1 quantity Almond pastry crust (recipe below)
100 g (3½ oz) fresh (medjool) dates, pitted and roughly chopped
350 g (12½ oz) fresh firm ricotta cheese
350 g (12½ oz) cream cheese, softened
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus extra shredded zest to serve
60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1½ tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
pinch of salt
figs, fresh berries or other fruits in season, for decorating
rice malt syrup, to drizzle (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F (fan-forced). Grease a 20 cm (8 in) springform cake tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
2 Make the almond pastry mixture. Press firmly into the base of the prepared tin and bake for 10–12 minutes or until just starting to brown around the edges. Set aside to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 130°C/265°F (fan-forced).
3 Put the dates in a small heatproof bowl and add 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) boiling water. Set aside for 5–10 minutes to cool, stirring occasionally. Whiz the soaked dates, including their soaking water, in a food processor until smooth. Add the ricotta, cream cheese, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla seeds and process until smooth. Sprinkle over the cornflour and whiz again until combined. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl. Beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the cheese mixture in two batches.
4 Pour the mixture over the prepared base and bake for 30–35 minutes or until lightly browned and the centre is just set – it should wobble slightly. Turn off the oven and leave to cool with the door closed for 1 hour. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Remove from the tin. Just before serving, top the cheesecake with the figs or fruits of your choice, and drizzle with rice malt syrup if you like.
This cheesecake will keep for 2–3 days, covered, in the refrigerator.
Almond pastry crust
240 g (8½ oz/2 cups) almond meal
2 tablespoons coconut flour
60 g (2 oz) virgin coconut oil, chilled to solidify then roughly chopped
½ teaspoon liquid stevia (optional)
2–4 teaspoons iced water
1 Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F (fan-forced).
2 For the almond pastry crust, whiz the almond meal, coconut flour and solid coconut oil in a food processor and pulse until the coconut oil is mixed evenly throughout the mixture – you will still see small flecks of the solid coconut oil. Add the egg and stevia (if using), and, with the processor running, add enough water for the mixture to form coarse crumbs. It should cling together when pressed between your fingertips.
3 Distribute the crumbs evenly over the base and up the side of a fluted 23 cm x 3 cm (9 in x 1¼ in) round loose-based tart tin, and then press the mixture firmly into the base and side of the tin with your fingertips.
4 Cover the crust with a sheet of non-stick baking paper and fill with baking weights, or dry rice or beans. Blind bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and take out the weights and paper.
5 Brush with the extra beaten egg and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the crust is cooked through and the sides are lightly coloured. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Extract from Incredible Bakes by Caroline Griffiths, published by Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99