No-bake cheesecake, subtly flavoured with saffron, cardamom and pistachio
I was recently gifted the most beautifully aromatic Persian Saffron by the Ruby Saffron company. Saffron, known as Kesar in Punjabi, is such a versatile spice, it can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. My favorite use of it is in Ras Malai, which is a dessert made from curd dumplings soaked in a delicious sweet milk, laced with a few strands of the spice and this gives it an amazing flavour which I find very difficult to describe, other than it’s extremely addictive. I could easily drink that milk without the dumplings. In fact, Kesar Dudh (Saffron Milk) is a very popular winter warming drink in Punjab. I will share a recipe for it very soon.
I decided to create something different with the Kesar. I usually make my own cheesecakes with a gluten free biscuit base as I suffer from a wheat intolerance. I played around with some ingredients and the result was phenomenal.
The beauty of this dessert is that it is still quite light and not as heavy as most shop bought cheesecakes. I add the lemon juice as I find it helps the cake set better. You can set it in a greased, loose bottomed 23cm cake tin or alternatively, if you have ramekins you can use those – no need to grease them. You also do not need to remove the saffron strands from the cream, they are edible and will add a slow release of their flavour into the cake.
See the quick recipe below.
300g crushed digestive biscuits (I used Schar Gluten Free)
120g unsalted butter – melted
600g full fat soft cheese (Philadelphia is a good one in the UK)
120g icing sugar – sieved
284 ml tub of double cream – set aside 5 tablespoons for the saffron mixture
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
1 and half teaspoons of vanilla essence
8-10 strands of a good quality Saffron
Quarter teaspoon cardamom powder
Handful of chopped pistachio nuts
- Crush the biscuits in a zip lock bag/plastic bag using a rolling pin, until you get fine crumbs.
- Transfer to a bowl and pour on the melted butter and stir into the crumbs ensuring they are evenly coated with the butter
- Pour into the base of the cake tin or divide equally into the ramekins and press down until you form a firm base. Place in the fridge for an hour to set.
- Warm the 5 tablespoons of cream you have set aside in a microwave or pan for literally 10/20 seconds, then stir in the saffron strands – allow to cool
- Now pour the remainder cream into a bowl and whisk until the cream starts to form soft peaks
- In a separate bowl fold together the cream cheese, vanilla essence, lemon juice, cardamom powder and sieved icing sugar
- Fold in the whisked double cream and the saffron flavoured cream (make sure the cream has cooled down completely)
- Whisk this mixture for about 30 seconds on a medium setting or gently if using a hand whisk
- Remove the base from the fridge and pour this topping over it – dividing equally if using ramekins. Start from the sides and spread evenly into the middle, leaving it with a smooth finish.
- Cover with cling film and place back in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 hours of overnight if you have the time.
- 30 minutes before serving, remove from the fridge and if using a cake tin, place the tin on a can and slowly tap it until the bottom releases and slide out, and sprinkle on the chopped pistachio nuts and serve.