No-fuss deconstructed cheesecake: a wonderful simple treat
This cheesecake can be as rustic or as elegant as you like
Deconstructed summer berry cheesecake makes for a perfect summer dessert. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
During busy summer days, I love dinners that need minimal or no cooking. No one wants to have an oven cranking heat into an already muggy kitchen for longer than necessary. This deconstructed cheesecake is just that kind of relaxed summer dessert. There is no searching around for particular sizes of cake tins or worrying about setting times in the fridge.
This cheesecake can be as rustic or as elegant as you like. You can layer all the elements in a dish and eat it while swinging in a hammock. Or you can pipe and swirl and tweezer the elements onto a china plate and eat it with a dainty fork under a pergola. It will taste good either way, and it is wonderfully simple.
The star of this cheesecake is the fresh summer berries. The sweetest berries are often too delicate to withstand the rigours of the supermarket supply chain. Strawberries and raspberries are particularly good at this time of year. The likelihood over the next few weeks is that we’ll be tempted to pick up large punnets of juicy berries for sale by the roadside.
If you have a garden or a friend with an allotment, you might be able to get berries so sweet and tender they barely need crushing with a fork to provide the juicy sweetness this cheesecake needs. Otherwise, a few seconds in a blender with a little icing sugar makes for the brightest, freshest, summer berry coulis.
Adding some lemon or lime zest to the creamy mixture gives a refreshing tangy summer mousse. You can vary the biscuits for the base depending on what you have to hand. Anything from simple digestives to chocolate biscuits or ginger biscuits will give the crunch you need. The biscuits will absorb moisture from the rest of the cheesecake, so keep them separate until the last minute so they retain their crunch.
This recipe might sound like it is complicated because it has a fancy name but it is all to do with how it suits you to present it. Having said that, I have used chocolate soil, which is often seen on fine dining menus, yet it is simple to create.
If you wish to use frozen berries to make the coulis, that will work well too.
DECONSTRUCTED CHEESECAKE WITH SUMMER BERRY COULIS
For the cream cheese mousse:
250g mascarpone cheese
150g good quality cream cheese
25g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
100ml fresh cream
Zest of ½ lemon/lime (plus juice for coulis)
For summer berry coulis:
250g-300g fresh strawberries or raspberries
3 tbsp icing sugar
For the chocolate soil:
50g ground almonds
30g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
35g melted butter
Garnish: toasted flaked almonds (or fresh mint)
1 In a bowl, beat together the mascarpone, cream cheese, sugar, zest and vanilla until combined.
2 In a separate bowl whip the cream. Gently fold the cream into the cream cheese mix, until the mixture resembles a light mousse (don’t whisk too vigorously as the cream may split).
3 For the berry coulis: put half of the raspberries and strawberries in a blender with the icing sugar and blend to create a fruit coulis (add a dash of lemon juice to suit your taste).
4 For the chocolate soil: mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and spread evenly on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 160 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes.
5 To assemble in glasses: add a tablespoon of chocolate soil to the base of each glass. Spoon in a layer of cream cheese mousse. Spoon some reserved berries on top of the mousse and then a little coulis in each glass. Continue laying up all the ingredients. Finish with toasted flaked almonds.
Substitute peach or orange segments instead of berries in the layers.