White chocolate summer cheesecake
There is something about making a cheesecake, unless you make the Basque version. The mixing has to be done slowly and steadily. It is the temperature of the oven and no door opening for a specific time. And then there is that moment when you take it out and hope for the best, no cracks and a beautiful finish. The variations are endless. Even I have three versions of white chocolate cheesecake, and I do believe they all are beautiful. This one is a more summery version with grated chocolate, two handfuls of blueberries, verbena, basil, and peppermint from my small garden.
200 g oat or digestive cookies
50 g walnuts
50 g butter, melted
800 g cream cheese, room temperature
pinch of sea salt
1 vanilla pod seeds
2 tbsp wheat flour
200 g white or golden caster sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
100 g white chocolate, grated
350 g sour cream
Heat the oven to 200° from the top and bottom. Place the rack one level below the center. Line the bottom of a 23 cm diameter cake pan with parchment paper. Prepare the base. Butter the sides of the pan.
Process the cookies and nuts, so they are quite fine and place in a bowl. Add the butter and mix. Press the mixture unto the bottom and sides of the pan, making it about 5mm thick. Make sure the corner is not too thick. Put in the oven for 15 minutes and then remove.
Lower the oven temperature to 140°.
Prepare the filling.In a mixing bowl, place 1/3 of the cream cheese, about 50 g sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour. Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment, but if you don’t have one, then whisk for about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides, until the mixture is creamy. Continuing beating, gradually add 200 g cream cheese, incorporating each addition well. When all the cream cheese has been added, add the remaining sugar in three parts then, while the mixer is running.
Slowly mix everything in, scraping down the sides. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating each one in well and scraping down the sides. While the mixer is on low speed, add cream and chocolate. Mix everything well on low speed, just until fully incorporated, not longer.
Pour the filling into the pan and bake for 1 hour 10 - 20 minutes. The middle has to be a bit wobbly (not too much). Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature and cover with cling film and refrigerate for 12 hours for the flavors to melt.
In the meantime, put the sieve on a bowl and pour in the sour cream. Cover and let it rest in the fridge for 12h. Few hours before serving, mix sour cream with lemon, sugar, and salt. Whisk with a hand whisk to incorporate. Spread over the cake, decorate with berries and greens, and let it rest for a few more hours. Serve.
Many times when we eat dinner (and we do that together almost every evening), we talk about people and their food/eating habits. Actually no, we talk about their life habits and why (oh why?) so many people think food is the least important thing in their lives: why mothers don't pay attention to what their kids eat; why grownups say that they would like to change their eating habits, but don't; why we think that our meals have to be trendy, not real and honest; and why they compete about who has had a meal in Michelin restaurants, but when they return home, they eat crap.
I know it is easy for me to talk about this since I'm a food addict, and some people like to call me gourmand (I hate that word). I am an addict – yes, but only in that way that I do not put in my mouth every little thing that is put in front of me. No. Life is much harder for me – I only like to eat the things I value, something I consider good for my body and that brings joy + tastes great. That is the hardest combination of all, considering that most of the time, the food has to be made in 30 minutes during the week. But I do that, sometimes in 30 minutes, sometimes in 1h, depending on the way the day goes. But we always sit down at the end of the day to have a meal together, because that is the one time we are all there, at home, and interested in the things that have happened in each other’s lives.
So, every time I hear that someone goes to the gym at dinnertime and does not have family meal together, I get sad. Not because I judge them, but because I think about how much our society’s values have changed, and by that I mean, time spent together daily. Yes, I know that some may say that that is all bullshit (so sorry about this expression, but that's what people do say) – that eating is not the only way to spend time together, but you know what – I believe it is. It has always been – the best relationships have developed by sitting at the table and eating (eating chocolate coated strawberries and Champagne or a hearty soup), the deepest secrets have been told while eating, the best ideas have been born, and the loudest laughs have sparkled during dinnertime. And, most of the love has been declared at the table.
It is not my thing to judge anyone, and I do not, but it is my wish for you to think about that. About the reasons we do not cook daily, why we do not sit at the table together, why we are afraid to talk at the table, and why we do not care about each other. Yes, we are running around and have no time for everything nowadays, but at the same time, we know that we all decide to have or not have that time. I choose to have it, and I have always had it (even when I had babies at home, slept 4h a day, had my business, and worked 18 h a day), because that’s all that matters – good food and conversation: talking to each other while eating the food that has been prepared with love and care.
Recipe and pictures: Signe Meirane
Camera: Sony Alpha 7s