Recipe by Andrea Robins
Handy Tip - the cherries used in this recipe are the ones sold in glass jars or cans, but if you can’t get hold of this type, frozen morello cherries can be readily found in most supermarkets and work equally well once defrosted. Without the syrup, they can be a little ‘tarte’, which can balance out the sweetness of the amaretti crust, but is very much down to the individual’s taste preference, so if you need to sweeten the flavour, create your own syrup by reserving the juice from the drained, defrosted cherries and adding sugar to taste. As a guide, if using a 300g punnet of frozen cherries, pour the juice into a small bowl (or a large mug), and try adding 2 tsps of sugar (once again, adjust according to taste preference). Warming the cherry liqor slightly in the microwave for 10 seconds helps the sugar dissolve more readily, and give a more accurate level of sweetness when tasting.
This won’t sweeten the cherries themselves, even if you put them back in the syrup to soak for a while, but when eaten together with the cheesecake, the sweetness of the syrup will come through.
10. Pour the filling onto the prepared amaretti / chocolate chip base. The filling will almost fill the tin and although the cake will rise slightly during cooking, it will shrink back after being removed from the heat.
*Handy Tip - Place your cheesecake tin on top of another flat baking sheet or tray in the oven during cooking. As the cheesecake cooks, it rises above the rim of the tin, and any excess moisture that escapes, will drop onto a removable, easily cleaned baking tray, rather than the bottom of your oven.
11. Cook for 1 hour or until raised and top is golden. The middle of the cheesecake will still appear slightly loose in texture.
12. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Allow it to cool fully before adding the topping (a couple of hours at least), and allow time to refrigerate ideally before adding topping / serving.
13. When cold, simply spoon the Morello cherries over the top of the cheesecake. Serve on it’s own, with cream or with an extra drizzle of the reserved cherry syrup.
Blind baking can provide some protection against this, however once your cheesecake is placed in a fridge to chill, the moisture in the filling coupled with the moisture in the air, inevitably penetrates the biscuit, reducing crispness. However a trick that some patisserie chefs use is brushing the biscuit base with some lightly beaten egg before baking (as you would when blind baking a pastry shell). This can cause an extra barrier between the filling and the base, to limit moisture being absorbed that way.
Also, ensuring the biscuit base is completely cool before adding the filling can reduce the possibility of getting a soggy crust.
Crust is too hard to cut!
This happens when the crust has been compressed too much before cooking. A good tip is to use the base of a glass tumbler to gently flatten the crumb, there is no need to press hard, the weight of the glass itself, with a gently press downward, is often sufficient to give a nice smooth and even surface.
Cheesecake is covered in cracks!
There are 2 trains of thought here – those that are not bothered by the cracks and those that view cracks as a disaster. In my humble opinion, I think cracks add a bit of character, it’s that wonderful and endearing ‘imperfect’ finish that suggests ‘homemade’ rather than factory. However, common reasons for cracking are:
Over-cooking – prevented by cooking only until the outer ring of the cheesecake is slightly puffed up and fairly firm, but the inner circles still wobbles like jelly.
Cooling too fast - allow gradual cooling by letting the cheesecake sit in the turned-off oven with the door slightly ajar, for about an hour, then remove it and let it cool completely on the stovetop.
There is also an alternative baking method, which involves using a water bath to create a steamy environment, which stops the surface of the cheesecake from getting too dry:
Set the cheesecake in a roasting pan or other large baking dish, fill it with a few inches of water, and put the whole thing in the oven. Wrapping the cheesecake pan in foil also helps keep any water from seeping through the crack
When you remove it from the waterbath, also run a thin-bladed knife around the edge to make sure the cake isn't sticking to the pan, which can also cause cracks as the cake settles.