Cherry Cheesecake Tart with a Gingersnap Crust

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Can you believe that Christmas is less than a month away?! I am so so excited, because it is by far my favourite holiday of the year. I get carried away in the romance of Christmas – the corny movies, twinkling lights, glimmering snow flakes and Christmas night-markets. One of my favourite traditions is going to buy the Christmas tree. Even though I live in Australia and it might seem silly buy a large, cumbersome pine tree in the middle of summer it always makes me happy. Scrupulously examining the line up of Christmas trees, making sure it has the right shape, that everything is in proportion and that it has a tip for the star to sit atop is definitely one of my favourite Christmas memories. The second is once the tree has been brought home and it’s time to decorate it. In my family, we make this into somewhat of a festivity by gathering together with Champagne and nibblies and taking turns to hang shimmering baubles on the tree. I know this might seem a little over the top, but it’s this silly extravagance that get’s me excited and in the Christmas spirit. We bought our tree last weekend and participated in said festivities and it was rather enjoyable. Sadly, the tree fell down and all the decorations have to be re-hung, but I guess that just means I can re-live the fun again.

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To get myself even more excited about Christmas I decided to make a Christmas inspired dessert and with all the gorgeous cherries that are in season I set about coming up with a way to use them. Recently I made a nectarine tart with a ginger crust from Smitten Kitchen’s blog, so I thought that by tweaking it a little and replacing the nectarines with cherries and adding a sweet cherry glaze this might be just about right for a Christmas dessert. The smell of the gingersnap crust cooking in the oven radiates Christmas all over the house, the aromatic spices from the ginger waft through the house and you can’t help but be in a good mood. I have to say that it’s very important to find ginger snap biscuits as opposed to ginger nut biscuits as the snap biscuits are soft and crumbly and are a much better texture for a tart crust, whereas the ginger nut biscuits are a lot harder and set like a rock. I found the ginger snap biscuits at our local Harris Farm supermarket, but I’m sure lots of good grocers would have them. The creamy cheesecake style filling made with mascarpone and a hint of lemon ensures the tart is not too sweet and means that less time is required to bake it in the oven! Score. Finally, the fresh cherries, topped with spoonfuls of the cherry ginger glaze give the tart it’s real Christmas spirit. This tart can definitely be made a day in advance because I ate some the next day, as you do, and I think it tasted even better!

 

Cherry Cheesecake Tart with a Gingernut Crust
For the crust:
225g gingersnap biscuits
90g butter unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 175C. Break the gingersnaps up roughly, then put in a food processor and blend until fine. Melt the butter, then pour into the processor. Blend again until all the crumbs are coated. Tip into a 20cm tart tin with removable base. Use a glass cup or similar to press the crumbs down and into the sides firmly. Place in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until slightly darker. Let it cool on a rack for about 30 minutes, then pop in fridge to cool further.
For the cherry glaze:
15 cherries
1/2 cup caster sugar sugar
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs strawberry jam (or raspberry or cherry)
2 tbs water
Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan over a medium heat. Keep stirring until mixtures starts to bubble and boil. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until mixture reduces and starts to take on a jammy consistency. Take off the heat and leave to cool.

 

For the filling:
250g mascarpone
200g cream cheese
1/4 cup caster sugar
zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat together marscarpone and cream cheese, then beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Finally beat in the sugar and lemon zest.  Spread over the cooled base and put in the fridge.
To assemble:
Large handful black cherries
Pit and halve the cherries. Top the filled tart with the cherries and then spoon over the cherry ginger glaze. You can serve straight away or leave in the fridge and serve when desired.
Serves 10

 

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