Vanilla & Passion Fruit Cheesecake, Passion Fruit Sorbet
inspired by Roux at Parliament Square
After two weeks without a kitchen I’m really starting to miss cooking.
Sure I’ve made some salads and bits, but the closest I’ve come to cooking in the last fortnight is pouring some boiling water over some rice noodles.
It got me thinking. Imagine what it must feel like for restaurants that are still closed. How can I complain that I’m out of my kitchen for a couple of weeks (all so in the end I get a much nicer kitchen) when many chefs across the country are still not back in their kitchens?
Roux at Parliament Square is a perfect example. Due to reopen on the 7th September, that would mean that head chef Steve Groves has not been cooking for guests for nearly six months.
Suddenly two weeks doesn’t seem so bad.
There’s a million reasons why restaurants decide to stay closed. Some spaces, either front or back of house, just don’t permit social distancing. Many high end restaurants, such as this one, might no longer be able to fit enough chefs in the kitchen. Or in many cases business owners just don’t see a way to open and be profitable when their customers simply aren’t there.
Based in Westminster it’s no surprise, like many other city centre restaurants, that Roux at Parliament Square have delayed opening until the Autumn. So many businesses are praying that as the summer draws to a close people start going back into our city centres, to work, to socialise. Most importantly, to eat.
They may have been closed, but they’ve still be active on social media. Posting photos of past dishes. One that has caught my eye again and again is this incredible looking cheesecake.
“Alphonso Mango, Vanilla & Passion Fruit Cheesecake”
So it’s no wonder that when I was able to add on a bag of passion fruit to my Oddbox order a few weeks ago, this is exactly what I wanted to cook with them.
There was one slight hiccup. I couldn’t find any mango.
Usually I’d wait until I could find some, and then try and make a proper go of the whole dish. But when you have a matter of hours before your kitchen needs to be empty ready for the arrival of builders, you don’t have time to mess about. No time to go further afield on a hunt for tropical fruit.
This cheesecake is going to be passion fruit and…. passion fruit.
In fact I wonder why passion fruit is nearly always paired with another flavour, when it’s so delicious all on it’s own.
I made the sorbet the day before. Dissolving sugar in water and then adding in the juice of a lemon. Into a food processor with all the pulp from six passion fruit. Apparently if you pulse it all together in a processor it helps to separate the seeds from the fruit, so it’s easier to then pass through a sieve to remove the seeds.
Most of this passion fruit liquid goes into the freezer to set. But I keep a small amount in the fridge, to make the jelly layer of the cheesecake later.
The first task for the cheesecake is simply to mix crushed biscuits with melted butter. I’m sure Steve Groves makes his own biscuit base from scratch. Mine is made with some leftover hobnobs from the cupboard. See that’s one less thing to empty out from the kitchen already.
I press the buttery biscuit crumbs into two ring moulds. Yes they are my round biscuit cutters (the ones that also doubled as crumpet rings last week) so are different sizes. But it doesn’t matter.
I think whoever makes the cheesecakes should get to eat the bigger one. I’m sure Aidan will agree with me.
The biscuit bases go in the fridge to firm up and I make the vanilla topping. I whip some double cream and then fold in cream cheese, icing sugar and add a couple of drops of vanilla extract. The mixture gets spooned into the moulds and back into the fridge.
A few hours later my kitchen is half empty and my cheesecakes are ready for their passion fruit topping. I warm through the leftover passion fruit puree, melt some gelatine granules in warm water and then add it to the passion fruit. After letting it cool slightly it’s poured over the creamy cheesecake filling and back into the fridge they go.
Finally, with a kitchen almost empty of plates, pots and pans, the cheesecakes have set. This will be the last thing I eat in my old kitchen.
Amazingly the cheesecakes come out of the rings in one piece. I add a scoop of passion fruit sorbet on the side and tuck in (yes, I gave myself the bigger cheesecake).
Sure, they’re no where near as neat or as elegant as the ones at Roux Parliament Square. But then neat and elegant are not words I would use to describe myself either.
Or my kitchen for that matter. It might be empty of most unnecessary items, but there’s still a pile of washing up to do and mess everywhere.
Sure it will be tough without a kitchen for a while, I think. But at least when it’s all over I will finally have what every cook dreams of. A dishwasher.
I hope Steve Groves and his team have a brilliant reopening and enjoy being back in the kitchen. I can’t wait to get back into mine.
Vanilla & Passion Fruit Cheesecake with Passion Fruit Sorbet
Passion fruit Sorbet
- 100 g caster sugar
- 125 ml water
- 1 lemon
- 6 passion fruit
- 6 biscuits (I used hobnobs)
- 50 g butter
- 50 g icing sugar
- 125 ml double cream
- 250 g cream cheese
- 2 drops vanilla extract
- ½ sachet gelatine granules
- The day before make the sorbet. Put the water and sugar in a small saucepan on a low heat and stir gently until all the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool.
- Put the sugar syrup in a blender with the juice of a lemon. Scoop out all the passionfruit flesh and add to the blender. Pulse gently to help seperate the seeds from the fruit. Now pass the whole mix through a seive and discard the seeds.
- Put ¾ of the mix into a plastic tub and put into the freezer. Check after a few hours and once the mix has almost frozen break it up with a fork and put back in the freezer. Check and mix with a fork again after two hours and then leave overngiht to properly set.
- Place the rest of the passionfruit mix in the fridge to use the next day to make the passion fruit topping for the cheesecakes.
- To make the cheesecakes first crush the biscuits. Melt the butter and mix with the biscuit crumbs. Grease four 9cm rings with a little butter and put them on a plate or baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon push the biscuit base mix into a flat layer at the bottom of each ring and them put them in the fridge for an hour to firm up.
- To make the vanilla filling first whip the double cream. Now gently mix in the icing sugar, cream cheese and vanilla extract. If you wish you can add a little lemon juice here too if you like your dessert slightly less sweet.
- Add the cream cheese on top of the biscuit bases. Don't fill the moulds all the way to the top as you need to keep room for the jelly layer. Smooth as much as you can and put back into the fridge for a couple of hours.
- Mix the gelatine with three tablespoons of warm water to help it dissovle. Gently reheat the rest of the passionfruit in a small pan and then take off the heat and stir in the gelatine. Leave it to cool and then pour on top of the cheesecakes. Back into the fridge for a final set, until the jelly topping is firm.
- To serve gently push each cheesecake out of it's ring and place on a plate. Add a scoop of sorbet and enjoy.