My sweet housemate recently turned 28, and to mark the occasion we spent the afternoon in our favourite canal-side watering hole, Bar Ourcq, sipping sweet mint tea…soon followed by a round of bloody mary’s and remedial pichets of Côtes du Rhône.
No tea party would be complete without cake, and this year I wanted to make the birthday girl a little something special: a Speculoos and wild berry cheesecake with caramel au beurre salé.
The cake itself was made with a speculoos biscuit base, secret layer of redcurrants, blueberries and raspberries, and a sumptuously tart lemon and cream cheese filling (recipe below).
The real magic was in the salted butter caramel sauce, which was a surprisingly successful experiment for a first attempt.
The first batch I made had a beautifully rich, thick dark honey tone but tasted slightly metallic as a result of my burning the sugar in the initial stages. For round two, I turned the heat down and whisked continuously throughout the process. The result was lighter in colour and texture, and tasted like Werther’s Original liquid gold with a welcome salty kick.
The secret is… never stop stirring!
- Pour 150g caster sugar into a pan with a thick bottom on a moderate heat.
- Keep stirring until the sugar starts to clump together.
- The lumps will start to brown slightly as the sugar melts.
- Be careful not to burn the sugar , so keep whisking and when it becomes a light brown liquid, add 50g butter (I used unsalted).
- Turn down the heat and stir in a heaped teaspoon of crushed sea salt.
- Once the butter has melted, pour in 20cl double cream – it will hiss and bubble but just keep whisking and take off the heat.
- Leave to cool and thicken for a few minutes…and enjoy as you wish!
For the cheesecake you’ll need:
- 200g Speculoos or digestive biscuits
- 50g melted butter
- 450g cream cheese
- 170ml pot crème fraiche
- 2 eggs
- juice of ½ lemon
- zest of 1 whole lemon
- 100g caster sugar (I used very little sugar to balance out the caramel sauce)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- a couple of handfuls of your favourite berries
Remember that this is an overnight recipe, as the cheesecake tastes best when it has set in the fridge for a few hours.
- Preheat oven at 180°C.
- Blitz the biscuits to fine crumbs in a food processor or crush in a bag with a rolling pin.
- Stir in the melted butter and press this mixture into the base of a lined loose-bottomed 20cm cake tin.
- Put base in the fridge to set while you make the filling.
- Beat together the cream cheese and sugar.
- Add the lemon juice to loosen the mixture.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, add 1 egg at a time, followed by the lemon zest and vanilla.
- Beat in the crème fraiche and set aside.
- Take your biscuit base out of the oven and spread just a spoonful of filling over the base.
- Sprinkle the berries over this first layer then cover with the rest of the filling.
- Put in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
- It is ready when the centre is still wobbly but the sides have browned slightly and come away from the tin.
- Turn off the oven and leave to cool with the door open slightly.
- Once it has completely cooled, put your cheesecake in the fridge overnight.
To finish, I poured over the caramel au beurre salé and then dropped a handful of berries into the centre, which created a beautiful effect as the scarlet berry juice bled into the caramel. Et voila…
In honour of International Woman’s Day 2013, here is my idol and the queen of Rock & Roll, Tina Turner, with a 1965 performance of Fool in Love.