Gooseberry and Elderflower cheesecake

Firstly, I must apologise for not posting this sooner.  I made it last week when the elderflowers were still in bloom, and this may not be the case for some of you in the more southerly reaches of the UK. However, all is not lost as you could replace the flower heads with a couple of dessertspoonfuls of Elderflower Cordial if you really wanted to give it a go, and I recommend that you do.  It has the most delicately perfumed taste, with both the gooseberries and the elderflower complementing one another beautifully.

I have two of my school gate friends to thanks for this recipe.  Firstly S for her gift of a punnet of lovely gooseberries. We have about five gooseberry bushes in the garden but we cannot get rid of the mildew which infects them each year.  We have moved them, sprayed them, but still the berries are marred before they are ready.  I think they will have to be sacrificed.  So her offering is very much appreciated. Secondly, S for his inspiration.  He was telling me how he had picked some gooseberries on his allotment and had used them in a gooseberry and elderflower fool.  He had read comments below the recipe that he had sourced online that a biscuit was needed to complete the dessert and so he had used a digestive crumb base.  I thought this sounded very good indeed.

However, I foolishly put more than a splash of water in the gooseberries when I was stewing them and they had a lot more liquid than could be soaked up by a tub of cream.  Fortunately for me I had a tub of mascarpone skulking in the fridge and so instead of fool, I made a cheesecake.  It is funny how a recipe can develop.

For the biscuit crumb base
200g digestive biscuits (or similar)
100g butter, melted

For the cheescake
500g gooseberries, topped and tailed so that the little brown bits at each end are removed
10 freshly picked elderflower heads (or 2 dessertspoons Elderflower Cordial)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
strip of lemon zest (peeled using a veg peeler)
300ml double cream
250g mascarpone

Whizz the biscuits in a food processor until crumbs or place in a large plastic food bag and bash with a rolling pin.  Add the melted butter and stir until well combined.  Pour the mixture into a 23cm flan dish and press down well with a wooden spoon until level. Place in a fridge.

Gently shake any insects off the elderflower heads and place in a pan with the gooseberries, sugar and lemon peel.  Pour in a splash of water (you really do not need very much). Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer for about ten minutes until the gooseberries are soft and mushy. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, pushing through with a spoon to get all of the gooseberry goodness. Leave to cool.

Whip the double cream until softly peaked and stir in the mascarpone.  Stir in the gooseberry puree and pour over the biscuit base.  Chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight.

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