Chocolate Lime Cheesecake
Recipe By: Nigella Lawson
Serving Size: 8
7 ounces chocolate wafer cookies
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 pounds cream cheese -- Philadelphia brand
1 cup sugar
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
4 small limes -- juice of
Place a large overlapping piece of foil over the bottom of the Springform pan, and then insert the pan ring over it. Fold the foil up around the sides of the pan and place the whole thing on a second piece of foil, also folding it and pressing it securely up around the pan so that you have a water-tight covering. Actually, I sometimes find some water dribbles out from this supposedly secure casing on unwrapping, but it doesn't seem -- as long as you unwrap the outer layer straightaway -- to cause any sogginess.
Process the cookies until they are like crumbs, then add the butter and pulse again. Line the bottom of the Springform pan, pressing the cookies in with your hands or the back of a spoon. Put the pan in the refrigerator to set, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the cream cheese gently until it's smooth, and then add the sugar. Beat in the eggs and the egg yolks, then, finally, the lime juice. Put a full kettle on.
Pour the cream cheese filling onto the chilled cookie base, then place the cake pan in a roasting pan and pour hot water from the recently boiled kettle around the foil-wrapped cheesecake to come about halfway up the sides of the Springform pan; don't overfill, as you'll only spill it on the way to the oven. Transfer it as steadily as you can to the oven and cook for 1 hour or so, checking after 50 minutes. It should feel set, but not rigidly so. You want to be able to detect, below the skin, the slightest, sexiest hint of quiver within.
Take the roasting pan out of the oven, then gingerly remove the Springform from its water-filled pan, stand it on a rack, peel off the outer layer of foil, tear away the side bits of the first layer of foil, and leave to cool. When the cheesecake's cooled down completely, place it in the refrigerator and leave it there until 20 minutes or so before you want to eat it.
Transfer to the plate that you're going to serve it on (it will need to be one without a lip, or a cake stand), and unclip the Springform pan. The underneath bit of foil, along with the base of the pan, are going to have to stay in place, unless you like living really dangerously. I don't mind a bit of risk in the kitchen, but fiddling about with something as desirably lacking in solidity as this dreamlike cheesecake is beyond even my clumsily impatient foolhardiness.
It makes life easier if, when you cut it, you heat the knife and cake slicer (and I find I need to use both, the one to cut, the other to lift up and ferry slices to waiting plates) under a very hot tap first.
Perhaps it is eccentric to wait for the last recipe in the chapter before pausing to explain what it is that makes any food trashy, as far as my purposes here are concerned, but nothing exemplifies it better than this cheesecake. Right then: you should know I start from the premise -- and this is resolutely the case with all the recipes here -- that, all campiness aside, it has to be good, better than good: it can taste surprisingly elegant or prejudice-challengingly seductive, but the one thing it mustn't taste like is a joke.
If that's understood, we can move on. Trashy food, in its Platonic ideal, should contain at least one brand-name product. Here we have the Philadelphia cream cheese leading. Next, it should use a low-rent ingredient, one that gastro-snobs would never normally even consider keeping in the house: may I introduce you to chocolate wafer cookies? (Yes, I like them too, but we're talking culinary status-queens here, the pose of the label-conscious purist.) Finally, in its loftiest incarnation, it should seek to evoke some food or food-related substance that is industrially produced, not naturally occurring. Here, my inspiration for the cheesecake was a sweet -- those chocolate limes I ate in my childhood.
That the base is rich and dark and perfectly counters the light, tender cream cheese custard above it, itself kept all the more delicately smooth by being baked in a water bath (and this is easy: don't let a bit of wrapping in foil and boiling a kettle put you off before you start) and made intensely, fragrantly sharp by having the juice of four uncompromisingly sour limes squeezed into it, takes us back to the beginning. Trashy is a state of mind, a game of mood: the food itself deserves, demands to be served and eaten -- unsmirkingly, unapologetically, and with voluptuous and exquisite pleasure.
8-inch Springform cake pan
As a side note, for those following along, still no word on the house.