Mascarpone & Matò cheesecake
with a Balsamic & strawberry compote
I’m an addict when it comes to cheesecake, baked versions and set in the fridge overnight versions, with or without fruit, biscuit base or not, there really is a plethora of contrasting styles dividing fans of this dessert. With the growing number of street-food style events here in Barcelona one really is spoiled for choice on what seems to be a weekly basis and just as equally inspired. Having tasted so many with soggy bases or those that skate across your plate trying to escape that pesky fork, heavy fillings that sit in your stomach until the next morning and fruit toppings that overwhelm all the hard work that went into creating that beautiful creamy filling. I had good reason to create my own, albeit subjectively speaking, perfect Sunday afternoon cheesecake.
A traditional Italian recipe would use Ricotta cheese, I got my hands on some of the Catalan equivalent, Mató. Mató is normally served at breakfast here with a healthy dollop of honey, so I really hope my Catalan friends are going to enjoy this new found use for their local cheese. My objective was to create a filling that was light and fluffy but without losing the creamy texture of the cheese. I love the contrast of textures and flavours so I decided to go with the classic digestive biscuit base and strawberries are in season already here in Catalunya which go great with the cheese. I only used a small amount of Vanilla in the filling so as not to overpower the other flavours. The Balsamic vinegar adds just the right amount of acidity to really give another dimension….such a shame that it’s going to be polished off so soon! The Matò worked just as well as Ricotta would in this recipe, a great taste of Catalunya in such a versatile dessert.
Strawberries from Maresme on the Catalan coast
Worth a quick mention is that if you want a larger amount of filling double the proportions for all but the sugar which you could increase to 150g, next time I will try this for a greater filling to base ratio, you really can’t get enough of that silky texture… After all, indulgence is allowed on the Weekend right?!
What you’ll need
For the filling:
250g mascarpone cheese
250g mató cheese
100g caster sugar
1/4 vanilla pod seeds or 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
10g corn flour
3 eggs separated
1/4 tsp salt
For the base:
200g of digestive biscuits
30g caster sugar
65g unsalted butter or ghee
For the compote:
250g of fresh strawberries
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (to taste)
1. Firstly make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before you start, cold cheese especially could result in a lumpy filling. Drain any liquid from the two cheeses and grease the inside of your 24cm springform pan or as I did line the bottom with baking (grease-proof) paper.
2.While crushing the biscuits with a pestle and mortar melt the butter gently in a pan, afterwards add both to a mixing bowl with the sugar and mix thoroughly to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom of the baking tin.
3. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/gas mark 4. Using a whisk beat the cheeses, sugar and cornstarch until a smooth batter forms. Add one egg yolk at a time and slowly whisk into the mixture, this will help to avoid any cracks forming while baking.
4. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and add to the batter whisking in gently. In a separate bowl (preferably metal) whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, by hand this took me roughly 5 minutes and here is a great visual guide to give you an idea of what you’re looking to achieve. http://www.thekitchn.com/a-visual-guide-soft-peaks-firm-115557
5. Add the egg whites to the batter mixture and using a spatula fold together in an upwards motion to keep the air in the egg whites, don’t let all that hard work go to waste!
6. Spoon the batter on to the base and even out to the sides. Place the tin in the oven and bake for around 60-70 minutes or until the surface has a nice golden colour. You can test the cake using a toothpick or thin knife and pierce the middle carefully, it should come out clean. It’s ready! Leave the oven door ajar for 20 minutes while the cake rests then take it out to cool after which you can wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.
7. While the cake is baking dehull the strawberries and slice in halves or quarters. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar to a pan and bring to a boil until the sugar has melted, then reduce to a simmer until the strawberries have almost fully dissolved and the sauce has become dark and syrupy. The strawberries should only have a slight texture left.
8. Once the cake has chilled fully you can add the compote so that the surface is covered thinly and to the edges. If you doubled the proportions for the filling you could also do the same with the compote, this cake is all about the right quantity of every flavour and texture, you will want to make this every weekend I can guarantee you.