Ok so this is not technically a cheesecake in the traditional sense, as it contains no cheese – yep this is a cheese-free cheesecake. It does however still look like a cheesecake, taste like a cheesecake and contain lovely thick Greek yoghurt – which is still milk/dairy and as this forms the base of cheese, then I’m still calling this dessert cheesecake.
On my recent visit home to my parents I also managed to arrange to see some of my old friends. I was invited to dinner with one friend and her family and they have the most amazing garden complete with a vast array of homegrown fruits and vegetables. They put Tom and Barbara from The Good Life to shame. Homegrown tomatoes, cabbages, leeks, green beans, spring onions, beetroot, lettuce, cherries, apricots, apples, pears, quinces, gooseberries, blackcurrants and figs!! Figs! I didn’t know you could even grow figs in this country. I was in love with their garden and could have quite happily lived in there, snuggled under a bush, feasting on the delights. Sadly the figs weren’t ripe at the time of my visit but I did leave with an array of tomatoes and a huge bagful of freshly picked blackcurrants. I am so jealous and can’t wait to have my own garden so I can (attempt to) grow my own fruit and veg too.
I wanted to put the blackcurrants to good use and decided to use them to top a cheesecake. I adore cheesecake but don’t make it that often as unless you are having people round I find a whole cheesecake can be a bit rich for one person! As the warm weather has finally arrived I was also worried that cheesecake might be a bit too heavy for a summer dessert. I then remember the cheeseless yoghurt cheesecake I invented a few years back and decided to do the same again here. Using yoghurt rather than cream cheese makes for a lighter, softer and more summery cheesecake.
I wanted the blackcurrants to really stand out, so cooked them slightly and then used them as a topping for the cheesecake, rather than stirring them in. Fresh blackcurrants are amazing. They have such a distinctive sharp zingy flavour, that really is the essence of concentrated Ribena. It’s quite a sophisticated grown up fruit flavour, almost like a mature Port. It’s very unique and I loved how plump and juicy these currants were. I find pairing ginger with fresh zingy fruits always works well and so used some fiery stem ginger biscuits as my cheesecake base.
The finished cheesecake tasted amazing. The blackcurrants were the star of the show, becoming even more sweet and intensified in flavour after their bake in the oven. They retained their lovely juiciness and zing which then complimented the smooth and creamy yoghurt cheesecake, with its lightness and freshness. This was then finished with a little peppery ginger kick from the stem ginger biscuit base.
Oh it was so good, I ate far too much of it on the first day, but I just couldn’t stop myself going back for ‘just another small slice’ and then to ‘just neaten up the edges’. I drizzled each slice with some of the reserved blackcurrant juice which added extra glossy fruity goodness.
I’m convinced yoghurt cheesecakes are the way to go. They are lighter and fresher, meaning you can eat more of them without feeling guilty or bloated! A well known brand of full fat cream cheese has around 235 kcal and 22g fat per 100g whereas full fat Greek yogurt has only around 100 kcal and 5g fat per 100g. That’s less than half! Imagine what you could get it down to if you used low fat or 0% fat Greek yoghurt too. Now you really can have your (cheese)cake and eat it too!
Blackcurrant & Ginger Yoghurt Cheesecake
150g fresh or frozen blackcurrants
80g caster sugar
¼ tsp arrowroot or cornflour
Ginger Biscuit Base
150g gluten free stem ginger biscuits
500g full fat Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp cornflour
50g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Start by making the blackcurrant topping. Place the blackcurrants, sugar and water into a pan. Bring to a simmer and allow to bubble gently until the blackcurrants have released some of their juice and liquid has turned purple. Dissolve the arrowroot in a little water and add to the pan. Stir until combined and then remove from the heat. This will help thicken the liquid slightly. You can use cornflour, but this will turn it slightly cloudy.
Drain the syrup into one bowl and place the blackcurrants into another. Set aside to cool.
Make the biscuit base. Heat the oven to 180C. Line the base of a round 6 inch deep springform tin with baking paper.
Crush the ginger biscuits until they resemble fine crumbs. You can either do this in a food processor at place them into a bag and attack it with a rolling pin.
Melt the butter and stir in the biscuit crumbs. Mix until well combined and then tip into the base of the tin. Press the crumbs down well to form an even layer. (A good tip is to cover it with clingfilm and then press down with a potato masher, then remove the clingfilm)
Place the base into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. Then remove from the oven and set aside.
For the yoghurt cheesecake, take 1 tbsp of the yoghurt and mix it with the cornflour until you have a smooth paste. Mix this into the remaining yoghurt and stir well.
Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla and whisk together until you have a smooth, thick mix.
Pour the yoghurt mix over the ginger biscuit base and smooth the top.
Carefully spoon most of the blackcurrants (without their syrup) over the top of the cheesecake, making sure to scatter them into an even layer. They should stay on top.
Place the tin on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes.
It should be slightly risen, lightly golden brown and puffed around the edges. Give it a gentle shake and if it wobbles in the centre slightly then it’s cooked. If the whole top wobbles then leave it for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool at room temperature for 1½ hours before covering the top with clingfilm and placing in the fridge to chill and set for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight.
It may relax, sink back down and crack slightly on cooling, this is fine.
When ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the inside of the tin before carefully releasing from the tin.
Transfer to a plate and serve drizzled with some of the reserved blackcurrant syrup.Makes 1 x 6 inch yoghurt cheesecake.