06 May // the feijoa cheesecake of your dreams

I woke up with a pain in my stomach on Saturday morning and realised it was the pain of drinking too much and also the fact that in the few days prior I had pretty much only eaten this loaf of sourdough and cheesecake and metres of pizza. There had definitely been too much wine mixed with not enough (but certainly some) dancing around the lounge like a maniac, and it was watching movies on the couch and eating vegetables and gentle walks in the park from there on in for the rest of the weekend. #Wellness. 

Anyway, the cheesecake. We're in the throes of feijoa season here in New Zealand, those polarising little green fruit, with their short autumn season and their slightly-guava-esque fragrance and flavour. People get very excited at the beginning of their brief tenure as president of fruits, but by about mid-May they sit like a rotting carpet under overladen trees and people can't pay you to take a supermarket bag full of them off their hands. The good news is they freeze well (scoop out the flesh before freezing) and they preserve well too. And not only are they amazing in baked goods, they also make one hell of a cocktail: muddle some into your next Tom Collins and you won't regret it, I promise. 

They grow abundantly in Auckland, so I took a bag down to Christchurch on a recent trip visiting my little sister, where I introduced her Irish flatmate to this little green fruit. If you want to know the true meaning of happiness, it may just be introducing someone to feijoas (I mean, maybe the true meaning of happiness comes from running into someone you had met five years earlier but hadn't seen since and liking them again instantly and then feeling like that feeling is probably definitely mutual, but I wouldn't know). His joy was palpable. This was the same person who told me that the banana cheesecake I'd made for their flat earlier in the year was one of the top 3 things he'd eaten during his year long stint as a tradie in the garden city. "It was great to meet ye and put a face to that cheesecake" he said with a big grin as I left. And with that, an idea was born. (Feijoa cheesecake, in case you're not following.) 

There are feijoa recipes a-plenty currently floating around. This curd, according to my friend Kitty, is apparently improved with lemon zest. My friend Gwen added about a cup of feijoa flesh to this wholemeal honey cake before warming it and serving it with ice cream for dessert, and thus blowing my mind a few weeks ago. These feijoa coconut gems are improved only by adoring fans (flatmates, lovers, colleagues, friends) upon which to feed them to. Me, I'm reasonably obsessed with cheesecake. The seed had already been planted when a feijoa cheesecake recipe popped up on my facebook feed. My elation turned quickly to despair as I learned it was raw, and sugar free, and probably filled with avocado instead of cream cheese. But more about my feelings on the wellness fad and all its associated elimination diets to follow shortly. I was determined to make one which contained both refined sugar and full fat dairy, plus some gluten for good measure, and simply adapted this easy white chocolate and roasted banana number that I'd whipped up last year at Christmas time for my mates at All Good Organics. You simply replace the bananas with as much feijoa flesh as your heart desires (listen to your heart, but about a cup). Although it doesn't have the same structural integrity as a baked cheesecake, it's a delicious, gooey, feijoa filled but rich delight. I just recommend it as part of a diet involving more than sourdough and red wine. You've been warned.  

Feijoa and white chocolate cheesecake

Ingredients

Base:
100g butter, melted
1 x 250g packet wine biscuits (or gingernuts)

Filling:
50g softened butter

50g caster sugar

250g full fat cream cheese 

100g sour cream

A cup or two of feijoa flesh 

Zest of one lemon 

250g block Whittaker's white chocolate 

100g well whipped cream (edit: the original recipe said lightly whipped, but a firmer whip gives a more solid cheesecake)


Method

For the base, blend biscuits in a food processor until they resemble crumbs. Pour into a bowl and add melted butter. Mix together and press into a greased and lined 23cm spring form cake tin. Place in the fridge until your filling is ready. 

Beat butter and sugar together until well combined (NB I used my food processor for the entire recipe). Add the cream cheese, sour cream, feijoas, and lemon zest to the food processor. Blend well.

Meanwhile, cut the chocolate into chunks, and place in a heatproof bowl. Melt gently over a pot of simmering water (or in small bursts in the microwave) until it is fully melted and glossy – I always remove my chocolate from the heat when there are still some chunks and continue mixing until smooth, to stop it burning. Set aside for a couple of minutes to cool slightly. 

Add chocolate to the mixture and blend to combine. Remove mixture from the food processor into a bowl and fold in the lightly whipped cream.

Pour mixture into the prepared biscuit base in the tin, and smooth the top. Allow to set for at least 3 hours. I probably wouldn't garnish with fresh feijoa slices again as they go brown, so garnish with whatever you feel like.