I've always put off attempting cheesecake: too much cheese and, frankly, not enough cake. And not to mention how sweet they always are! Last week, however, we were asked to make one for a Thanksgiving dinner and I was forced to confront my prejudices head-on. Now that I've made one with my own fair hands, I suppose I could possibly have been wrong...This version is not too sweet and is cut with creme fraiche so is much lighter than you expect. It also has some pretty exciting swirls of raspberry that you encounter as you cut into it.
75g melted butter
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
300g fresh or frozen raspberries, plus extra to decorate
225g golden caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, juice of 1/2
600g full-fat cream cheese
150g creme fraiche
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 tbsp plain flour
Icing sugar, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line the bottom and sides of an 23cm/9 inch cake tin.
Place the digestives in a plastic bag and beat them aggressively with a rolling pin until you're left with crumbs. Transfer to bowl and stir through the melted butter, sugar and nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Push into the base of the cake tin, making sure it's tightly packed. Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes until it just begins to colour, then remove and leave to cool. Turn the heat down to 150C/300F/Gas 2.
Place the raspberries in a saucepan with 50g of the sugar and give them a good squash with a fork. Place over a medium heat and cook for 5 minutes until they become soft and syrupy. Squeeze in the lemon juice, then put to one side to cool.
Using an electric whisk, beat the cream cheese and remaining sugar together for a couple of minutes until slightly lightened. Beat in the creme fraiche, then the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the lemon zest and vanilla seeds and sieve in the flour. Mix well, then pour into the cake tin.
Dollop the syrupy raspberries over the top, then use the handle of the spoon to swirl them through, making sure you get to the bottom and the sides. Smooth over the top, then place in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour until the surface is golden and there is a very slight wobble in the middle. Insert a skewer if you're unsure - it should come out clean. Leave to cool completely and then chill for at least 4 hours before serving, ideally overnight. Just before you're ready serve it, very carefully remove from the tin, peel off the greaseproof, scatter with some fresh raspberries and a dusting of icing sugar.