One of the more intriguing presents that MTV boyfriend and I received for our wedding was a box of Australian spices. It is somewhat embarassing to admit that it is only relatively recently that chefs in Australia have really started using native ingredients in their cooking. One of the spices in the box was lemon myrtle, a citrus fragranced rainforest herb. In the UK lemon myrtle is available at Harvey Nichols or you can order it online from Herbys.
Because the herb has a strong lemon flavour but lacks the fruits acidity it is ideal for using in milk or cream based dishes as it will not curdle. My immediate thought was that lemon myrtle would be ideal in a cheesecake so I adapted a classic recipe to include the herb. This recipe is very rich and aromatic and a small slice is certainly enough. It is probably best made a day in advance to allow the flavour to intensify. Are there any other interesting herbs or spices that you have tried or would recommend?
Dried lemon myrtle
100g butter, melted
300g oatmeal biscuits
500g cream cheese at room temperature
200g castor sugar
1 tb cornflour
1 tbsp dried lemon myrtle
2 drops of vanilla essence
1 pinch salt
Raspberries to serve (optional)
Biscuit crumbs form the base of the cheesecake
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Make a waterproof seal for your springform tin by brushing the base and sides with a little of the melted butter. Remove the base from the tin and cut a round of grease proof paper to fit the base of the tin, brush the paper with a little butter and set aside. Tear off a piece of aluminum foil that is more than double the size of the tin. Double it over and lay the foil over the base of the tin then put the buttered round of paper on top of it. Sit the springform tin over the base and lock the sides into place, leaving excess foil outside the tin. Draw up the excess foil and leave it out of the way.
Mixing the cream cheese, eggs and sugar
3. Crush the biscuits using a mixer or simply bash with a rolling pin until they resemble crumbs (very therapeutic). Add the remaining butter and mix to combine.
4. Press the crumb mixture into the base of the tin, smoothing it down firmly with the base of a glass as you go.
5. Beat the cream cheese and sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in cornflour then add the eggs once at a time, beating each time until smooth. Add the lemon myrtle, vanilla and salt and mix briefly to combine.
The cheesecake in its water bath ready to go in the oven
6. Pour the batter into the springform tin and stand the tin in a baking tray. Fill the baking tray with boiling water until it is halfway up the side of the tin to form a water bath.
7. Bake for 50 mins and then turn off the oven but do not open the door for a further hour.
8. Lift tin from water bath and flatten foil away from sides just in case there is any water trapped inside.
9. Cool completely in tin on a wire rack and refrigerate overnight before serving (or at least for as long as possible). Top with raspberries to serve.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in this recipe for another show stopper dessert – cremé brulee or this recipe for cheats chocolate mousse.