Ottolenghi's Apricot and Amaretto Cheesecake
This is the cheesecake to round off a dinner party. Some will have this instead of a glass of Amaretto; others will see it as the perfect excuse to bring the bottle to the table. Whichever way the party goes, there’s an in-built synergy here, with the sweet Amaretto liqueur (made from a base of apricot kernels and bitter almonds) complementing the roasted apricots and flaked roasted almonds.
|For the base:|
|100g||unsalted butter, melted|
|350g||fresh apricots, cut in half and stone removed|
|For the filling:|
|Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla pod|
|Finely grated zest of 1 large orange (1 tbsp)|
|5||large eggs, lightly beaten|
|For the topping:|
|400g||fresh apricots, cut in half and stone removed|
|1 tbsp||caster sugar|
You will need: a 23cm round springform tin, a food processor, and an electric mixer with paddle attachment.
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C Fan/Gas Mark 3. Lightly grease the base and sides of a 23cm round springform tin and line with baking parchment.
2. Spread all the almonds (for the base and topping) out on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown. Set aside 15g for the topping.
3. For the base, place the digestive biscuits in a food processor and blitz to form fine crumbs: the consistency should be that of dried breadcrumbs. Tip into a medium bowl and add the almonds and melted butter. Use your hands or a large spoon to combine: the mixture should be the consistency of wet sand. Spoon the crumbs into the tin, using your hands to press them into the base. Even out the crust with the back of a spoon or the base of a glass and set aside in the fridge.
4. Increase the oven temperature to 210°C/190°C Fan/Gas Mark 6.
5. Spread the apricots for the base out on a baking tray, cut side up, and roast for 25 minutes (or a little longer, if they were very firm to begin with), until they are soft but still holding their shape. Set aside to cool.
6. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C/150°C Fan/Gas Mark 3.
7. For the filling, place the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla seeds and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the eggs, followed by the soured cream, and beat until combined; you might need to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Finally, add the Amaretto and mix until combined.
8. Remove the cheesecake base from the fridge and arrange the roasted apricots evenly over the bottom, cut side down. The apricots should fit quite snugly without overlapping or leaving gaps. Gently pour the cheesecake filling over the apricots and then place on a baking tray. Cook for 1 hour, or until the sides of the cheesecake are set but the middle has a wobble when shaken very gently. Turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake inside for another hour, with the door propped open with a wooden spoon, before placing in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight to chill and set completely.
9. On the day of serving, preheat the oven to 210°C/190°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Spread the apricots out on a baking tray, cut side up, and roast for 25 minutes (or a little longer, if they were very firm to begin with), until they are soft but still holding their shape. Sprinkle the apricots with the sugar, water and the Amaretto. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, until the apricots are moist and syrupy. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
10. When ready to serve, release the springform tin, remove the baking parchment and transfer to a cake platter. Spoon the roasted syrupy apricots into the centre of the cake, sprinkle over the reserved toasted almonds and serve.
The biscuit crumb base can be made and pressed into the cake tin up to 2 days in advance and stored in the fridge. The cheesecake can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the fridge (the topping should only be added on the day of serving).
Once assembled, the cake is best eaten on the same day. Leftovers will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge; they just won’t look as perfect as on day one.