My variation for a non alcoholic version: just follow the same recipe but use red grape juice, apple juice or cranberry and reduce the sugar by 2 third or half Add a fairly large piece of fresh Ginger to give an equivalent 'burn' to alcohol. As spices I use cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamon . If you’ve got your own favourite spices, then feel free to make your own combination.
1 Preheat the oven to 140°C/Gas Mark 1. Lightly grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment.
2 To make the base, whiz the biscuits to crumbs in a food processor (or put them in a plastic bag and bash with a mallet or rolling pin). Mix with the melted butter to a wet, sandy consistency. Transfer to the lined tin and flatten with the back of a tablespoon to create a level base.
3 To make the cake batter, put the sugar and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Slit the vanilla pod lengthways in half and, using a sharp knife, scrape the seeds out into the bowl. Whisk by hand or, more easily, with an electric mixer, until smooth. Gradually add the eggs and soured cream, whisking until smooth. Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and place in the oven. Bake for 60–70 minutes, until set; a skewer inserted in the centre should come out with a slightly wet crumb attached. Leave to cool to room temperature, then turn out of the tin. Removing the cake from its base can be a little tricky. You can leave it there and serve from the base, if you prefer. Otherwise, get a flat 20cm cake board and gently squeeze it between the base of the cake and the lining paper. As a last resort, get a couple of fish slices and someone to help you lift the whole thing on to a flat serving plate. Now chill the cake for at least a couple of hours.
4 To prepare the nut topping, scatter the nuts over a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 140°C/Gas Mark 1 for about 15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Place the sugar in a saucepan with a very thick base (it is important that the layer of sugar is not more than 3mm high in the pan, so choose a large one). Heat the sugar gently until it turns into a golden-brown caramel. Do not stir it at any stage. Don’t worry if some small bits of sugar don’t totally dissolve. Carefully add the toasted nuts and mix gently with a wooden spoon. When most of the nuts are coated in caramel, pour them on to the lined tray and leave to set. Break bits off and chop them very roughly with a large knife. It’s nice to leave some of the nuts just halved or even whole.
5 To make the sauce, put the butter and sugar in a thick-bottomed saucepan and stir constantly over a medium heat with a wooden spoon until it becomes a smooth, dark caramel. The butter and sugar will look as if they have split. Don’t worry; just keep on stirring. Once the desired colour is reached, carefully add the cream while stirring vigorously. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
6 To finish the cake, dust the edges and sides with plenty of icing sugar. Spoon the sauce in the centre, allowing it to spill over a little. Scatter lots of caramelised nuts on top. The cheesecake will keep in the fridge for 3 days.
In this recipe I’m going to show you how utterly incredible a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb can be. In exchange I’d like you to buy quality local lamb that’s had the appropriate amount of hanging time.