And it was Bonkers Awesome.
I hear you gasp in horror. Yes, I can hear it till here.
It’s 2017 and if Donald Trump can be President then I can well put Single Malt into whatever and whoever seems fit. Just so you know who’s boss.
Let’s backtrack. The story begins all the way in circa 2013. I read an article in the Guardian that said the Scots were using whiskies in their oatmeal and even pouring it over Haggis. It sparked a curiosity that eventually grew into a full-fledged debate with many dram enthusiasts, critics and even master blenders. And it never failed to start a fire!
The more Single Malts I try, the more convinced I am that it has the potential to be a kitchen’s most flavoursome and fearsome ingredient. It opens up a universe of palate opportunities – from sweet and light to complex and smoky, it’s like the La La Land of culinary musicals.
Over the last few years, I’ve been tipping Whisky into pretty much anything that deserves a good heat. Lamb Chops, Smoked Salmon and even a citrus salad dressing with a Lowland Malt. This post should really not come as surprise to you!
The results have been astounding and inspiring. With such a diverse flavour spectrum, it ends up enhancing existing flavours. You know, like salt does. So dessert tastes sweeter, smoked salmon is smokier and that salad dressing punched my lunch out of the park.
If you’re unsure where to start, you could begin experimenting with Lowland or even Unpeated Malts that in my opinion are more agreeable with simple sauces or glazes or even a quick addition to a bread pudding. Pick up more complex Malts for Game and meat to add that extra oomph to a party or a festive spread.
But let me assure you, nothing is more satisfying than a Chocolate and Single Malt pairing. Like the pairing of Jazz and Blues, this experience will undoubtedly be the most rewarding. I used a gorgeous dark chocolate called Whittaker which is 72% cocoa and 28% Ryan Gosling. Aka, Sexy.
To that, I added an elegantly sweet and spicy single malt that came with a hint of citrus and a lot of character.
This cake is robust and full of dark chocolatey goodness. Mind you, it’s not a ‘boozy’ cake, even though I’ve used Single Malt in both the cake and the ganache. Instead, it makes a bold chocolate statement that comes ends on a spicy note.
Oh, and did I mention it has no sugar?
For me, this cake is pure celebration, with a little black dress and fireworks. I made it for the parents 30th wedding anniversary which was also a great excuse to pop open that bottle of Single Malt.
Chocolate & Single Malt Cheesecake
Notes: Deep dark and almost bitter cheesecake with a hint of spice at the end
For the base
- Digestive Cookies – 100g
- Butter – 30g
- Cocoa Powder (Optional) – 10g
For the Chocolate Filling
- Cream Cheese – 300g
- Dark Chocolate – 200g
- Cacao Powder – 30g (you could sub with cocoa, but I would really recommend going with cacao instead)
- Single Cream – 100ml
- Single Malt – 100ml
- Eggs, separated – 3
- Vanilla extract/paste – 1tsp
For the Ganache
- Dark Chocolate – 100g
- Single Cream – 70ml
- Single Malt – 30ml
- Start by making the crust. Crush the cookies in a processor or using a rolling pin. You’re looking for a superfine consistency here. Mix melted butter thoroughly through and pat down in an 8-inch springform pan or loose bottom tin. Refrigerate while you make the rest of the cake
- Before we jump into making the filling, you need to take a minute to understand that you need to order the remaining steps on the basis of your weather. And while it won’t really matter if you’re making this in the summer (aka melted chocolate stays melted temperature) but if its cold and chocolate could set after melting, then you need to do this next step last.
- Preheat the oven to 160 C.
- Melt the chocolate by chopping it finely and melting it in a bowl over barely simmering water. Once its melted, remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks together and slowly add into the cooled chocolate. If you’re unsure about the temperature of the chocolate, then add two spoons of the yolks and mix it in swiftly to lighten the chocolate. Mix in the cacao powder
- Using a whisk, mix beat the cream cheese, cream, vanilla and single malt together till its well blended. Add this to the chocolate-yolk mix and combine it all together.
- Into the egg whites, add a pinch of salt and whip till it forms soft peak. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate filling until no white streaks are visible.
- Take the cake pan out of the fridge and tip the chocolate mix into the chilled crust.
- Bake for 45 mins and use a cake tester to check at 35 mins. If it comes out clean you could pull it out earlier for a mousse like cake or let it bake further if you like a denser crumb.
- For the ganache: Chop the chocolate finely and place it in a heatproof bowl
- Over a low flame, gently heat the cream and whisky till it’s well combined and warmed through. Make sure if doesn’t come to a boil.
- Pour over the cream mix into the chocolate and let it stand for about two minutes. Use a small whisk to mix it through thereafter.
- Let the ganache come to room temperature and then whisk again to thicken it. Cover with a cling film wrap and place in the fridge for about 15 mins to help speed up the process.
- Pull it out and give it a final whisk. The ganache should be thick and spreadable like mustard.
- Release the cheesecake from the ring and place it on a cake stand/plate.
- Pour over the ganache and smooth it out using a spatula
- Top with fruits, berries or edible flowers of your choice. You could also sprinkle over some icing sugar or cacao powder for a deeper flavour.
All Images by Ishita Thakur