This is one stunning dessert – the cherries and white chocolate make it very festive, so it’s perfect for the Christmas table.
If you don’t have fresh cherries, feel free to use fresh berries or strawberries. The jam through the middle goes brilliantly with the chocolate for ultimate decadence. This baked cheesecake is gluten-free (so it can be enjoyed by all!) and can be made up to a 2-3 days in advance and kept in the fridge (covered). You could even make it further ahead and freeze it in a large airtight container, then take it out and defrost (in the fridge) on the day of serving.
Baking cheesecakes can often be a little tricky – so check out my tips below to ensure perfection!
- ground almonds or hazelnuts 200g
- desiccated coconut ½ cup
- butter 70g, melted
- medjool dates 6, stones removed (note: if you don't have medjool dates you can use 10 normal dried (baking) dates; just boil them in a small pot with a splash of water for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until they are soft and sticky - this will help the base mixture stick together)
- full fat cream cheese 400g, softened
- caster sugar 1/3 cup
- vanilla essence or extract 1 1/2 teaspoons
- free-range eggs 3
- dark eating chocolate (60-72% cocoa) 220g (get the best quality you can afford - I like to use Green and Blacks Organic or Whittakers Dark Ghana)
- full fat sour cream 250g
- black cherry jam or conserve 3/4 cup (if you don't have cherry jam, you can use plum, boysenberry or raspberry jam)
- fresh cherries, raspberries and strawberries
- white chocolate shaved with a peeler
- jam (flavour as used above) 2 tablespoons
Cinnamon yoghurt cream to serve (optional)
- cream 3/4 cup, whipped to soft peaks
- natural unsweetened yoghurt 1/2 - 3/4 cup
- cinnamon or mixed spice 3/4 teaspoon
Preheat oven to 160 degC/320 Fahrenheit (not fan-bake). Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.
- In a food processor, blitz all the base ingredients until well combined. The mixture should be a crumbly consistency and hold together well when pinched. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mash the dates with boiling water until they are very soft and then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined.
- Tip base mixture into cake tin and press down firmly and evenly with the back of a large wet spoon, ensuring it is neat and flat.
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer on low speed, to beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
- Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in a glass bowl over a pot of just simmering water. Stir in the sour cream, mixing gently until smooth.
- Add chocolate mixture to cream cheese mixture and beat (on low speed) until well combined.
- Melt jam in a small saucepan on low heat for 1-2 minutes or in the microwave very briefly.
- Spoon half of the cheesecake filling into the cake tin, and drizzle over half to three quarters of the jam. Pour over remaining cheesecake filling, and drizzle over remaining jam. Bake for 1 hour until cheesecake is just set but still has a slight wobble in the middle.
- Remove cheesecake from oven and leave to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge for a few hours, or overnight, to set.
When ready to serve, melt cherry jam in a small pot or microwave. Garnish cheesecake with fresh cherries, strawberries, raspberries and white chocolate shavings and drizzle over the jam. If using, fold all cinnamon yoghurt cream ingredients together and serve on the side.
Tips for perfectly baked cheesecake:
- Avoid over-beating cream cheese at high speed as this incorporates too much air into the filling, causing the cheesecake to puff up and then collapse in the oven
- If using a gas oven, place cheesecake on a lower shelf to cook. If using an electric oven, use a centre rack.
- To help prevent cheesecake from drying out, place a small bowl or cup of water at the bottom of the oven –this will create steam to keep a moist environment for the cheesecake while it cooks.
- The cheesecake is cooked when the edges are slightly puffed, but the centre still has a bit of a wobble, or is soft and custard like.