Written by Suzie // May 18, 2020
I love gin and tonic, and I love cheesecake, so this recipe did seem like a bit of a no-brainer to me in that I would at some point have to try it and include it on the blog.
I decided to make this on a quiet Sunday teatime. I thought I had plenty of time, and I’d made plenty of cheesecakes before, and that this would be just as straightforward as all the others I’d ever encountered. Disclaimer: do not attempt to cook a roast chicken at the same time as making this cheesecake. Just don’t. Trying to continuously stir gelatin whilst whipping cream and removing a chicken from the over was just a little beyond the realms of my capabilities. Don’t get me wrong; nothing was spoiled, but comments from my husband that “Nigella never seems to get this stressed” really didn’t help matters!
I should really give you a list of ingredients! Note, this does include gelatin. Unless you’re a vegan or vegetarian, this shouldn’t be scary. I’d never used gelatin before, and did find it quite simple to work with once I realised it wasn’t going to solidify on me in seconds! I am trying to source a vegetarian alternative simply because I want to make it for my friend’s daughter as I felt to guilty she couldn’t have any when her mum was oohing and aahing over it today.
You’ll need a 20cm deep springform cake tin. It must be one where the bottom and sides are separate from each other, unless you plan to just sit down and eat the whole thing yourself with a spoon, straight from the tin. No judgement here; I’m just saying you might want to impress someone with it, and having a tin you can actually get it out of will help.
For the base, you will need:
- 400g digestive biscuits
- Zest of an orange
- 150g butter melted
For the filling:
- 125ml Kemsing Gin
- 125ml tonic water (you can go skinny on this)
- 75g caster sugar
- 5 gelatin leaves
- 600g full fat cream cheese (this is not a recipe for dieters, sorry)
- 300ml double cream (you see what I mean?)
- 100g icing sugar
- juice of half a lime
- zest of a large orange
- 150ml double cream
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- lime zest
I have to add at this point that there are a lot of recipes for gin and tonic cheesecake online, and I played around with different ways to incorporate the Kemsing botanicals in order to make this a great match for this amazing gin. However, the ingredients above seem to reflect most of what I read online. Due to the amount of liquid in this recipe (trust me, there will be a point when making this when you will check and double check your recipe because it will seem impossible that it could ever be anything more than cheesecake soup) there is a necessity for a setting agent and this comes in both the addition of the gelatin and the lime juice. I used the Dr Oetker gelatin leaves because that’s what my local supermarket has, but I understand that there are other options available.
Measure out your gin and tonic. If, like me, you use a 200ml bottle it would be a damn shame to waste that tonic so measure out another gin and tonic. This is not for the cheesecake – this is for you to drink as you’re cooking.
Blitz the digestive biscuits until they resemble sand and then add the orange zest to them and blitz a bit more. I used a food processor because I’m lazy. If you’re feeling particularly uptight, or someone has annoyed you by suggesting you should just go to Costco and buy a cheesecake, then feel free to put those biscuits in a food storage bag and bash them to smithereens with a rolling pin. Remember to close the bag, though, otherwise you’ll be clearing up digestive crumbs for weeks. When you’re happy with them, combine with your melted butter, stir and press into the base of your tin.
Make the filling! Submerge your gelatin leaves in cold water for 5 minutes (set a timer). Meanwhile, add your gin, tonic and sugar to a pan and over a low/medium heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved. You’re not looking to boil it, just warm it gently. The more heat, the more the alcohol content will reduce. Let’s face it, we’re not looking at doing that. We want a boozy dessert!
When the five minutes are up, squeeze the water from your gelatin leaves and add these to the gin mixture and stir gently until they’ve dissolved, when you can take them off the heat.
It is at this point, I have to admit, where the wheels started to come off a little for me…
Add your cream cheese, icing sugar, orange zest and lime juice to a bowl. The addition of the orange zest here helps those wonderful Kemsing flavours to sing! I would love to have one of those beautiful free-standing mixers like they do on Bake-off, but I can’t justify the cost currently. Therefore, I use my little handheld electric whisk that I’ve had for about 20 years now, but it has never let me down! Whisk all of these together until smooth whilst SIMULTANEOUSLY stirring the gelatin mix every now and then (hence you don’t want to be roasting a chicken at the same time because it was at this point that timers started going off everywhere, and I started going into meltdown).
Once it is smoothly mixed, switch your mixer to its lowest setting and slowly slowly slowly pour the gelatin mix into the cream cheese mixture. You have to do this slowly, you just have to. Remember the cheesecake soup I mentioned earlier? This is where you get a soupy milkshake like consistency and it splashes everywhere if you go too fast. You do not want to waste any of that gin! When the gelatin mix is all in, continue to mix for another minute or so.
Now comes my favourite part, and you’ll start to see some cheesecakey magic here! Add your double cream (the 300ml measure) and continue to whisk. Exercise patience here, and soon your mixture will begin to thicken. Keep going until it no longer resembles soup and actually looks like something you want to dip your entire face into, and then pour it into the tin on top of the biscuit base. Smooth it out. Do not stick your finger in it! Pop your cheesecake into the fridge on a flat surface, not balanced on top of multiple boxes of the kids’ yogurts (I make the mistakes so you don’t have to). Now you can turn your attention to the beaters and the bowl and relive some of your happiest childhood memories where you were given the bowl to clean out and the whisks to lick the mixture off this. And you can do this with wild abandon, in the knowledge that, because it has gin in it, your kids can’t have it! Oh no!
You have to wait at least 6 hours now. If you can leave it overnight, even better. You need this bad boy to set properly! The best things come to those who… wait.
Step 6 – Decoration!
First, you’re going to need to get your cheesecake out of the tin. Go gently here, it won’t just pop out in a helpful manner. Oh no. Overnight, it has welded itself to the sides of the tin and won’t budge. That’s fine. It just needs a little coaxing. Gently warm the sides of the tin with your hands, squeezing it gently around the sides. You will find soon enough that you can start to push the base upwards and your finished cheesecake will emerge from the top. Go gently and slowly bringing your baby into the world.
Decoration time! Ok, you can go as crazy as you want here. I’ve gone for simple and elegant (and at half 7 this morning, I was a little bleary-eyed and lacking imagination) and I just piped on the remaining cream (150ml) which I’d whipped with the 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and scattered some lime zest over the top. However, you can be as imaginative as you like. Throw caution to the wind! Fruit, straws, sparkly stuff…
As always, take some lovely photos of your creations and tag us in them on social media. We can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with!