Vanilla Cheesecake with Blueberry Compote- Recipe

It's Shavuot tomorrow, and for some reason us Jewish people like to eat cheesecake on Shavuot. Well, not just cheesecake- lots of dairy stuff. Shavuot celebrates the Torah being given to the Jews. I have no idea what this has to do with eating dairy. All I know is it's cheesecake time, and by Jove that's good enough for me.

This recipe, which uses low fat curd cheese (although you can't tell it's low fat!) is a slight adaptation of a recipe my grandma gave to me, and it's brilliantly simple to make. It's one of only two cheesecake recipes I use regularly (the other being Nigella Lawson's London cheesecake, which I only make when I don't mind the calories and can bother doing the bain-marie method).

The curd cheese gives the cheesecake a lighter, slightly (but pleasantly) grainy texture rather than the dense velvet of a cream cheese or mascarpone cheesecake.  In my efforts to reduce the fat content further, I used light Digestive biscuits and low fat spread- so really the majority of the 'bad stuff' comes from the sugar. Still, it's heaps better than having full-fat-everything, and you don't notice the cut calories at all in terms of flavour.

Here, I've paired the cheesecake with a blueberry compote (which is just blueberries simmered with  a bit of sugar, a dash of water and a sprinkling of cornflower to thicken the juices). The sweet tartness of the compote goes so well with the smooth, textured creaminess of the cheesecake. A quick heads up: as with most baked cheesecakes, you'll need to make this the day before to give it a chance to chill in the fridge overnight.

Ingredients for Cheesecake:

-300g Digestive biscuits
-100g butter/ low fat spread

-680g curd cheese
-225g caster sugar
-4 eggs
-1tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)

Ingredients for Blueberry Compote:

-200g (1 punnet) blueberries
-2tbsp caster sugar
-3tbsp water
-1tsp cornflour


1) Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/ Gas Mark 3, and grease and line the bottom of an 8" or 9" springform cake pan with baking parchment (I used 9"- an 8" would result in a higher cheesecake).

2) To make the crust, place the biscuits a few at a time into a ziplock bag and crush them into fine crumbs with a rolling pin. Or, if you have a food processor (lucky you), whizz them up in that.

3) Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan, and add to your biscuit crumbs in a bowl, mixing thoroughly until well incorporated.

4) Tightly and evenly pack your damp crumb mixture into the bottom of your cake pan, using the back of a big spoon to flatten it out. I like to put the crust into the fridge to firm up at this point, but you don't have to.

5) To make the cheesecake filling, beat the eggs in a large bowl and then add the curd cheese, sugar and vanilla. Don't whisk it too vigorously, or the mixture will become bubbly and you'll get cracks in the cheesecake later after baking- I just gently stir it with a balloon whisk.

(This is what 680g of curd cheese looks like.)

6) Pour the filling on top of your crust, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes- don't be tempted to bake it for any longer, even if it seems overly jiggly in the middle.

7) Once 30 minutes has passed, switch the oven off and leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven: this helps the cheesecake set without overcooking and also ensures the cheesecake doesn't cool too fast (which is another way cracks can form). Just leave the oven door closed and get on with something else for a couple of hours.

8) Once completely cool, pop it in the fridge to chill and completely firm up overnight.

9) To make the blueberry compote, place all the ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer for about ten minutes, stirring gently to avoid breaking up the berries too much. Cool, and you're done!

10) Serve the cheesecake as you like: either spoon the compote straight onto the top of it before cutting, or if some of the people you're serving it to prefer it plain, just spoon a little onto individual slices to the people who want the blueberry goodness.

Chag sameach! (Happy festival!)


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