Moments of celebration: cake and Champagne
Author: Stewart Turner
In May, our “new” shop (which will probably always be considered new until it at least gets past 100!), marks its first birthday. So, as with any milestone, it calls for cake and possibly a little Champagne to celebrate.
A baked vanilla and white chocolate cheesecake with caramelised white chocolate and early summer berries may seem a rather left-field choice for a celebration cake, but this has a real wow factor. It is a thing of beauty, just like our new shop, and – most importantly – it is absolutely delicious and one of my own favourite cakes to make.
This recipe has been a staple in the kitchen at Berry Bros. & Rudd for the past 10 years because it’s so versatile. It can be used as a dessert or canapé, and has even been a wedding cake for one client. It’s simply beautiful, especially when paired with rhubarb, berries or tropical fruit.
- 850g cream cheese
- 245g caster sugar
- 5 eggs – beaten
- 1 vanilla pod – split and seeds scraped out
- 80g white chocolate – melted
- 80g sour cream
- 80g double cream
- 10 digestive biscuits
- 60g melted butter
- 400g strawberries – halved or quartered
- Shards of caramelised white chocolate – recipe below
- Strawberry coulis – recipe below
Preheat the oven to 145°C. Blitz the biscuits into crumbs in a food processor, then tip them into a bowl, add the melted butter, and give it a thorough mix. Press this mixture evenly into the base of a lined tin using the back of a metal spoon to give it a smooth surface and set aside.
In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, caster sugar and vanilla, then beat in the eggs. Take a third of this mixture and beat it into the melted white chocolate, then fold back into the rest of the cream cheese mix. This will stop the chocolate from setting and lumps forming. Stir in the sour and double cream.
Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and place the whole tin in a deep baking tray surrounded with ice cubes (this is optional but really helps regulate the temperate for the perfectionist ). Then bake in the oven for about 40 minutes; it should be just set firm on the edges but with a slight wobble in the centre. Allow to chill for a couple of hours, before placing in the fridge for several hours to firm up. Once chilled, remove from the tin and place on a serving dish.
To serve, place the strawberries and chocolate shards artfully on the top with some spots of coulis and enjoy with the remaining coulis on the side.
Caramelised white chocolate
Preheat the oven to 120°C. Break up the white chocolate into small, evenly sized pieces. Spread out the white chocolate onto a shallow non-stick baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir and spread around the chocolate with a spatula, repeat this process every 10 minutes for 30 to 60 minutes, until the white chocolate is deep golden brown in colour. During this time, the chocolate may turn lumpy and have a “chalky” appearance – this is normal, so keep going. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until ready to use.
- 300g strawberries – hulls removed and chopped
- 40g caster sugar
Heat the strawberries in a large pan until they start to break down. Add the sugar and continue to cook the fruit for a further 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved. Blend until smooth, adding a splash of water to the mixture if necessary to loosen. Strain the coulis through a sieve and set aside to cool. Chill in the fridge until needed.
Match with any one of these four fine fizzes…
- Champagne R&L Legras, Blanc de Blancs
- Berry Bros. & Rudd Blanc de Blancs Champagne by Le Mesnil, Grand Cru
- Champagne de Sousa, Brut Rosé, Grand Cru
- Champagne Mailly, Blanc de Pinot Noir, Composition Parcellaire, Brut