Assisted Suicide by Cheesecake

This is a recipe my mother got from somewhere, more than 30 years ago, and it has sustained me through bad and good times, not least because it's the only pudding I seem to be able to do well! The name is a parody of 'Death by Chocolate'.

INGREDIENTS -packet of ginger biscuits (not digestive biscuits; believe me, ginger biscuits are MUCH better). -some margarine or butter (see later for the amount). -one medium-size lemon (don't use lemon from a bottle, you need the real thing). -one medium-size tub of double cream (do not use single cream, it does not work properly; can use whipping cream, but if you are going for the full coronary experience, double cream is what you need). -one medium-size pack of plain Philadelphia (Philly) cream cheese (not the one with chives in !!). -one medium-size tin of sliced peaches; or other fruit, but I find that peaches give the best overall taste.

Roughly-speaking, you want approximately equal weights of Philly and cream. I have experimented with different amounts, and even (shock, horror) used low-fat Philly, but it really doesn't taste as good as the full fat variety. You're not making this for dieting. Unlike some cheesecakes, this version is not cooked.

1) Make the base Coarse-crush the biscuits using a rolling pin on a chopping board; leave them gritty, if they are too finely crushed the base becomes a bit homogenous, and doesn't taste so good; you want to avoid the pathetic attempts at cheese cake bases that supermarkets do. Don't eat too many of the biscuits at this stage. Melt some margarine/butter in a pan; the amount depends on how big is the pack of biscuits, and how many you eat, and I never weigh anything so no good asking me how many grams. Melt some (do not let it start to cook), and then tip the crushed biscuits into the pan and remove from the heat. Stir it all up, and if you ha ve put too little margarine then the biscuits will not stick together properly. But all is not lost because all you need to do is to scrape the biscuit mass to the edges of the pan and melt a bit more marg/butter in the centre of the base of the pan, then mix it all up again. However, AVOID too much marg/butter, because it makes the base greasy to eat; a cheesecake can be ruined if it has too much marg/butter in the base. You want just enough to hold the biscuits together.

Select a suitable large plate, reasonably deep, and press the biscuit mass into an isopachous (that means evenly-thick; geologists know what isopachous means) disc across the base of the plate. Press it firmly down so when it cools it becomes reasonably firm; this avoids it crumbling when you cut the finished cake (although this can be advantageous at the delivery stage if you are able to steal some biscuit from the edge of the base from the next piece). Leave it somewhere to go cold, the fridge is best.

2) Make the topping

In a reasonably-sized mixing bowl pour all the cream, and spoon out all the Philadelphia. Squeeze the lemon juice into a separate glass, and then dig out all the pips - you MUST avoid pips in the cheesecake. Then pour the juice into the bowl. You can use a fork or a hand blender to mix it all up into a thick consistency (special note: a hand blender is not a machine for blending hands so keep your fingers out of the way). Now, open the tin of peaches and pour some of the sugary liquid into the mixture; the aim here is to achieve a balance between sugar and lemon, to produce a sharp but pleasant-tasting mixture - not too sweet because the biscuit base is full of sugar (which is partly why biscuits are so bad for you). So, add what you feel is the right amount of peach liquid and stir, then taste it (remembering your hygiene - do not put the fork back into the mix without washing it).

2) Assemble the cheesecake

Once the mix is complete, restrain from eating too much of it at this stage; it tastes MUCH better as a fully assembled cheesecake. Strain the liquid from the tin of peaches, and then take several slices and lovingly cut them up into large bits and distribute evenly across the biscuit base (you can use about half the peaches for this). Then tip the cheese/cream mixture onto the plate, and smooth it into another isopachous layer (you know what isopachous means now, so that makes you a geologist); make sure all the peach bits are covered by the beautiful pure white mass of almost-unresistable cheese-cream mixture. Then equally lovingly and tastefully arrange the remaining peach slices into some sort of design on the top of the cake (if it does not look like a Picasso, it will not matter when your guests taste it). Cover the entire ensemble with cling film and put it in the fridge. Therefore when you come to the pudding, having given your guests some poor quality first course that they slowly but politely manage to chew their way through, you can simply reach into the fridge and unleash the cheese cake; all will be forgiven.

I found that there is a true chemical transformation if the cheese cake is made about 12-24 hours before it is needed; the mix somehow transfuses into the base, and it all tastes much better than a freshly-killed cheese cake. It will keep for about two days, and is absolutely superb for breakfast the following morning, with a cup of tea. In fact, if you have any sense, you can just give them some cheese and biscuits, and keep the whole cake for yourself. Just make sure you cut thin slices for your guests; actually this is not because you want to keep it, it is a very rich mixture, and you really do not need much of it at one time. You can always come back for more.

Health warning: under no circumstances use cottage cheese !

Financial warning; double cream and Philadelphia cream cheese, plus tinned peaches and biscuits costs a few pounds to make.

Taste warning: never put Marmite on a cheesecake.

Cheers (or cheese),


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