Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Honey Cheesecake, with a hint of Chocolate

If more than two years of the We Should Cocoa challenge has taught me anything, it is that I am no longer of the opinion that anything can be improved by the addition of chocolate. The idea for We Should Cocoa is that we should make something containing chocolate and an additional specified ingredient - a spice, fruit, nut or other flavour component. Over time, I've realised that I'm more of a purist than I thought, and although I've found new flavour combinations that I unexpectedly enjoy, I've also found a lot of combinations that just don't work for me.

 This month's challenge to use honey is a case in point. I tried to think of recipes where the flavour of the honey would be prominent, as that is surely the aim of the challenge - there's no point using an ingredient if you can't taste it in the finished article. There was the added problem that baking with large amounts of honey can be problematic too, as I found with a batch of biscuits that ended up like a lace curtain across the baking tray. The pieces tasted great, when I eventually got them to harden and set, but it was impossible to half-coat them in chocolate, which had been my intention.

Eventually, using leftovers from Easter, I decided to make a cheesecake, using chocolate coated oat biscuits for the base, and adding a chocolate sour cream layer on top. Unfortunately, although each component worked well on it's own (apart from a slightly soggy base!), the honey cheesecake mixture just didn't taste right with the two chocolate layers. It may just have been the particular honey I used - my current favourite is a Romanian Lime Blossom honey which has a distinctive citrus flavour, and I'm always wary of pairing citrus, other than orange, with chocolate.

I couldn't find a recipe for a cheesecake mixture which was exactly what I wanted, but in the end I used this recipe from Canadian Living as the basic inspiration. I had to reduce the quantities a little to accomodate the fact that I only had 400g cream cheese, and I cut back the honey even more - to 100g - as I didn't want it to be too sweet.

180g chocolate coated biscuits - I used IKEA Kakor Chocladflard (double chocolate crisps) but would have used chocolate coated hobnobs if these weren't sitting in my storecupboard approaching the use-by date!
90g melted butter
400g full fat cream cheese
100g Lime Blossom honey
2 medium eggs
60g sour cream
rind and zest of 1 small lemon
140ml tub sour cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
25g finely grated 100% cacao block
Use a 7" springform tin and cover the outside with several layers of aluminium foil, so that it can go into a bain-marie. Heat oven to 180C.
Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs, stir in the butter and use to make an even, compressed base in the springform tin. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool.
Beat the cream cheese with the honey, until smooth, then mix in the eggs, lemon and the 60g quantity of sour cream until well combined. Pour onto the crumb base and bake in a bain-marie for 45 minutes or until set but still wobbly. Remove from oven, but leave in bain-marie.
Combine the tub of sour cream with the sugar and grated cacao, spread over the cheesecake and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the oven door slightly and leave the cheesecake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and run a knife between the cheesecake and the sides of the tin (may help prevent cracking).
When the cheesecake is cooled to room temperature, refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. Don't cover the cheesecake until it is fully chilled as you may get condensation on the surface!

As I said earlier, apart from a soggy bottom in the centre of the cheesecake, each of the three parts were very good. The base was well flavoured with chocolate and oats, the cheesecake mixture was smooth with a hint of citrus alongside the honey flavour, and the set sour cream topping with added chocolate was delicious. They just didn't work together.

So, not a great success, but I was really pleased with the chocolate sour cream topping, which I'm sure to use again.

We Should Cocoa is a baking challenge started by Chele from Chocolate Teapot, and Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog. Each month a different ingredient is chosen to be paired with some form of chocolate in our cooking. This month's choice of honey was made by Choclette, who will be posting a round-up at the end of the month.


Alicia Foodycat said...

Lime blossom honey sounds lovely! This looks like an excellent cheesecake, but I do see what you mean about the flavours not working together properly.

Alicia Foodycat said...

... although it just occurs to me that toblerone is the perfect example of chocolate and honey working well together.

Suelle said...

True - I love Toblerone. It must be the citrus element then!

Katie said...

Looks a fabulous cheesecake. I love the idea of it being flavoured with honey. I bet that sweet creamyness works so well together. The texture looks perfect

Snowy said...

It's a great idea to use honey in a cheesecake, and lime blossom honey sounds delicious. I've found that if you're using honey in baking, it needs to have a good flavour or you can't taste it. Have found a local producer whose honey works really well.

Caroline said...

I know what you mean about honey and chocolate. I didn't really see anything that grabbed my fancy although I probably didn't look hard enough. It looks like a good cheesecake, and at least you found a good topping to use in future.

Choclette said...

Oh what a shame this flavour combination didn't work for you, your cheesecake looks quite striking with it's three distinct layers. It will be interesting to hear if any of the other entries appeal. Thank you so much for persisting with the challenge even when you are not convinced by the chosen ingredient.

Lime blossom honey sounds good. We've got a couple of limes just up the road from out bees - assuming they make it.