted spoon to carefully remove them from the oil, then rinse under cold running water and leave them to drain on kitchen paper. Keep the pearls chilled until you are ready to serve, but be sure to use them on the same day. (Keep any leftover purée in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, then gently reheat the purée and make more pearls, as above.)

To serve, drain the remaining poached rhubarb and arrange it on serving plates. Break 8 of the ginger brittle biscuits (1 per cheesecake) into pieces to create shards. Carefully remove the cheesecakes from the metal rings (see Chef’s Note), then place a shard of biscuit at each end of each cheesecake. Place the cheesecakes on the plates and decorate with the rhubarb pearls. Serve immediately.

Chef’s Note

To remove the cheesecakes from the metal rings with ease, use a blowtorch and gently heat the rings all the way round, then pick each ring up and give it one shake – the cheesecake should then glide out. Do not overheat the metal rings, otherwise the cheesecakes will start to melt.

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