So, I learned something when I decided to make a mango swirl cheesecake to bring to our Chinese New Year dinner for my dad’s side of the family. The lesson is: No matter how much you try to coax the tropics to come to you in February, mother nature will play hard ball and deny you such a pleasure. I definitely felt her wrath when I tried to make this cheesecake using mangoes that were deceptively fragrant– but were not in season. So, I did what any person with a stubborn idea in their head would do.. I chanced it and went ahead with my purchase. I will mention this: It felt eerie to have them available all year round. However, the aroma was so intoxicating and they were perfectly ripe. I (naively) assumed then that they would also be florally sweet and delicious.
I was adamant about trying this recipe because it had been lodged in the backburner of my ‘To Make’ pile for so long that it was literally gathering dust. If I didn’t make it then, I would never remember to do so later on. So I persisted, and toted the fruit home. Anticipating a luscious tasting fruit, I cut into them … BUT I got…nada- nothing-zip. They were flat and bland. But, the cheesecake path was already paved… I couldn’t turn back now! All the ingredients were bought and ready to go. I thought that I could doctor the fruit and just double the amount of sugar used. Again.. no dice. I’ve now learned not to Eff with mother nature and to wait when summer rolls around for the actual sweet tasting mangoes to arrive.
In hindsight, I really should have used canned or frozen mangoes. The flavour would have been vibrant because these items are preserved when the fruit is at their peak ripeness.
A few tips and things I learned about this recipe:
1. Hells yes, it is time consuming. So, plan accordingly. You can make certain things in advance (such as the crumb crust and mango puree) so you don’t go crazy or run out of steam.
2. It’s a cheesecake, so you really, really, need to make this a day in advance so you can let it cool completely and then stick it in the fridge to let the cake set up and allow the flavours to bloom.
3. This makes a thick crust. So make sure it is evenly distrributed (I usually cover the base first– feeling with my fingertips as I go along, then the sides, and use leftovers to do patch work or make certain areas thicker). I acutally had to double the bake time in order for it to turn golden brown (and for it to retain its crispiness once the cheesecake batter was poured in).
4. Any leftover mango puree can be used for plating purposes. If you can make your cheesecake even prettier, why not do it?
5. It’s a showstopper of a cake. Don’t worry, your efforts will be rewarded.
6. Cream cheese (I strongly recommend using full fat Philadelphia cream cheese bricks, not the tubs)
7. You will be baking this cheesecake in a water bath (bain marie). This will ensure that the heat distributes as evenly as possible. It will also prevent your cheesecake from cracking. To prevent leaks, wrap the springform pan in plastic wrap then in foil. Place the pan in a roasting tin. Then fill it with just boiled water, halfway up the sides.
8. The cheesecake is cooked when you wiggle it and the middle- about the size of a loonie- is still jiggly. As it cools, it will continue to cook and set up.
9. This recipe is truly a taste delight (just make sure your star performers are in season!). The buttery coconut flecked crust has citrus infused mango slices piled on top. A soft, creamy cheesecake batter is then poured on top. Vibrant tangerine hued mango puree is streaked through the batter.
10. After all this work, you will want to get clean slices from your cake. To do this, simply fill a tall pitcher with just boiled water. Stick a long sharp knife in it to get it nice and hot. Take it out and use a towel to wipe off the excess water. Then slice. Repeat the process with the rest of the pieces. This will ensure that between cuts, you won’t have batter sticking to the knife and transferring the gunky mess to another slice.
Ok, on with the recipe which comes from Anna Olson. The homemade mango puree recipe comes from Martha Stewart.
My suggestions are in italics.
Mango Swirl Cheesecake
For the Crust
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups graham crumbs
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Fruit Filling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 fresh mangoes, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar (if they’re not sweet, double the amount)
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the Cheesecake Filling
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature (I recommend Philadelphia cream cheese)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup mango puree, fresh or tinned
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
For the Mango Swirl
1/2 cup mango puree (fresh or tinned) (I posted the recipe below)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
To Assemble the crust:
For crust, preheat oven to 350° F. Combine flour, graham crumbs and coconut with sugar and lime zest. Stir in melted butter and blend until even and crumbly. Press into the bottom and an inch up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned around edges and allow to cool(took me 20 minutes because the crust was so thick). Wrap bottom of pan will (I wrapped it in plastic then foil for extra insurance) foil and place in a baking dish that has at least a 2-inch lip. Reduce oven temperature to 300° F.
To prepare fruit filling, melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add mangoes, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, ginger and nutmeg (I would double the amount of spices used next time. As they weren’t detected in the fruit). Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, until fruit is tender and juices have evaporated (this actually took much longer… I think 10-15 minutes for mine). Allow to cool for 10 minutes and spread into bottom of baked crust.
For cheesecake filling:
Beat cream cheese in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with electric beaters until smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Add sugar, flour and salt and beat again scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Mix in mango purée, sour cream, lime juice and vanilla and blend well. At this point, there should be no lumps – if there are, beat again until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping bowl thoroughly. Pour cheesecake into prepared pan.
For mango swirl, whisk together mango purée, sugar and egg yolk. Drizzle or spoon over cheesecake, and with a skewer or paring knife swirl the puree through. Take cheesecake in baking dish to oven door. Pour boiling water around pan to come up halfway. Bake for 1½ to 2 hours. Halfway through cooking, crack the oven door for 10 minutes then complete cooking. Turn off oven, crack oven door, and let cheesecake cool to room temperature. (Pull the roasting tin carefully from the oven. Then take the springform pan out of the water bath. Remove the plastic wrap and foil. Do this over the sink in case there is any spillage.)
Chill overnight in springform pan (put plastic wrap right over the surface of the cool- to- the- touch cheesecake. Wrap it well and store in the back of the fridge away from things with strong odours)
To serve, run a paring knife around the edge of the cheesecake and remove ring. (I use a hair blowdrier and quickly run it around the ring mold and then remove it. It ensures that nothing will stick to it)
Yield: one 9-inch cheesecake. Serves 12 to 16.
Homemade Mango Puree
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water (I omitted this)
Combine mangoes, sugar, and water in a blender and puree until smooth.
Yield: Makes 3 cups.
(store leftovers in the fridge. Will keep for about a week)