Green Gooseberry, Jelly Cheesecake and Red Gooseberry Compote

Recipe from Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc.

The Kew garden has enabled me to discover many British heritage fruit and vegetables, which had been unfamiliar to me. The tartness of a gooseberry is a strange concept for a Frenchman but the challenge of trying to conquer its sourness and create flavoursome dishes from it was attractive. I must modestly admit that I feel this cheesecake is a triumph and I’m now happy to adopt these northern green berries in my cooking. This dessert is based on two varieties of gooseberry – the gooseberry jelly, made using the green heritage variety Invicta, is dry and acidic; the accompanying compote is made from a hybrid red variety, Hinnomaki, which is much sweeter and I found it didn’t need any sugar. This recipe has allowed me to celebrate the revival of an almost forgotten British culinary treasure; I feel a much better Frenchman for it.

Goosebchcake MAIN IMAGE

Ingredients Required

For the oat biscuit base
80g Rye flour
100g Wholemeal flour
80g Unsalted butter
2g Bicarbonate of soda
40g Caster sugar
3g Salt
95g Jumbo oats
1 Egg, beaten
For the filling
300g Cream cheese
130g Crème fraîche
1 tbsp Vanilla Purée or good-quality vanilla extract
1/4 Lemon juice, plus an extra drop for the egg whites
2 Gelatine leaves
100g Caster sugar
5 tsp Water
4 Medium egg whites
For the gooseberry jelly
200g Green gooseberries, washed, stalks removed and cut in half
10g Caster sugar
1 1/4 Gelatine leaves, softened in water then drained
50g water
For the topping
10 -12 Firm green gooseberries, stalks removed
For the gooseberry compote
500g Red gooseberries, trimmed
50g Caster sugar (optional)

Cooking Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Have ready a 20 x 4cm pastry ring or cake tin.

For the oat biscuit base

Put the flours, butter, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl. With your fingertips, crumble the ingredients together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the oats and egg and mix well, then knead until it comes together.

With a rolling pin, roll the biscuit mixture out between two sheets of baking parchment to a thickness of 5mm. Lift on to a baking tray and remove the top piece of paper. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 2 minutes. Using the pastry ring or cake tin, press down into the biscuit, cutting through the bottom. Leave to cool completely before using for the cheesecake. Remove the excess biscuit from around the ring; this can be used to crumble on top, if wished.

For the filling

In a large bowl mix the cream cheese, crème fraîche, vanilla purée or extract and lemon juice together. Place the gelatine in a small saucepan with 2 teaspoons of water, melt over a gentle heat to a liquid. Once slightly cool, briskly whisk into the cream mixture. In a small saucepan dissolve the sugar in the water, bring to a boil and continue to heat to 121°C.

Meanwhile, in a food mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or using an electric hand whisk and a bowl, whisk the egg whites, adding just a single drop of lemon juice at the beginning. Whisk to soft peaks. Turn the whisk to a medium speed. The best technique for making this kind of Italian meringue is to pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl in a single thread so that it mixes beautifully. Otherwise the speed of the whisk will spin the sugar and solidify it over the whisk and bowl. Continue to whisk on a medium speed for a further 5 minutes until the mixture is glossy – the hot syrup will partially cook the egg white making it stable. Rest the base of the bowl in a bowl of iced water and continue to whisk by hand until the mixture is completely cool. When cool, add half the egg whites to the cream filling mixture and briskly beat with a whisk until smooth, then add the remaining egg whites and fold together. Place the ring with the biscuit base on to a baking tray or plate and pour the filling into the ring, leaving a gap of 5mm from the top of the ring and level the surface flat using a palette knife or the back of a spoon. Refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the mixture to firm up before adding the gooseberry jelly.

For the gooseberry jelly

Put the gooseberries into a bowl and macerate with the sugar for 15 minutes. Transfer to a small saucepan on a medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes, covered with a lid, then pour into a blender, with the softened gelatine and water and blend on full speed for 1 minute. To make sure the purée is smooth, pass it through a fine sieve into a bowl, forcing it through using the back of a ladle. Rest the base of the bowl over a bowl of iced water to cool, stirring all the time, and once the mixture starts to thicken, spoon it over the chilled cheesecake.

For the topping

Top and tail the gooseberries and cut each one crossways into slices 2mm thick. Arrange 16 slices of gooseberries around the edge of the cheesecake on top of the jelly. Chill the cheesecake overnight or until set completely.

For the compote

cut the gooseberries in half. Taste one – if sweet enough, there is no need to macerate them, if they are a little sour, put in a medium mixing bowl with the sugar and leave to macerate for 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium saucepan on a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes with a lid on, stewing them at a gentle bubble; stir from time to time to prevent the compote catching on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely, taste and adjust with a splash of water if it’s too acidic or a little sugar, if needed.

Serve the cheesecake with the compote alongside for your guests to help themselves.


Kew Book 120THUMB

Recipe from Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc published by Headline Ltd.

Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2015.

Photograph © Jean Cazals 2015.