Warm Feta Cheesecake with a 100% cocoa base and Watermelon Ice cream

Warm Feta Cheesecake with a 100% cocoa base and Watermelon Ice cream

I’ve just got back from an incredible weekend at Greenbelt Festival and will no doubt be posting lots of thoughts, ideas and recipes inspired from all that. For today though I’ve got this fun lil’ recipe for you!

It’s been a while since I’ve tried anything wacky and elegant in the kitchen so I thought it was about time I got experimental again. I always have around 3-4 ideas for dishes in my head at a time, but it’s the effort needed to work out the recipe and make the dish that slows me down in actually getting them tried and tested. As for this dessert, the flavour ideas and components have been in my mind for a long time, so it’s really satisfying to finally see it all on a plate and tasting delicious!

I first came across the idea of feta cheesecake in a little Mediterranean restaurant in a remote village in north Devon (as you do). It easily caught my attention on the menu as it’s something I’d never even heard of before, let alone eaten, and I just had to know if it worked. Needless to say it was a revelation! The salty tang of the feta works really well in a simple cheesecake, and even more so in a dessert like the one I tried in Lynton and this one I developed at home.

(This is the feta dessert I tried at the Vanilla Pod in Lynton – if you’re ever nearby I’d really recommend eating there!)

The ideas for the other flavour components in this came from my current obsession with super bitter dark chocolate and that delicious watermelon ice cream I first tasted in Rome (recipe went up last week!). What resulted from these ideas and flavour inspirations that I’ve been wanting to couple up for ages is a rich, warm feta cheesecake with a bitter cocoa base, served with a refreshing watermelon gelato! Sounds fancy, looks fancy, tastes amazing, and is not too complicated to put together – so it’s pretty much a win all round!

Recipe

Serves 3

Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

For the base

  • 50g Dark chocolate biscuits (I used oreos with the creamy centre scraped out)
  • 55g Unsalted butter
  • 50g 100% cocoa chocolate

For the filling

  • 50g Feta Cheese
  • 30g Heavy cream
  • 60g Cream cheese
  • 1 Small egg
  • ¼ tsp Lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp Lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp Vanilla bean paste
  • ½ tbsp Plain flour
  • 55g Caster sugar

To serve

  • 50g Dark chocolate
  • 50 ml Double cream
  • Watermelon ice cream (see last week’s recipe – a fruit sorbet could also work here, but I really recommend the watermelon!)
  • Fresh mint to garnish (optional)

Note: This recipe uses metal dessert rings which gives the cheesecakes their beautiful cylindrical shape. However, if you don’t have these to hand you could use a greased muffin tin, metal ramekins or even make one big one in a lined cake tin!

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Begin by making the base. But the biscuits into a bowl and crush with the base of a rolling pin to make a fine crumb. Grate the chocolate into the biscuits and stir to combine.
  3. Meanwhile melt the butter in a small pan and then pour this over the crushed biscuits. Stir to make a mixture with the texture of damp sand.
  4. Take 3 metal dessert rings (about 7.5cm in diameter and 6cm tall) and place them on your lined baking tray. Press the biscuit mixture into the base of your moulds with the back of a spoon (or your fingers) and then bake in the oven for around 10 minutes until starting to crisp.
  5. Meanwhile make the filling. Put the feta and cream into a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Then add the cream cheese and mix again. Next add the egg, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla and mix together, before adding the flour and sugar and stirring again to make a smooth mixture.
  6. Pour the mixture over the cooked bases and shake the trays a little from side to side to knock out any air bubbles. Bake the cheesecakes in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they start to brown a little on top. Then leave them in their moulds whilst you prepare the topping.
  7. Finely chop the chocolate for the topping and place into a heatproof bowl. Then heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just reaches the boil. Quickly pour the warm cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.
  8. To plate up begin by putting the cheesecakes onto separate plates. Take a sharp prep knife and run it under some warm water to warm it up. Then dry it and run it around the edge of the cheesecakes to loosen them from their moulds. Carefully lift the moulds up and off of the cheesecakes and set to one side. Drizzle the cheesecakes with a little of the chocolate ganache and then finish a scoop of watermelon ice cream and a garnish of fresh mint!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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