Baked Cherry Amaretti Cheesecake

Now I know it's not cherry season yet in Australia, we get the best cherries around Christmas time. I have some of the best memories buying cherries by the box and sitting there and devouring half the box in no time flat! But I think jar or tinned morello cherries work pretty well, they're nice and syrupy!

Amaretti pair beautifully with cherries, lovely Italian macaroons add a gorgeous almond flavour. They're quite similar to french macaroons, in the sense that they're made from a base of egg whites and almond meal, but when you purchase these bikkies they usually have quite a strong marzipan flavour. YUM!! You can grab a packet of these from the international section of your local grocers, or if you're game you can make some, just make sure you add a few drops of almond essence to your mix!

I am definitely more inclined to baked cheesecake rather then cold-set. I know baking requires more time and energy, but I think the end result proves that the hard work is definitely worth it. The texture always seems so light and fluffy- especially when you whip the whites separately and fold them in.

Oh so light and fluffy!


Method...
Base
125gr (1/2 pkt) Milk Arrowroots (or other sweet plain biscuits)
125gr amaretti biscuits
125gr unsalted butter

Filling
500gr Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
150gr (2/3 cup) caster sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup cream
4 eggs, separated
vanilla bean

Topping
1 large jar of pitted morello cherries
1 cup caster sugar
1 nip of Galliano Amaretto if you have it- otherwise, you can use a drop of almond essence or omit it all together

Method...
For the topping;
1. Drain the cherries from the liquid, and place the liquid into a heavy-based saucepan with the sugar and Galliano/essence and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 10 minutes or to reduce by half. Add the cherries and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until it looks syrupy. Pour it into a container or bowl and put it in the fridge to cool.

For the base;
1. Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin.
2. Place both the biscuits in a food processor and blitz until it resembles a fine sand. Melt the butter, then add to the crushed biscuits as you process them. Once butter is well combined, use the back of a spoon or a spatula (or your hands if they're clean :-P) to press the biscuit mix into the base and sides of the lined cake tin (about 2/3 of the way up the sides). Pop in the fridge for 10 minutes while you make the filling

For the filling;
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan-forced)
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, then in a separate clean bowl, whip the cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla until combined.
3. Add the egg yolks and lemon and beat until light and creamy, then pour in the cream and whip on medium for 1 minute
4. Carefully fold in the whipped egg whites, half at a time using a large metal spoon.
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and then using a desert spoon, place about 8 heaped spoonfuls of the cherry mix around the top of the cheesecake. Use a knife to swirl the mix around the top. Reserve the rest for serving.
6. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, check it after 15 minutes, if it's already starting to brown in some places, you may need to turn your oven down 10 degrees or so** Your cheesecake is ready when it is set and only wobbles slightly in the centre.
7. Turn the oven off and leave to cool with the door open for 5-10 minutes, then remove and let it cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge. Serve with a side of extra cherry syrup and some whipped cream if you're feeling extra decadent!



**The cheesecake will rise a fair bit, but once its cooled it will sink back down.

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