You may have noticed my sporadic presence online over this summer and I think I must, unfortunately, now call an end to what was nicknamed a “summer break” but was more a sofa-slumped summer due to the soggy weather which prevailed. I kept waiting for the hot summer sun to beckon me into one of my new summer dresses but, much to my husband’s dismay when he saw the credit card bill, they all remain unworn, hanging limply in the wardrobe waiting for better luck next year.
And so before I knew it, plums have come into season and the farmers markets are now a celebration of autumnal red, yellow and green.
The beginning of autumn also signals the release of many new cookbooks, their publication often intended to provide gift-wrapped inspiration for the coming Christmas season. But with Christmas seemingly too far off in the distance for me, I frequently find myself indulging in a new cookbook or two at this time of the year. One such anticipated purchase has been Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Having enjoyed the recipes from Ottolenghi’s earlier vegetarian cookbook, Plenty, I was anxious to be enticed and inspired by some new recipes, but was instead surprised that the first recipe to really catch my attention was this Set Cheesecake with Plum Compote. I’m always impartial to a cheesecake for dessert, and because I can never seem to make a baked cheesecake work, the no-bake versions appeal to me even more.
Whilst the plum compote makes this dessert suitably autumnal, the star of this dish is the toasted crumble topping, comprised of crushed hazelnuts and black sesame seeds (also called Nigella seeds or kalonji), which lends the requisite crunch and nubbly texture to this dish.
This cheesecake is actually a deconstructed cheesecake, although a bit more upmarket than the Cheesecake Verrines with Passionfruit & Raspberries which I have previously posted on this blog. I find Ottolenghi’s version to be quite rich, so a little goes a long way. To this end, I prefer to serve a few small scoops of cheesecake mixture per bowl, and to let guests help themselves at the table to as much compote and crumble as they like.
In the short time that I’ve owned this book, I’ve made this cheesecake so often that I’m already starting to think about what other fruits would go well once the plum season comes to an end. The cheesecake mixture needs about 24 hours to set in the fridge, and both the crumble and compote keep well for several days. This means it is the perfect dessert to make well ahead of time if you have guests coming over.
This recipe for Set Cheesecake with Plum Compote is a variation of a version served with greengage compote which Ottolenghi posted in his column for The Guardian and which you can find here.
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