Death by Chocolate Cherry Cream Pie

I have been doing my best lately to be a bit more health-conscious.  Having spent the best part of this year totally immersed in cooking lots of rich, buttery, salty food (a.k.a. ‘fine dining’), taking a step back and making a concerted effort to eat better seemed like an appropriate summer resolution.

However, there have been some notable set backs.  Like this chocolate cherry cream pie.  Yes, all those things, together.  In a pie.  I brought this along to a friend’s dinner party recently and accidentally put everyone into a food coma and lugged myself home with a renewed commitment to leafy greens.  

Having said that, it was pretty tasty, so do give it a go.  After all, life really is too short not to eat pie and sometimes an indulgence is just what the doctor ordered.  Just maybe serve a salad first.

By the by, heart-shaped dish, below, was a birthday gift from my cousins and is made by the Swedish company, Bruka.

Chocolate Cherry Cream Pie
 as ludicrously decadent as it sounds…

You will need:

Pastry:
200g flour
35g cocoa
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
110g butter, fridge cold and cut into cubes
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Filling:
200g cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
60g caster sugar
200ml double cream
Cherry or raspberry jam (I used sour cherry jam, you could also make your own compote*)
1 punnet black cherries, pitted
Small bar of very dark chocolate

Method:

1.  Sift flour and cocoa into a large bowl.  Add the sugar and salt.

2.  Work in the butter to consistency of breadcrumbs, either by transferring to a magimix or by hand.

3.  Add yolks, cream and vanilla and mix well.  Bring dough together on work surface, shape into a flat round, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate.  If dough seems very dry and like it won’t come together add a little more cream (1/2 teaspoons at a time)- be careful not to add too much cream, though, it should not be sticky or it will be impossible to work with. 

4.  Preheat oven to 200 C.  Dust work surface liberally with cocoa.  Roll out pastry to the thickness of 1/2 cm.  Line a x cm pastry or flan tin.  A loose-bottomed cake tin will also do.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.  

5.  Blind bake your pastry case- approx 15 min** and allow to cool completely.  Meanwhile, make your filling.  Beat cream cheese with vanilla and sugar.  Add cream and whisk to form soft peaks. Refrigerate until needed.

6.   To assemble, spread jam over the base of the pastry case.  Add the cream cheese mixture.  Arrange cherries over the top and finally grate over some dark chocolate. 

* Simply pit a large handful of cherries and place in a pan over a low heat with a little lemon juice and sweeten to your liking.  Simmer until soft and oozy. 

**At the risk of sounding patronising, but just in case- Place a crumpled circle of baking parchment into the case/on top of the pastry.  Fill with beads, beans, lentils, rice, whatever you have to hand.  Bake in the oven until pastry is almost cooked and the sides have set.  Remove the parchment and beads/beans/lentils/rice/whatever you have to hand and continue to bake until bottom has cooked too.  The exact timing of this will depend on your oven and thickness of the pastry.

 

Easter lunch

For Easter lunch with my family back in Sweden I served a roast leg of lamb,  sticky garlic roast potatoes, bean gratin and some of my grandmother’s home-made bread.  And plenty of red wine, of course.   The leg of lamb was a bit tricky to track down, but I managed to find one in Östermalms Hallen.  Pierced with garlic and rosemary and then slow-cooked, the meat goes really tender and releases plenty of juices for gravy. 

I haven’t made cheesecake in ages and had developed a bit of a craving.  There are very few things that go with a cup of coffee as well as a really decadent cheesecake.  And although there is a time and a place for the baked variety, I prefer the unbaked New York version.  It also works particularly well if you are entertaining for a large crowd as it doesn’t need to go in the oven, which may well be overloaded already.  

This one has a little bit of what you fancy for one and all- soft, sweet fruit, bitter chocolate and a great crunchy, buttery biscuit base (old news by now, but I couldn’t resist).  Because we are nowhere even remotely close to raspberry season in Sweden, I used the frozen variety.  This means that once they are added, the cream cheese mixture goes quite cold, so when you pour in the melted chocolate, it solidifies.  Keep stirring and you’ll get little flecks of chocolate.  I like this Stracciatella-effect and decided to make it a bit of a feature.  You could, of course, exercise a bit more patience and wait for your raspberries to defrost a bit (or, if making this in the summer, use the fresh kind- although, beware, this will make for a much pinker cake).  However, I think this version is a delight and would heartily recommend it.

Think about the kind of chocolate you want to use- the higher the cocoa content, the more intense, even slightly bitter, the flavour.  Adjust accordingly with the sugar content or, if you have a really sweet tooth, use milk chocolate (and about half the sugar content). 

Raspberry Stracciatella Cheesecake 

You will need:
180 g digestive biscuits
75 g melted butter
150 g chocolate (min. 60% cocoa solids)
300 g cream cheese
200 ml double cream
100 g sugar 
150 g frozen raspberries 
chocolate melted, to serve (optional)

Method:

1.  Start with the biscuit base.   Crumble the biscuits using your favourite method- either bashing in a bag with a rolling pin or using a food processor.  Add the melted butter and mix to distribute evenly, until all of the crumbs have absorbed the fat and changed colour slightly.

2.  Line a spring form tin with the crumbs and use your knuckles to push into place.  Put in the fridge while you carry on with the rest of the cake.  

3.  If you have a microwave, pop 100g of the chocolate into a bowl and blast it until melted.  Otherwise, melt in a glass bowl over simmering water.

4.  In a medium sized bowl, whip the cream cheese, cream and sugar together until combined and smooth. 

5.  Add the frozen raspberries and gently stir to evenly distribute.  Swirl the chocolate through the mixture, some of it will harden slightly when it comes into contact with the frozen raspberries, but this is what you want, keep mixing.

6.  Scoop the chocolate-raspberry-cream-cheese-mixture into the cake tin, over the biscuit base.  Use a knife to evenly distribute and then put back into the fridge for at least 4 hours.

7.  To serve, melt the remainder of the chocolate and smooth over the cake and leave to set for a few minutes to set.  Alternatively, grate chocolate over the cake and decorate with some fresh raspberries.