Recipe: Vanilla & strawberry cheesecake and basil ice cream

PUBLISHED: 12:39 08 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:39 08 August 2016

Strawberry and vanilla cheesecake

Strawberry and vanilla cheesecake


Head pastry chef at GreyFriars in Colchester, Darren Stewart, shares his recipe for strawberry & vanilla cheesecake with basil ice cream and a balsamic gel

Darren StewartDarren Stewart

Darren Stewart, head pastry chef at GreyFriars in Colchester, thrives on the thrill of a busy kitchen, but his introduction to the world of pastry happened by accident. ‘I was working for a hotel in Scotland. We had a wedding on and the pastry chef didn’t turn up for work. I had to make cranachan, a traditional Scottish dessert of oats, cream, whiskey and raspberries, for 270 guests!’

Here Darren shares his recipe for a stunning summer dessert...

Vanilla & strawberry cheesecake with basil ice cream with a balsamic gel (serves 12)


For the cheesecake base

60g of butter

60g of castor sugar

60g of demerara sugar

60g of ground almonds

60g of plain flour

For the vanilla Cheesecake

150g of full fat double cream

75g of icing sugar

Zest of one orange

600g of mascarpone

1 vanilla pod (spilt and scraped)

250g of cream cheese

3 bronze gelatine leaves

For the strawberry jelly

200g of fresh strawberries (local if possible)

50g of water

50g of caster sugar

2g of agar-agar

For the basil ice cream

980g of full fat milk

500g of double cream

150g of fresh picked basil leaves

220g of egg yolks

150g of caster sugar

60g of trimoline

150g of fresh picked basil leaves

For the balsamic gel

200g of fresh strawberries (local if possible)

75g of aged balsamic vinegar

30g of sugar


For the cheesecake base, place the ingredients in a mixer and using the K paddle mix to a fine crumb. Line a rectangular tin with greaseproof paper and fill with the base mixture to approx. 3ins. Place in the oven at 170°C (fan oven) for approximately 5-8 minutess, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Go over the base with a rolling pin so that it is flat.

For the vanilla cheesecake, soak gelatine in very cold water. Once softened, squeeze all the water out and leave until ready to use. Cream together the mascarpone and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. In a saucepan, bring the full fat cream, sugar, orange zest and vanilla pod to the boil. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for a few minutes, covered with cling film. Add the softened gelatine into the vanilla cream and stir well. Fold the vanilla cream into the mascarpone mix and combine thoroughly. Pour the mix on to the biscuit base, leaving approximately 5mm from the top and place in fridge for two hours to set.

For the strawberry jelly, blend the strawberries to a puree. In a pan, bring the sugar and water to the boil until sugar dissolves. Add all the ingredients together in a pan and whisk well. Allow the agar-agar to settle for 5minutes before returning to the heat. Bring back to the boil and pour over the top of the cheesecake. Place back in the fridge to set.

For the basil ice cream, bring the milk, cream, trimoline and half of the basil to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover with cling film and leave to infuse for 10minutes. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks in a small bowl. Return the basil cream to the heat to simmer, then strain into the egg mix whisking to temper. Return the mixture to the pot and cook out to 84°C, stirring continuously. Bring a pot of water to boil and place a bowl of iced water on the side. Blanch the remaining basil leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, then chill in the iced water to keep the green colour. Drain the basil and place in a blender, with a little of the ice cream mix, and process on high speed until smooth. Add the remaining ice cream mix, pass through a fine sieve and cool down as quickly as possible. Pour into an ice cream machine and churn. Freeze until needed.

For the balsamic gel, blend the strawberries to a puree. Bring the sugar and strawberry puree to the boil until the sugar dissolves, add the vinegar and whisk. Add all the remaining ingredients together in a pan, whisk and return to the heat. Return to the heat and bring mixture to boil, then leave to simmer for 1-2minutes and remove from heat. Pour the mix into a container and place in the fridge to set. Place the mix in a blender, blend until smooth and pass through a sieve. Place in piping bag until required.

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GreyFriars, High Street, Colchester, CO1 1UG

01206 575913.

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