I had some friends over for dinner last night and couldn't quite decide what to make for dessert. Everything I decided on required baking but the oven was occupied by a 5 hour leg of lamb. After a big feed of roast it's hard to turn around and eat a heavy dessert, so I wanted something that was still decadent, but light. S-bo suggested fruit salad but I found all the chopping a bit daunting. This recipe came from a recipe scrapbook I started when I was about 18. I haven't attempted many of the recipes in there. Not sure why I even kept half of them.
Still, waiting so long to cook this one is quite a shame as it was delicious. If you're very organised you can prepare it before your guests arrive. I, on the other hand, was not organised and so ended up whizzing biscuits whilst my guests enjoyed cheese. I was then mixing cream cheese etc. whilst everyone else let their mains settle over a few glasses of wine. If only I had one of those huge kitchens with a big wooden table, where it's "cool" to cook as you go because everyone can join in. My kitchen is not terribly small as renters go, but it's not quite interactive.
The cream cheese/mascarpone mixture is great and make sure you don't skip the lemon zest. You could make a low-fat version by using reduced fat cream cheese, but what's the point really? If you can't handle the fat, don't have dessert! No, I'm kidding, what I really mean to say is everything in moderation is fine. I used mascarpone from the supermarket and got a great, creamy result, so I can only imagine how improved it'd be with some good "deli-grade". For a super quick dessert you could probably use some good full-cream vanilla or natural yoghurt and spoon the cherries straight from the can. My cherry syrup didn't thicken that much anyway!
100 g amaretti biscuits (I used arnott's buttersnap), crushed
250 g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced
250 g mascarpone
400 g can black cherries in syrup
1 tbsp cornflour, dissolved in 1/4 cup water
Drain cherries from syrup and set cherries aside. In a saucepan combine syrup with the cornflour mixture. Place over medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes until mixture thickens. Remove mixture to a bowl, stir in cherries, then refrigerate.
Divide crushed biscuits between 6 small glasses, dessert bowls or ramekins.
Beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in lemon zest and juice, then mascarpone. Divide mixture evenly between the glasses - but don't worry about smoothing the surface. Spoon a little cooled cherry mixture over each cheesecake.
Serves 6, however this recipe could easily be stretched out to 8.