Lychee and Ginger Cheesecake
Last night I cooked a four course Thai meal and served this cheesecake as one of the desserts. It was a big hit & several guests had seconds.
Normally with a Thai meal I serve Caramelised Bananas as everyone loves them. To my dismay the lady who chose the menu did not like cooked bananas. I was kind of annoyed as they are an easy dessert which I can knock out in 5 minutes (a big advantage you have so much food to prepare). She also did not want any sort of Thai rice based as it would be too heavy.
In the end we agreed that I would do a western-style dessert with Asian flavours and I said I would see what I could find in the Thai supermarket. The pickings at the supermarket were slim & I ended up with 2 cans of lychees and a slight sense of dread. My meal was going to be fantastic and I did not want it to fizzle out with a mediocre dessert. Now I am glad she didn’t like bananas I will definitely be making this again.
After having a bunch of ideas which I didn’t really feel good about I decided to wing it & make a cheesecake. Let’s face it they are hardly the stuff of fine dining restaurants but everyone loves a cheesecake. I certainly do & I have made so many that I feel confident just making it up as I go along.
I wanted it to be really light, almost like a mousse rather than heavy & creamy like a baked cheesecake. I decided to make the filling in the way you would make a mousse, with egg whites for texture and gelatine to set it. The syrup from the lychees sweetens up the cream cheese so there are not that many ingredients. If you don’t want to use gelatine then the lychee & ginger could just substitute the flavours in a regular cheesecake recipe.
As lychees are really sweet I used ginger to balance the flavours. If you don’t have preserved ginger in syrup then buy some, it’s amazing stuff. I use it in baking all the time. You can add it to sponges, biscuits, crumbles, pies and, (the most popular in our house) custard. Rhubarb crumble with ginger custard is my dad’s all time favourite food. I also use the syrup from the jar to sweeten tea, its so good. In fact if they sold just jars of the syrup I bet we would get through one of those a week in our house.
Lychee & Ginger Cheesecake
200g biscuits (I used Digestives but ginger snaps would be great)
400g cream cheese
80g natural yoghurt
1 can lychees (2 if you want to use some for garnish)
4 sheets gelatine (or vegetarian equivalent)
2 pieces preserved ginger (they usually come in chunks about 1 inch square in size)
1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Make the base by smashing the biscuits, melt the butter & mix the two together. Press this into a greased 20cm pie dish or tin.
3. Bake the base in the oven for 10 minutes and allow to cool completely. Place it in the fridge until you are ready to pour over the filling.
4. If you are using gelatine sheets put these into cold water to soften and begin to heat a little water in a pan to use as a bain-marie.
5. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft. Then add the yoghurt and mix the two until smooth.
6. Separate the eggs and beat 2 of the yolks into the mixture.
7. Drain the lychees and put about 75ml of the syrup into a heat proof bowl along with the soaked gelatine leaves. Heat these over your warmed water to dissolve the gelatine and set aside to cool. Chop the lychees into small pieces, about 1/2cm.
8. Meanwhile beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold the lychee pieces into the cream cheese mixture then add the egg whites. Use the thirds rule. You are aiming for a filling which is really light with lots of air bubbles.
9. Finally add the gelatine/syrup mixture. Be careful to keep as much air in the filling as possible. Fold it gently with a metal spoon.
10. Pour the filling over the base and put it straight into the fridge. It will need at least 2 hours to cool & set.
Once the filling has set and has a lovely wobbly consistency you can add the finely chopped preserved ginger to the top. Cutting the cheesecake with a heated knife will keep the portions neat.
I served this with a little drizzle of syrup from the preserved ginger and some lychees on the side.