It was an idea for a lime green cheesecake that landed me a newspaper column in 1993. My home town's rugby league team, The Canberra Raiders a.k.a. 'The Green Machine', were looking to be strong contenders in the semi finals that year and I had been chatting with the editor of our local newspaper about fun ways of generating community support for the players. He loved the concept, and the rest is history.
Although only a boy at the time, my sure-footed son played as a wing or winger representing a junior team with the West Belconnen Leagues Club. He was a great little player and won numerous 'best and fairest' awards. His interest in the game was spurred on by the heroes of the day. Legendary guys like Mal Meninga, Gary Belcher, Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley and Bradley Clyde, among others, who went on to represent Australia in the international games, as well as their home teams in the State of Origin matches. For me, those 'were the days' of Australian rugby league and I'm not sure we'll see anything quite like that again. Along with many other fans, I lost interest after the Super League fiasco in the mid 90s, and don't have a clue who is playing nowadays.
But, lets get back to cheesecake, which unlike football has long been a favourite of mine. Here on Good Things, I've prepared a superb New York cheesecake via Skype as part of a fun #bakedate with a girlfriend; shared recipes for Lyndey Milan's Greek-inspired cheesecake with muscatels and a fabulous Israeli ricotta cheesecake from the Monday Morning Cooking Club. I've also reviewed a cookbook dedicated entirely to this delicious topic.
Mangoes and limes were on special at my local Aldi supermarket recently, so I stocked up and also threw some dairy goodness (in the form of cream cheese, mascarpone and double cream) into my basket. For a while now I've been wanting to develop a recipe for a deconstructed cheesecake style dessert that didn't involve the scattering of biscuit crumbs onto a plate alongside a smear of cream and a shaving of fruit. I knew this dessert of mine would look quite special in the bulbous glasses that I bought from that kitchenware store in Byron Bay... and so I set my mind to creating it. First, I quickly consulted my friend, Adam Moore, who is a senior executive chef with Campbell Arnott's. He's my go-to guy whenever I have 'cheffie' questions about my culinary whims. Chef said 'yes', he thought it would work.
Several taste tests later, I can confirm that it most certainly did. In fact, the flavour and texture combination is outstanding if not a little indulgent. Here is my original recipe, it's a keeper. Enjoy xo
GINGER AND MANGO CHEESECAKE DESSERT
Depending on the size of the glasses you use, this will serve 6, possibly 8.
12 (160g) Ginger Nut biscuits*
For the filling:
250g light cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons caster sugar
300ml double cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder**
1 tablespoon vanilla bean syrup**
juice of 2 large limes
1 teaspoon finely chopped lime zest
a little milk, only if required
3 teaspoons baby stem ginger in syrup, chopped
3-4 ripe mangoes, the flesh chopped into cubes
First you need to turn the biscuits into crumbs. For store bought Ginger Nuts, please do not use your food processor, as you risk breaking it on these hard biscuits. You can either pop them into a double layered plastic bag and hammer the living daylights out of them with a kitchen mallet; OR pound them to a crumb using a large mortar and pestle. The effort is well worthwhile, please trust me on this. Set the biscuit crumbs aside. (Note, don't mix the crumbs with butter etc).
Place the cream cheese and caster sugar into a large Pyrex bowl and whisk until smooth, then fold in the mascarpone, followed by the double cream. Be gentle with this mixture as you don't want to whip it into too thick a texture. It should be smooth and creamy. Now fold in the vanilla bean powder and the vanilla bean syrup, together with the lime juice and zest. Check the flavour and add more lime juice if you feel it needs more 'kick'. Refrigerate this mixture until you are ready to assemble your desserts.
Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the biscuit crumbs into the base of your glasses, dividing evenly into each glass. Carefully spoon the cream cheese mixture over the top of the biscuit crumbs, once again dividing it evenly into each glass. Note: should the cream cheese mixture be a little too firm, you can add a dash of milk or a little extra vanilla syrup to loosen it up.
Decorate the top of the dessert with chopped mango flesh and finish with the chopped baby stem ginger. Chill the desserts in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. The Ginger Nut biscuit base will soften after a few hours or overnight. The desserts should be covered if storing in the fridge overnight, but are perfectly delicious the following day.
* Ginger Nuts are a tasty old fashioned store-bought biscuit, quite tough in texture. If you have time, make your own.
** I love to use Heilala Vanilla but am also taste testing Essential Ingredient's bourbon vanilla powder.
Tell me dearest readers, are you fond of cheesecake? What's your favourite? Have you ever been a fan of any kind of sport in your part of the world? Do tell.
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I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.