Christmas spiced cheesecake

Cheesecake is believed to have originated in ancient Greece, with historians believing cheesecake was served to the athletes during the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. However, cheese making can be traced back as far as 2,000 BC, with anthropologists having discovered cheese molds dating back to that period. The Romans spread cheesecake from Greece across Europe, and centuries later cheesecake appeared in America, immigrants bringing the recipes with them. 

Today, we find ourselves rummaging through our recipe boxes and books for that different Christmas dessert. It's always hard to resist cheesecake, and this recipe, with a touch of spice, is sure to hit the spot.

This spiced cheesecake recipe travels back in history to the ancient Greeks. It's very different, tantalising to our taste buds, and sure to be a big hit over Christmas and New Year! 

Serves 10

Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 55 minutes | Degree of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 200g digestive biscuits (or granita biscuits), broken into chunks
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 300g cream cheese, softened
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 350ml crème fraiche
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 250g strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 orange, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoon flaked almonds, toasted 

Method

Step 1

  • Preheat the oven to 150C
  • Line a round, 20cm tin (with a removable base) with baking paper and set aside. 

Step 2

  • Place the digestive biscuits in a food processor and blitz until fine crumbs form
  • Add the melted butter and blitz again to combine
  • Place the crumbs into the baking tin and press evenly onto the base to form a smooth surface
  • Transfer into the fridge while you prepare the filling. 

Step 3

  • In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, caster sugar, flour and spices
  • Stir in the crème fraiche, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest until the mixture is combined
  • Pour the mixture in the tin, and carefully place in the oven (onto the lowest shelf)
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the cheesecake becomes firm around the edges, but still has a slight wobble in the centre
  • Turn off the oven, and leave the cheesecake to cool completely inside
  • Once cooled, transfer into the fridge to chill for 3 hours or overnight. 

Step 4

  • Place the sliced strawberries, orange juice, brandy, and icing sugar in a bowl and toss to combine
  • Set aside for 5 minutes. 

Step 5

  • To serve, remove the chilled cheesecake from the tin and transfer it onto a serving plate
  • Top with the marinated strawberries and scatter over the flaked almonds.

Acknowledgements

Cheesecake background story: Mary Bellis, Inventors Expert
Recipe and image: Western Star − November 2014 | www.taste.com.au