Cheesecake- yum! Brandy- Yum! Apricots YUM! Combine all these delicious things with some Saffron, Cinnamon and Cardamom and you have a delicious lightly spiced Baked Cheesecake with Brandied Saffron Apricots.
Start with a basic baked cheesecake recipe, a recipe you can use many times over and vary the toppings at your whim. Add a sticky reduction of brandied apricots flavoured with saffron, cinnamon and cardamom, and you have a rich, sticky, sweet Cheesecake, perfect for a bit of colour on the table. Brandied apricots are very Christmassy and I served this cheesecake at a get together with friends pre-christmas.
Tips: Use a water-bath if you can. This is essentially to stop the cheesecake cracking as it cooks. You will need to aluminium foil wrap around the underneath and outside of the tin a few times, it needs to be completely waterproof so as to not let any water in. You need to do this before you do the biscuit base to avoid upsetting anything. Place the cheesecake tin in a casserole dish or similar that will fit it properly. Also, when you fill the water, only fill it 1/3 to 1/2 way up the outside of the aluminium wrap. Buy the wide roll aluminium if you can get it. The water-bath basically ensures the cheesecake doesn’t cook too quickly, and it both cooks and cools down slowly and evenly. If you doubt your abilities with making it 100% watertight, don’t use a water bath. Nobody wants a soggy bottomed cheesecake, it would be very heartbreaking. The best thing about this recipe is if you do get any cracks in the top you can disguise them with topping (one reason why a new york style cheesecake with a sour cream topping over the top is such a great recipe!)
With the biscuit crust, you don’t need to fill up to the top of the tin as i did, that’s just asking for trouble, fill about 3/4 of the way up. Alternatively, just use half as much biscuit mixture and do the base only- and use baking paper around the edges of the tin.
Cheesecake is done when there are virtually no wobbles when the cheesecake is jiggled.
Apricots are best placed on the cheesecake just prior to serving or spooned over the top of each slice once cut.
If you use a Gluten Free biscuit base- this recipe is gluten free as it does not call for any flour in the actual cheesecake. Lots of baked cheesecakes have some flour in them.
Desert is virtually alcohol free as brandy sauce is reduced on the stove and the alcohol content boils off.
- 500 grams Philadelphia Cream Cheese at room temperature
- 3 Eggs
- 3/4 Cup Caster Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 250 gram packet of plain biscuits (eg Milk Coffee)
- 125 grams Unsalted Butter, melted
- 250 grams Dried Apricots (natural if you can otherwise turkish will be fine but they are sweeter)
- 4 Tablespoons Brandy
- 1/2 teaspoon Saffron threads
- 1 Cups Caster Sugar
- 1 1/4 Cups Water
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 5-6 whole Cardamom pods, lightly crushed so pods open
- If you are using the water bath method, tightly wrap the base and sides of 20 cm springform tin with at least three layers of aluminium foil until 100% waterproof. Make sure there are no holes or gaps for water to seep in.
- Preheat oven to 140 degrees Celsius, Fan Forced.
- Using a food processor with sharp blade attachment, process biscuits until resembling fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process until combined.
- Using the side of a cup, distribute the crumbs evenly across the base and about 3/4 up the sides, pressing firmly so they hold their shape. Refrigerate until required.
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the room temperature Cream Cheese, Sugar and Vanilla until smooth and lump free. Add the eggs one by one and beat until smooth and thoroughly combined.
- Pour mixture into prepared springform tin and smooth the top with a spatula, try to ensure there are no air bubbles in the mixture.
- Bake in preheated oven for approx 60 minutes, time will vary depending on your oven. Cheesecake is cooked when it barely wobbles when gently jiggled.
- Leave to cool in the waterbath-in the oven- or if not using the water bath- cool down in the oven and only refrigerating once completely at room temperature (to prevent cracking)
- In a small bowl, place the apricots and Saffron threads. Pour over the brandy, stir through and leave covered in refrigerator until brandy is mostly absorbed. It's a good idea to do this overnight if planning ahead, or for at least two hours stirring frequently.
- Once brandy is mostly absorbed, in a small saucepan, place the sugar and water. Heat on medium heat until sugar is just dissolved, add the apricot mixture and all the saffron threads, along with the Cardamom and Cinnamon stick.
- Bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 15 minutes then remove the apricots and continue to simmer the liquid until reduced to a thick sticky consistency, being careful not to burn.
- Strain the saffron threads, cardamom and cinnamon out of the sauce and pour the strained sauce over the apricots again and leave in the refrigerator until cold and you are ready to garnish the cheesecake. This is best done just before serving, or garnishing each slice individually with a spoon of apricots and brandy sauce.