This show stopping vanilla baked cheesecake with crystallised orange adds a burst of zesty flavour for a refreshing dessert. Perfect for a Christmas dessert the whole family will enjoy.
125g butter, melted
350g digestive biscuits, crushed into crumbs
600g cream cheese, at room temperature
225g caster sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
300g double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 oranges - the peel only
25g flaked almonds, toasted
250 - 300ml sour cream or Crème Fraîche
2 - 3 tbsps pomegranate seeds
A few sprigs of rosemary, dusted with icing sugar
A 23cm or 24 cm non-stick or springform tin. Ideally non-stick, otherwise greased.
1. Melt the butter and stir in the biscuit crumbs. Press into the tin and chill.
2. Mix together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs one by one, add the double cream, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt and whisk until smooth.
3. Pour on to the chilled base and bake in the AGA baking oven grid shelf on the floor with the cold plain shelf above for 50 - 60 minutes until the cheesecake is set but still has a slight ‘wobble’. Alternatively, cook in the AGA roasting oven for 10 minutes then transfer to the AGA simmering oven for a further 60 - 90 minutes.
4. Cool at room temperature for an hour then chill in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Remove from the tin (see tip). The cheesecake can be wrapped and frozen at this point.
5. To make the crystallised orange peel, take a thin layer of the orange peel off the oranges using a peeler, and slice very finely. Put 100g sugar and 100ml water in to a small pan along with the peel. Bring to the boil on the AGA boiling plate and then transfer to the AGA simmering plate to simmer gently for 20 minutes until the liquid is syrupy and the peel a little tender.
6. Drain through a sieve then spread on to an oven proof tray. Place in the AGA simmering oven for 20 mins or ideally the warming oven for an hour to dry out the peel.
7. Next, toss the peel in the remaining 200g sugar and lay on a foil lined tray for dry out for 8 hours or overnight.
8. Toast the flaked almonds on a piece of bake o glide on the simmering plate then store in an airtight container. The crystallised peel and the toasted almonds can be prepared several weeks ahead.
9. To finish and decorate, spread the soured cream over the cooled cheesecake. Top with the crystallised orange peel, toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds and rosemary sprigs.
AGA Tip: If using a solid tin to bake, freeze the cheesecake in the tin, then warm the base on the AGA simmering plate for a few minutes to loosen. Gently loosen around the edges, turn upside down on a large plate and remove the tin. Place the whole frozen cheesecake on to a serving plate and defrost in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for several hours.
Variation - Orange and Amaretti Baked Cheesecake - Replace the biscuits with crushed Amaretti biscuits and add the zest of an orange to the filling.