This year is turning out to be an amazing year for the hedgerows. The blackberries have obviously appreciated all the rain and sunny interludes we have had and are large, juicy and abundant. I have discovered all sorts of over-laden crab apple trees I didn’t notice last year: all colours, shapes and sizes. The sloes look ripe already even though country wisdom has it that they are not ready until after the first frost. I have taken to picking a small bag of blackberries on my way back from a run and so have a steady supply in the fridge for smoothies and crumbles. For larger projects, like jam, we go out for a “walk” armed with tubs and it doesn’t take long to fill them. Although if you can eat them at the same speed as you can pick them, like my son, it can take a little longer.
We had some lovely friends for dinner over the wet bank holiday weekend and I wanted to make a blackberry cheesecake: I thought it would make a good alternative to a more summery fruit, like raspberries or strawberries, and I love the idea that we went out to gather the fruit especially for it. The cheesecake came out the colour I was hoping for; a very retro purple (which reminds me of the 80s, for some reason) and seemed to be a hit. Particularly with my blackberry-loving son, who managed to sneak three pieces when I wasn’t paying proper attention…
250g digestive biscuits
500g mascarpone or cream cheese
100g icing sugar
300ml double cream
1 sachet or 4 leaves gelatine or vegetarian equivalent
Blackberries to decorate
Line the base of a 9″ loose-based tin with baking parchment.
Put the digestive biscuits into a large, clean plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until they are in fine crumbs. Tip into a bowl.
Melt the butter. Pour over the digestives and mix well.
Tip into the prepared tin and distribute evenly. Press down with the back of a spoon to make sure that the biscuit base is very compact and even. Put the base into the fridge to chill while you are making the filling.
To make the filling:
Heat the blackberries gently until the juice is running and the blackberries are soft and breaking up.
Put a sieve over a bowl and tip the blackberry mixture into the sieve. Use the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much juice as you can: you will be left with the fibre and tiny pips in the sieve, which can be discarded.
Put the soft cheese and icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix together using the whisk attachment. When it is fully mixed add the blackberry purée and beat again.
Add about two thirds of the cream to the mixture and mix again to incorporate it. Do not whisk for too long or the cream may become over-beaten.
Put the remainder of the cream into a small saucepan. Heat until it is almost, but not actually, boiling, and add the gelatine, mixing well to make sure it all melts properly.
Allow the gelatine mixture to cool a little (enough to not melt the cream and cheese mixture, but not too much or the filling will set too rapidly) before adding it to the blackberry mixture and whisk it in.
Tip the blackberry mixture onto the biscuit base and level. Make sure the mixture reaches the sides properly or you may get gaps when you remove the side of the tin.
Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate to set.
When the cheesecake has set, decorate the top with blackberries, however you wish:
When you are ready to serve the cheesecake, carefully remove the side of the tin and the baking parchment from the base and put on a plate or cake stand.
This cheesecake is best served (and stored) chilled and will keep for several days, although you may start to notice some discolouration in the blackberry mixture after a day or two.