Whilst staying at my boyfriends house we came across some vanilla pods in his parent’s spice rack. I was intrigued as I had cooked with vanilla pods before and had always wanted to. I searched for a delicious recipe in which this ingredient was key and settled on a vanilla cheesecake topped with caramelised pineapple. The recipe was from Thomasina Miers’s Mexican Food Made Simple. The cheesecake tasted amazing especially the pineapple. The recipe can be found below along with some handy hints about baked cheesecakes.
Caramelising the pineapple
Vanilla Cheesecake with Pineapple Caramel
- 40g butter
- 140g hobnobs
- 225g caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornflour
- 750g cream cheese
- 6 large eggs, seperated
- one vanilla pod (the recipe calls for 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 150nl double cream
- 150ml sour cream
- pinch of sea salt
- zest of one lime
For the caramel
- a large knob of butter
- 200g fresh pineapple, cored and chopped into pieces
- a pinch of sea salt
- 225g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 150C. Lightly grease a 26cm springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper. To make the base melt the butter and whiz the biscuits in a food processor. Mix together and gently flatten on to the base of the tin. Put in the fridge to chill.
Meanwhile, mix the sugar and cornflour together. Beat in the cream cheese, egg yolks and vanilla extract with an electric whisk. Gradually add the crams, whisking as you do so. Finally add the salt and lime zest.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then fold them carefully into the cheese mixture with a large metal spoon. Pour on to the chilled base and bake in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cheesecake is golden on top. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake to completely cool in the oven and only then remove the baking powder.
For the caramel, first melt the butter in a hot pan and fry the pineapple until is is caramelised and golden, seasoning with the salt and 1 tsp of the sugar. Remove from the pan and add the rest of the sugar in its place together with 100ml water. When the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat right up until the sugar has turned a deep, dark golden colour.
Turn the heat down, add another 140ml water, watching for the caramel’s spitting and let it bubble for a few minutes so that the sugar dissolves again and the syrup thickens. Add the pineapple and serve drizzled over the cheesecake.
Top tips for this recipe:
- Don’t overcook the caramel! I was worried that it was too thin and watery so I boiled it a little too long. When it cooled it was very thick and sticky and I had to reheat it in order to get it on top of the cheesecake.
- Don’t undercook the cheesecake. Make sure that the top of the cheesecake is very golden and, although Thomasina says not to, open the over to check its “wobbliness”. I also made the mistake of turning the oven down as it was a fan oven but I think this was a mistake. I also only cooked it for an hour because I thought it was golden enough. These mistakes meant that I ended up with a perfectly cooked outer ring of a cheesecake but the centre of which was a tasty yet custard-like substance.