I was lucky enough to visit New York and stay with a lovely American family I had cooked for when they were holidaying in Scotland. They would visit Scourie, spelled “Scoury”, which is a village on the north west coast of Scotland, about halfway between Ullapool and Durness. A stunning spot but because it is so far North and remote sourcing the ingredients was quite tricky! I cooked for them for their annual 2 week holiday and they were a delight.
I discovered they are crazy about cheesecakes in the USA. In New York there are shops dedicated to just selling cheesecakes, flavours I’d never heard of. An absolute classic The New York Baked Cheese cake is delicious by it’s self or served with fruit and is really easy to make. I had to improvise when I was cooking in Scourie because trying to track down vanilla pods was no easy task. I discovered if I used some custard mix and folded through soft cream cheese with sugar to taste ‘hey presto’ I had the filling. This nifty trick has stood me in good stead ever since. If you have the time and ingredients the original recipe for the filling is very simple to make. Every time I see the pudding on a menu or get asked to make it I smile and remember my happy cooking jolly in Scourie and New York.
150g digestive biscuits
90g melted unsalted butter
900g full fat soft cream cheese
250g caster sugar
1 split vanilla pod or 2 tsp vanilla essence
1 lemon . Zest the lemon then juice
285 ml soured cream
Start by making the cheesecake base. My favourite method is to pop the digestive biscuits in a freezer bag and squish them with a rolling pin. Great way to unwind and get rid of any tension! Once you have bashed them into crumb form pop in a mixing bowl and stir in the melted butter.
Line a medium round cake tin with greaseproof paper and if you have a tin with a removable base all the better. This will make it easier to turn the cake out.
Set the oven to 180c gas 4
Press the biscuit base into the cake tin and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool while you make the filling.
Pop the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and begin to mix with an electric hand mixer or if you have a KitchenAid pop it in that. Gradually add the sugar and continue to mix. Now add the vanilla, zest of the lemon and a squeeze of lemon juice. Not too much just enough to give the mixture a kick. Now add the eggs and continue to mix and finally the soured cream. You want the filling to be light and smooth.
Pour the filling into the cake tin and bake for 20 minutes. Check the cheesecake and if the filling looks set it’s done. If it’s still a wee bit wobbly give it another 5 minutes until it has set.
Allow to cool before you put it in the fridge.
Chill over night and just before you want to serve it run a round bladed knife around the sides of the tin to help the cake out. I serve mine with some berry compote and fruit coulis but any fruit, ice cream, pouring cream will be equally as delicious.
© Catriona Macdougall cookyourselfhappier.com, 2017