Sometimes in life you come across little brick walls. Barricades that have ‘dangerous’, ‘do not cross’ or ‘don’t even try it, you idiot’ written all over them. At times like this there is something in my head that automatically goes ‘Oh, you think so, do you?’. I’m a sucker for a bit of a challenge, however misguided it may be (and believe me, it often is).
Whilst having a conversation with friends one day we ended up talking about food and gin (not exactly rare topics of conversation in my life) and eventually we ended up on cheesecake. I then – somewhat stupidly – wondered aloud whether or not these two great things could be brought together. There were some uneasy faces round the table, and some ‘I don’t really know, but it sounds delicious’ remarks. Clearly some research and, perhaps, an experiment was in order.
The only problem was that everywhere I searched was utterly devoid of recipes (including the know-it-all, Mr Google). When advice was proffered it was always the same: ‘alcohol doesn’t work in cheesecakes unless it’s a creamy or really thick liqueur’. Essentially, don’t do it!
I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like a challenge.
Having pondered the predicament a little I turned – I’m not entirely sure why, apart from the obvious that I didn’t think – to my cheesecake-loathing friend, Mel. After the obvious ‘why are you asking me?‘ [yes, that’s the publishable version] remarks she suggested using mascarpone (as opposed to cream cheese) as “it can take more alcohol“. Clearly the most important factor here.
I decided at the last minute to alter the made-up recipe a bit, to make it a gin and lime cheesecake, but with a bit of tonic in the base, so it popped a little when it crunched. I was also – probably not particularly surprising for those who know me – fairly liberal with the gin. I didn’t really measure it, I just kept adding it into the mix until it tasted about right, so the recipe below can take more gin than it suggests. Beware though, it matures a little more once the mixture has settled – you have been warned.
There was no way of telling how this was going to work out, but I think it was a win (gin win, some might say). It will definitely be going into my brown book of ‘recipes to make again’.
Gin and Lime Cheesecake
This recipe is a The Usual Saucepans original! It’s great to make if you’ve friends coming over and you won’t something a little different. Anyone that tells you ‘gin can’t go in cheesecake!’ is a liar. Fact. It serves about 8 people – or two, if they’re very greedy and have a couple of days to lose. I make mine in a springform cake tin, so make it easier to get out when it’s set.
8 digestive biscuits
6 tbsp caster sugar
80g unsalted butter
1 shot of tonic (optional).
7 tbsp icing sugar
Juice of 1 lime
zest of half to the whole lime (depending on taste/gin levels)
½ tsp vanilla extract
600 ml double cream
25ml gin (or more depending on taste).
Put butter and sugar into a heavy-based saucepan and heat gently. Crush the biscuits roughly using a food processor (or the end of a rolling pin) and add them in, removing the pan from the heat and stirring gently. Add the tonic in three lots, ensuring that the base doesn’t go mushy – it should be slightly crumbly.
In a large bowl, gently stir the mascarpone to loosen it and then add the lime juice and part of the jest to it along with the icing sugar and vanilla. Pour the gin in slowly, ensuring that the mixture doesn’t get too runny (if it does, either stop adding gin or add mascarpone – the decision is yours).
Whip the cream into firm peaks, including the rest of the zest, before gently folding into the mascarpone mixture, ensuring the mixture stays fairly solid.
Put both the crumbly base and the gin-infused cheese-mix into a dish and chill in the fridge. If you are feeling very adventurous you can line ramekins with cling film and put the mixture in upside down (i.e. base at the top) so that you can tip them onto plates to serve.
Enjoy with friends.