This is the ultimate “minimum effort, maximum effect” dessert. Served in little pretty glasses, these deconstructed cheesecakes will fool your guests into thinking that you have been labouring away in the kitchen Top Chef-style when, actually, they require no more than 15 minutes to create from scratch.
In Paris, verrines are all the rage as kitchenware stores are stocked aplenty with miniature glassware for homecooks to serve everything from appetisers, mains and desserts in teeny portions. This is undoubtedly influenced by the Parisian restaurant scene itself where it is not uncommon to be greeted with an appetiser or palate refresher which can be finished in two spoonfuls. I am not always a fan of the cute and dinky but, admittedly, there is a time and place for food to be served in small, individual portions.
I first attempted this recipe when we were hosting a New Years’ Eve party some years ago. We had been in France to celebrate Christmas with our families and had only returned to Zurich on New Years’ Eve itself. So I needed something which was quick to put together and which could easily be served to a small crowd of people. Not only could this recipe be made ahead of time, but the cheesecake tasted both light and satisfying and prompted enough compliments to make me blush.
This recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s Quick Collection app. It is essentially a no-bake cheesecake served in little glasses and topped with some fruit for contrast in flavour and texture. You can serve these cheesecake verrines with strawberries steeped in some balsamic vinegar or simply sweetened with some vanilla sugar. I like to also use raspberries with a generous shaving of dark chocolate, but my current favourite is fresh passionfruit with raspberries. The tangy sweetness of the passionfruit, together with the juicy plumpness of the raspberries, contrast perfectly against the creamy, vanilla-specked cheesecake filling.
I highly recommend that you make a few extra because these disappear very quickly.
Cheesecake Verrines with Passionfruit & Raspberries
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Quick Collection App
Makes about 8 (depending on the size of your glasses)
8 digestive biscuits (such as McVitie’s brand)
200 g (7 oz) cream cheese
4 tablespoons icing sugar
250 ml (1 cup) double cream (or thickened cream or whipping cream)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract or vanilla extract
raspberries to decorate
Place the biscuits into a large freezer bag and hit them with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs. Divide the biscuit mixture between 8 small glasses.
Place the cream cheese into a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until it is creamy. If you are doing this by hand, it is easiest if the cream cheese is at room temperature. Otherwise, I would suggest using the KitchenAid with the flat paddle attachment.
Add the icing sugar, double cream, lemon juice and vanilla bean extract.
Beat or whisk the mixture until it thickens to the consistency of a very thick yoghurt. It will look runny at first but keep beating away at a gentle speed.
Spoon the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit mixture in each of the glasses. For a cleaner presentation, and especially if you are doubling or tripling this recipe, I would recommend using a piping bag with a large round nozzle.
Remove the pulp from the passionfruit and divide evenly between the glasses. Decorate each glass with a few raspberries.
To make these cheesecake verrines 1 to 2 days ahead of time, make the biscuit base and cheesecake mixture as per the recipe. The biscuit base will stay fresh in the freezer bag, whilst the cheesecake mixture should be kept covered in the fridge.
To make them a few hours ahead of time, assemble the cheesecake verrines with the biscuit base and cheesecake mixture, wrap them individually with clingfilm and keep them in the fridge until needed. Make the fruit topping as far as you can in advance also, so that when the time comes to serve dessert, all you need to do is spoon the fruit into each verrine.
I wouldn’t assemble the cheesecake verrines more than a few hours ahead of time because the biscuit base is prone to becoming soggy. But I have to admit to having eaten these cheesecakes the next day when they had been fully assembled from the previous night, and they tasted just as exquisite.