Java plums, or jamun as we call it, takes me back to my classroom in 10th std. (it’s standard, not grade. Why do Indians call it ‘grade’? Unless they’ve changed it now). This was in Mangalore and it rained everyday during monsoons. I’d sit by the window and look out because day dreaming was a part of my own personal curriculum. There it was. A tall jamun tree studded with several bunches of the ripe plums. That’s it. That’s the image I have plastered in my mind of this fruit and what it reminds me of. A simpler time. A simpler place. I baked the cheesecake last evening and it rained this morning to make it all seem perfect. Last year I’d made cake with it and this time I wanted to use it in a cheesecake.
Can’t not love a good cheesecake, amirite? This one’s got a nice lemony zing to it and some pistachios for texture. It’s like sunshine on a plate with specks of pistachios adding that crunch. The first time I tried my hands on cheesecake, I altered the recipe I found on Joy of Baking. It was my go to website for all things baking. What I did this time, was add lemon juice and zest and top it with some pistachios that I already had. I’m not for one to buy extravagant ingredients to cook or bake with. But I got these nuts in a box as a gift a few months ago. Key to achieve the right consistency and texture of cheesecake is all in the amount of time that goes into baking it. A little less time in the oven and it won’t set, a little long and it’s dry. It has to be perfectly creamy, yet set enough to hold its shape well.
Marie biscuits – 6-7
Parle-G biscuits – 6-7
Melted butter – 1/4 cup
Cream cheese – 1 box (180 gms)
Fresh cream – 1/3 cup
Sugar – 1/3 cup (use caster or powdered)
Eggs – 2
Vanilla – 1 tsp
Lemon – zest and juice from one
Pistachios – handful crushed
Blitz the biscuits together in a mixer. Add melted butter and blitz some more, till it looks like sand from the beach.
Line your baking tin with parchment paper and tip the biscuit mixture into it.
Press it down and make sure you’ve covered every corner of the tin.
Now leave it in the fridge to chill, while you make the filling.
Whisk the cream cheese in a mixing bowl till it’s soft. Add sugar and whisk some more.
Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix it all well.
Add the juice of the lemon.
Whisk the fresh cream if it’s too thick in a small bowl so it doesn’t turn lumpy in the cream cheese mixture. Now add it to the mix and whisk well.
Get your crust out of the fridge and pour the batter on top of it.
Now gently top this batter with crushed pistachios.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 50 mins.
Let it cool in the oven with the door open for about an hour and then in the fridge for 2 more more hours.
Add more crushed pistachios if you’d like before slicing it up.
I remember watching a romcom, years ago, where Patrick Dempsey and his friend are about to have cream cheese swirl brownies. I wondered what that would be like, and it also opened me up to doing different things with brownies. I never got to try the cream cheese swirl ones because no one made it commercially and it wasn’t even made in bakeries or restaurants. I let it pass. But ever since I got my oven here in Gurgaon I’ve been trying out various brownies – mocha, bacon. It was time to give this one a shot. So, I did. They turned out pretty great and was a hit with friends and colleagues too. How could it not be? It’s like a mouthful of cheesecake AND brownie together!
I did look up recipes but all of them involved using cocoa powder and not chocolate. I went with my instincts and added the cream cheese element in my regular brownie batter itself. Thankfully, it worked.
Ingredients for the brownie:
1 cup dark chocolate chopped up
1/2 cup cold salted butter cut in pieces
3/4 cup brown sugar (or regular)
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
For the cream cheese swirl:
1 pack cream cheese (150 gms) at room temp
1/2 cup powdered white sugar
1. Mix all the ingredients for the cream cheese swirl together and keep aside.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter and whisk till smooth,
3. Add eggs and mix well.
4. Add vanilla and sugar and mix well.
5. Add the flour and fold it into the chocolate mixture.
6. Tip the brownie batter on to your baking tin and leave a few spoonfuls for the swirls.
7. On top of the brownie batter pour the cream cheese mixture.
8. Now add the remaining brownie batter spoon by spoon on different spots. Use a toothpick and run it all over the batter to create swirls.
9. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 mins at 180 C.
Let it completely cool off before cutting it up into pieces. Trust me, this is one heck of a dessert and really quite simple to make.