I’m known for my super sweet tooth. so you can imagine my sheer delight when flicking through a copy of The Metro on my way to work, I came across a recipe for Jelly and Custard Cheesecake! Not one but three of my favourite things all merged together to make this wonderful dessert. Jelly: good. Custard: good. Cheesecake: great! What was there not to like? And it wasn’t just the idea of it that enticed me but the photograph of the end result was amazing: a deliciously creamy cheesecake with a dusting of sugar sprinkles with a whole ruby red jelly placed ceremoniously on top surrounded by slices of sweet, ripe strawberries. If I could have reached into the paper and taken a slice, I would have (but I really don’t like the taste of newspaper!)
I’m not really sure what kids have for dessert any more but I’m quite sure it’s not jelly and custard as I haven’t heard of anybody making it or eating it (besides myself of course) for a very long time. However, jelly and custard/cream/ice cream was a big deal for us as kids and was considered a real treat. We loved everything about jelly from the way it looked and wobbled to of course the way it tasted. We even loved the fact that unmade jelly started life as a squidgy slab of cubed, coloured gelatine – and naturally, at least two of those cubes from every pack never made contact with boiling water!
But in more recent years, I’ve found that it’s popularity has waned. Indeed, in America, jelly (or jell-o as our Stateside cousins call it) is considered a poor man’s dessert which makes me wonder why American supermarkets stock far more flavour varieties than we do here in Britain. In fact while, I was living in the States I went through several bowls of the great wobbly stuff but probably did so in a bid to combat homesickness and not just because it was seriously yummy stuff!
So here’s Hannah Miles’ recipe for jelly and custard cheesecake; a more sophisticated version of a childhood classic.
Those who have never tried jelly and custard just don’t know what they’re missing…
INGREDIENTS Serves 10
For the topping: 135g packet strawberry jelly cubes
1tsp vanilla bean paste
150ml double cream, whipped to stiff peaks
8 strawberries, hulled and sliced, plus 1 whole strawberry
sugar sprinkles, to decorate
For the crumb base: 200g pink wafer biscuits
60g butter, melted
For the cheesecake: 4 sheets leaf gelatine
300g cream cheese
250g mascarpone cheese
100g vanilla sugar
180ml double cream
1 generous tbsp custard powder
an 18cm ring silicone jelly mould
a 23cm round springform cake pan, greased and lined
a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle
Step 1: Begin by preparing the jelly topping. You need to do this the day before you want to serve the cheesecake as it is best to set overnight. Make up the jelly according to the instructions and stir the vanilla into the liquid. Pour the jelly into an 18cm ring silicone jelly mould and leave to set.
Step 2: For the base, crush the wafers to fine crumbs in a food processor or place in a clean plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a mixing bowl and stir in the melted butter. Press the buttery crumbs into the base of a 23cm springform cake tin, greased and lined, using the back of a spoon until tightly compacted.
Step 3: For the filling, soak the gelatine leaves in water until they are soft. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, mascarpone and sugar until light and creamy. Put the cream in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and warm gently. Stir in the custard powder and whisk until blended. Squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and stir them into the cream until the gelatine dissolves. Carefully add the cream to the cream cheese mixture, passing it through a sieve to remove any gelatine pieces that have not dissolved, then beat until the mixture is smooth and slightly thick. Pour the mixture over the crumb base and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight until set.
Step 4: When you are ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the tin by sliding a knife around the edge, then transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate. Dip the jelly mould in a bowl of hot water for a few seconds to loosen the jelly. Invert the jelly mould on to the top of the cheesecake and remove the mould. Spoon the whipped cream into the piping bag and pipe stars around the edge of the cheesecake, then pipe a little into the centre of the jelly. Arrange slices of strawberry around the edge of the jelly and place the whole strawberry in the centre. Decorate with sugar sprinkles and serve straight away.