New York-Style Cheesecake with Salted Caramel
Apart from saving time and money, the main benefit of cooking a cheesecake in the pressure cooker is that you will not run the risk of a cracked top. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to avoid that with a baked version, but it’s never once happened since using the pressure cooker.
While it’s possible to eat this warm, straight from the cooker, it is best to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight - it will improve the texture immeasurably. You can make individual cheesecakes too: I fill ring moulds, each one placed on a circle of foil, the sides folded up and secured with an elastic band to ensure no spillage, and put them in the steamer basket. They take around 8 minutes to cook.
If you are nervous about making the caramel sauce, you could substitute it with Dulce de Leche instead - just flavour it with the same ingredients.
|For the caramel:|
|150 ml||whipping cream|
|1 tsp||vanilla extract|
|½ tsp||sea salt|
|For the base:|
|For the filling:|
|150g||soft light brown sugar|
|1 tsp||vanilla extract|
You will need a 20cm cake tin and a pressure cooker.
To make the caramel, heat the sugar in a pan over a medium heat. When it starts to liquefy around the edges and turn a darker colour, gently begin swirling the pan around until the sugar has completely melted and is smoking a little. Immediately remove from the heat and pour in half the cream. It will splutter and bubble up just like overboiling milk. Stir briskly until the sugar and cream are amalgamated - you might need to put it over a gentle heat while doing this if some of the sugar hardens. Add the rest of the cream, the vanilla and salt. Put the pan in cold water to chill quickly then refrigerate until needed - the caramel should thicken as it cools.
Melt together the chocolate and butter for the base. I do this in a pan on a very low heat, but do use a bain marie (a bowl placed above, but not actually touching, simmering water) if you prefer. Whiz the biscuits in a food processor (or get rid of some aggression and bash them with a rolling pin), then add the melted butter and chocolate and mix. Press into a 20cm cake tin and put in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
Cream together the cream cheese and sugar, then add the eggs, soured cream and vanilla. Pour over the biscuit base. Drop teaspoons of the caramel onto the cheesecake - most of it will sink and create ‘pockets’ of caramel in and under the filling. Reserve the rest of the caramel to serve separately with the cheesecake.
Put the trivet in the pressure cooker and pour in water until it almost reaches the top of the trivet. Make a foil handle (instructions below). Place the cake tin in the centre of the handle and lower onto the trivet. Fold the edges of the handle down, making sure that they don’t touch or cover the cheesecake. Close the lid and bring to high pressure. Cook for 15 minutes then allow to drop pressure naturally.
Lime and ginger cheesecake: My in-laws prefer a zestier cheesecake. For them, I omit the vanilla, use gingernuts instead of digestives for the base, add the grated zest and juice of a lime to the filling and add finely chopped stem ginger and an optional tablespoon of rum to the caramel, along with just a pinch of the salt.
Cinnamon apple cheesecake: Add ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a pinch each of ground cloves and ground allspice to the crushed digestives. Add these same flavours to the caramel, along with just a pinch of the salt and some apple brandy or Calvados, according to taste, if you have some. Finally, peel and dice a firm eating apple. Toss the apple pieces in a mixture of brown sugar with a touch of cinnamon, then stir this through the filling.
How to make the foil handle: Foil is useful for making a handle with which to lower things in and out of the pressure cooker. This is particularly necessary for anything that is quite a snug fit, as it would otherwise require a degree of dexterity that I certainly don't possess. Take a long sheet of foil and fold it in half twice lengthways, so that it is four-ply and a quarter of its original width - this will make it extremely sturdy. You can then use it as a 'handle' by placing any receptacle centrally on top of it, then holding both sides of the foil to manoevre things in and out of the pressure cooker. Once your receptacle is in the cooker, simple fold down the edges of the foil to fit inside, and unroll again after cooking, ready to lift out.