A couple of weeks ago I had some damson syrup left over from making a crumble, and in a greedy moment, I stirred it into a 50/50 mixture of mascarpone and plain yogurt. The resulting, absolutely delicious, super-quick pudding got me thinking of more complicated concoctions, and this damson cheesecake was born. The creamy filling of the cheesecake is lovely and light with the addition of lovely airy egg white, and its sweet vanilla flavour is a lovely complement to the rich, tangy flavour of the damsons. If you want to make it, get going now because the damson season won’t be with us for much longer. Mind you, I think it would be equally yummy made with late-season plums or some juicy blackberries – you will just need a bit less sugar when you make the fruit purée.
- 300g damsons
- 50ml water
- 100g caster sugar (you can add more if you find fruit pureé a little sour)
- 250g mascarpone
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- a few drops of vanilla essence
- 1 egg
- 150 ml double cream
- 200g digestive biscuits (I really like the Doves Farm brand)
- 60g butter
- Put the damsons in a saucepan with the water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook gently for 6-8 minutes, until the fruit is very soft.
- Put the damsons in a sieve over a bowl, and use a wooden spoon to press the fruit through the sieve, until you are left with pretty much just the stones.
- Add 100g sugar to the warm purée, and stir until the sugar is dissolved – taste to check the purée is sweet enough for you, add a little more sugar if not. Set to one side to cool.
- Base line a 23cm (9″) round flan/quiche tin. I used a metal tin, but this did turn the fruit blue (!) where it came into contact with the metal, so if you have a ceramic/stoneware dish, that might be a better choice.
- Crush the biscuits into a fine crumb. There are various ways of doing this. A food processor is quick but involves a lot of washing up. Alternatively, you can put the biscuits in a sturdy plastic bag and whack it with a rolling pin (but don’t hit it too hard or you will get crumbs everywhere) or you can put the biscuits in a roomy mixing bowl and crush with a blunt instrument (like the end of a rolling pin or a large pestle).
- Melt the butter over a low heat then stir into the crushed biscuits. Spread the biscuit mix over the base of your lined tin and press down firmly. Put the tin in the fridge so that the base can set.
- Put the mascarpone, the 2 tbsp sugar and the vanilla in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until the mascarpone softens.
- Separate the egg, adding the yolk to the mascarpone, and putting the white into another (very clean) bowl. Beat the egg yolk into the mascarpone.
- Lightly whip the double cream in another bowl – don’t over-whip, it needs to be the consistency of a light custard, where you can just see a trail of cream when you lift the whisk out of the bowl.
- Gently fold the cream into the mascarpone – again, be very sensitive, you want to keep the mixture as light as possible.
- Using a clean whisk, whip the egg white until it forms stiff peaks and then fold gently into the mascarpone and cream mixture, using a metal spoon.
- Very gently, stir about one third to one half of the cooled (it’s important not to put hot sauce into the cream mix!) damson sauce into the cream mixture. I went for a ripple effect, rather than a thorough mix, but feel free to go with the flow here.
- Chill until ready to eat, and serve with more damson sauce poured over, and a sprinkle of toasted almonds too.