Nordic-Style Honey & Cardamom Cheesecake

Scandinavian sunshine - just in time for Spring!

This is almost like a cheesecake in design, but the filling is slightly different than your average cheesecake. I reckon it probably leans towards an egg custard tart in texture. Either way, it's an excellent twist on a cheesecake that is much lighter and silkier in the mouth. It's definitely a fresh take on your standard, weightier American cheesecake!

What makes this a Nordic creation is a combination of two things.

Firstly, the cheesecake base is not made out of Digestive/Graham Cracker biscuits, but from rye crackers! You might know of them as Ryvitas. This lends a much more complex sweetness than a usual cheesecake base. Hinted with ground ginger too, the depth of flavour brings an echo of gingerbread. Very sophisticated indeed!

Secondly, the cheesecake filling is infused with naturally flavoursome sweetness - honey. Scandinavians love honey - it gives a comforting sweetness that really hugs you, unlike plain ol' sugar. Scandinavians celebrate honey, so it was called for in this cheesecake!

Further to that, there is a strong spike of cardamom. I was interested to find when I visited Norway - Sweden, too - that cardamom is used quite heavily in baking. Normally I associate cardamom with Indian or Arabic savoury cooking, but somewhere in the Spice Trade, this fruity little spice made its way to Scandinavia and had made quite the impression. Not only to the Scandinavians use cardamom, but they uuuuuse it. I ate a honeybun in Stockholm that was encrusted with cardamom pips - there was enough cardamom on that one honeybun to flavour about 10 litres of korma sauce! Tasty though. In a non-curry way.

So here we have it: a distinctly Scandinavian taste. If you have a friend or are expecting visitor from that region of the world, I recommend you make this for them. They'll be pleased to have a little taste of home!

What You'll Need:

- Crust -
+ 250g rye crackers/crispbreads +
+ 200g Unsalted Butter +
+ 1 teaspoon Ginger +
+ 1 tablespoon Caster Sugar +

 - Filling -
+ 400g Full-Fat Cream Cheese +
+ 4 Medium Eggs +
+ 200ml Honey +
+ 50ml Double Cream +
+ 6 cardamom pods +
+ 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract +

1. Process all of the rye crackers until you have fairly fine crumbs. I would usually do this with a freezer bag and a rolling pin - but I moved up in the world and finally invested in a food processor!

2. Melt your butter - microwave will suffice - and dissolve your tablespoon of sugar and your 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger into it.

Pour this melted, spiced butter into your rye cracker crumbs.

If you've made a normal cheesecake base before, you might notice that this is a LOT of butter to use in comparison. The reason for this being that the rye crackers really are quite dry, and so will soak up more butter before they become adequately damp.

Depending on the brand of crackers, you may need more or less butter. That's just the way it is - but it's ok. You can see if it's damp enough by taking a handful and squeezing it in your fist. If it all holds together in a lump, it's good to go.

3. Press the crumbs into a tin or a tart dish. You should have some extra to take up the sides, though admittedly the rye crumbs are a lot harder to do this with than a normal cheesecake crumb! If you don't want the stress, just make a flat layer on the bottom, that's totally lovely too.

Refrigerate your base while we crack on with the rest.

4. Before we start the filling, preheat your oven to 325F/160C. Let the oven handle itself from now.

5. In a large bowl, beat together your 400g cream cheese and your 4 eggs until nice and smooth. And then beat in all the rest - 200ml honey,  50ml cream, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 6 cardamom pods. Best way to do the cardamom pods is to crack open each pod under your fist. Inside the pod are little black seeds, simply scatter these into your mixture and just discard the shells.

Or if you have a processor, you can just plonk all of the ingredients in together and blitz until completely smooth. Usually I prefer to mix up this sort of batter by hand anyway, so I get a better feel for the consistency, but I had a particularly stressful day today, so sod that lark!

Once everything is mixed, you will have a pretty runny batter, like milk. If you've made cheesecake batter before, you might be concerned! This runny batter totally normal - it will work! Don't panic.

6. Pour your batter until your chilled and set rye cracker base. Place the whole thing on a baking tray and carefully shimmy it over to the oven, trying not to tilt it. Very runny batter indeed!

7. Bake the cheesecake on the middle rack of the oven, for 45-60 minutes. It's ok to check on it every 10 minutes, by all means. You will know it's done when the top is browned and the filling remains firm when you nudge it. If it ripples to the touch, it needs longer.

8. Once done, remove from the oven and leave in a cool place for 3-4 hours before you put it in the fridge. Before you fridge it, warm up a little honey until nice and runny and lightly brush over the cheesecake's skin. It'll give it a lovely, sticky sheen. Very appetising!

Hope you enjoy this one! Let me know what you think. 

Anthony :)



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