And so it is February. Yikes. January pretty much passed in a wave of study and work with a couple of short trips to see real waves along the way. Summer seems to pass so quickly in Melbourne, as if our complaints about the heat scare the weather gods into submission and before long we are reaching for cardigans again.
I made this lovely, summery cheesecake for My Love’s birthday early in January and realised with a panic this morning that if I didn’t post it soon, mangoes would not be in season. This would be equally lovely made with any kind of stone fruit purée, or even berries, but if there are still some mangoes kicking around then take full advantage of them while they last.
Passionfruit Meringue and Mango Cheesecake
I just love the texture of this cheesecake, light and fluffy with gorgeous silky fruit and a just-set creamy texture. The reason I hate bought cheesecakes is that quite often they are rubbery from too much setting agent. The proportions in this one are pretty perfect – just firm enough to keep the cake looking pretty but not so firm your spoon bounces off the surface. I have included instructions for vegetarian setting agents too.
Now let’s talk about meringues. There is something quite magical about the way just two ingredients can turn into such crunchy chewy delight. I borrowed an idea from Burch and Purchese, adding freeze-dried passionfruit powder to meringues to make them taste like little puffs of sherbet. It was a bit of a mission to track down the fruit powder but eventually tracked down a whole range of fruit powders at Essential Ingredient. I found the pretty little edible flowers there too.
Summer in a cake!
As I was writing this I realised that I seem to have a bit of a one-track mind in summer. It was this time last year I posted my Mango ice cream with brown sugar meringue recipe so check that out too if you do find a late-summer mango stash.
- 150g/5.3 oz Scotch Finger biscuits (or shortbread cookies - see notes)
- 50g/1.75 oz macadamia nuts
- 75g/2.7oz unsalted butter, softened
- 500g/1.1 lb cream cheese, softened
- 3 gelatine leaves (see note for vegetarian options)
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup puréed mango flesh (about 2 small mangoes)
- 300ml cream
- 2 eggwhites
- About 160g caster sugar (see note)
- 1 tsp passionfruit powder, plus extra for sprinkling
- Grease and line the base and sides of a 22cm springform tin with baking paper
- Place biscuits and nuts into a food processor and blend until a fine crumb
- Add 50g of the softened butter and pulse until crumbs clump together. Test mixture by pressing a small amount of crumb together, if it doesn't hold its shape add the extra butter.
- Press mixture into the base of the springform tin, smoothing the top and refrigerate.
- Place gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cool water and set aside.
- Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
- Place 1/4 cup boiling water in a small cup or bowl, remove gelatine sheets from the cool water and place into the boiling water, stirring until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- In a separate bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form, set aside
- Gradually add mango puree to cream cheese mixture, beating between additions.
- When the gelatine mixture has cooled enough to touch (just slightly warm), add it gradually to the cream cheese mixture, beating well between additions.
- Carefully fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake mixture so as to retain the air in the mixture.
- Pour over the base and refrigerate until firm (4 hours or overnight).
- Preheat oven to 100C
- Line 2-3 baking sheets with baking paper.
- Place egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.
- Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time and keep whisking until thick and glossy, adding the passionfruit powder at the end.
- Pipe small merigues onto prepared trays and sprinkle with passionfruit powder
- Bake meringues for 1 hour, turn off oven, leave the door ajar and allow meringues to cool completely in the oven.
- Carefully remove the side of the springform tin and peel away the baking paper.
- Top with meringues.
- I love using Scotch Finger Biscuits in cheesecake bases because they have that lovely buttery flavour but with a firm crumb. If you can't get these, shortbread biscuits will work well. Similarly if you need to avoid nuts, just add some extra biscuits. Different biscuits/cookies may have more or less natural moisture so if substituting, just add 50g butter and then add more as needed.
- Alternatives to gelatine for vegetarians - there are many vegetarian gelatine alternatives on the market with slightly different setting properties. Read the pack instructions and use the amount of thickening agent suggested to set one cup of liquid.
- The perfect ratio of sugar to egg whites for meringues is 2:1. If possible, weigh the egg whites and then weigh out exactly twice their weight in caster sugar.
- It is best to top the cake with meringues just before serving as they will absorb moisture from the cake and become soft.