White Chocolate and Ginger Cheesecake, Ginger Brittle and Rhubarb
The outdoor rhubarb season is in full swing. Piers from High House Farm Suffolk is supplying us with the most glorious rhubarb. We worked hard this season to build the ever growing rhubarb recipe collection as well as cooking some of our old classics and favourites.
Rhubarb is such an easy vegetable to work with and pairs beautifully with many wonderful ingredients. The combination of the white chocolate and ginger cheesecake and rhubarb works wonderfully together. The cheesecake is a set cheesecake rather than a baked one. By making an Italian meringue before adding the cream 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. I have a slight personal problem with cheesecake bases, they are nine out of ten times soggy and for that reason I tried something different with this recipe. I made ginger brittle biscuits separately and broke them into shards, then demoulded the individual cheesecakes, sandwiching a ginger brittle shard at each end. Not only do you have an amazing textural contrast, but it also looks amazing and is very different to the same old cheesecake recipes.
The rhubarb that’s served with the cheesecakes is simply poached, then half the poached rhubarb is made into little rhubarb pearls that are ever so easy to re-create. You do not need fancy ingredients apart from the usual store cupboard 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 require a tasteless oil such as groundnut oil or sunflower oil. Let the oil cool in the freezer for at least two hours or overnight - it will not freeze, it just becomes super cold. Then use half of the poached rhubarb to make a puree and add gelatine. Using the syringe, drop the puree into the very cold oil which will suspend each droplet – the chill will 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 center, they will be set all the way through (thought I’d better manage everyone’s expectations). For a liquid center chemicals are required and then that becomes a bit tricky and more technical. This method is simple and easy to recreate.
For the White Chocolate and Ginger Cheesecake
- 300g cream cheese
- 180ml whipping cream
- 125g caster sugar
- 50ml cold water
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 2 gelatine leaves, bloomed/ softened
- 200g white chocolate, melted
- 1 tablespoon of finely diced stem ginger
First make the Cheesecake: place 8 small metal rings (5cm wide and 4cm high) in the fridge on a tray to chill. Soften the cream cheese, set aside. Semi-whip the cream and set aside in the fridge till needed. Make an Italian meringue: in a small saucepan bring 85g caster sugar and 50ml cold water to the boil until 105 °C , whip 4 egg whites until it starts to volumise and after one minute slowly add the sugar syrup whip until glossy and shiny for about 8 minutes, the mix would have started to cool down by now. In a bowl over simmering water that is not touching the boiling water whip 40g of caster sugar and 4 yolks to a thick sabayon, stir in the softened gelatine melted chocolate and diced stem ginger. Blend the sabayon and cream cheese then carefully fold the Italian meringue into the sabayon followed by the semi-whipped cream. Transfer the mix to the chilled metal rings and chill until set, about 4 hours.
For the Ginger Brittle Biscuits
- 225g caster sugar
- 120g unsalted butter
- 120g glucose
- 120g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
Prepare the Ginger Brittle Biscuits: in a small saucepan over low heat melt the butter, sugar and glucose, stir until dissolved, do not boil. Once melted and dissolved remove from the heat and stir in the flour and ginger, leave to cool and refrigerate for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll small walnut size balls, place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper and leave 8cm gaps between each. Bake for 5 – 7 minutes, till crisp, golden brown and cooked all over. Leave to cool. Keep in an airtight container for up to two days.
For the Poached Rhubarb
- 150ml water
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
- 350g rhubarb, cut into 4cm x 0.5mm batons
Prepare the Poached Rhubarb: In a small saucepan dissolve the sugar in the water with the seeds from the vanilla pod and grated ginger over low heat, stirring until dissolved, increase the heat and boil the syrup for 4 minutes. Add the prepared rhubarb, bring the syrup back to the simmer for 2 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and leave the rhubarb in to cool in the syrup at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Keep refrigerated until needed.
For the Rhubarb Pearls
- 500ml groundnut or sunflower oil
- 2 gelatine leaves, soaked
- 150g poached rhubarb + 50ml poaching syrup
Prepare the Rhubarb Pearls: place the oil in the freezer for two hours before needed. Bloom the gelatine by soaking it in cold water till softened. Blend the poached rhubarb and syrup until smooth, gently heat and dissolve the gelatine in the warm rhubarb puree. Pass the puree through a fine sieve. Use a syringe and drop small droplets of the puree in the ice-cold oil, leave them to set, use a slotted spoon to carefully remove them from the oil, rinse under chilled running water and leave to drain. Keep the pearls chilled until serving. Use them on the same day. Keep the puree for up to three days in the fridge and to make the pearls gently heat the puree before making the pearls as described above.
To serve: carefully remove the cheesecake from the rings. Drain the poached rhubarb and arrange on the plate. Break a ginger brittle biscuit to create shards and place a shard at each end of the cheesecakes, place them on the plate and garnish with the rhubarb pearls.
Cook'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 the ring up and give it one shake and then the cheesecake should glide out. Do not over heat the ring as the cheesecake will melt.