We’ve been together long enough now for you to know that I’m not that kind of girl.
You know, the kind that would unexpectedly ambush you with clean eating, which is what most sweet potato recipes are these days. Before we go any further, you can take a deep breath. I am not going to mash together sweet potato and raw cacao and claim they are as good as real brownies; nor am I going to put slices of sweet potato into my toaster in an attempt to reduce my carbs whilst insisting that I don’t miss sourdough toast at all. This recipe was made for a Band of Bakers event which, with 30-odd people in a room all scoffing cake, is about as far from clean eating as you can get.
I’m not judging those people; and whilst I understand the health benefits of sweet potato, and appreciate that it’s natural sweetness can be a virtuous substitute for more of the nefarious ingredients we put into our desserts; I’m just not into bastardising those items that I have as an occasional treat. For me, cheesecake is the ultimate indulgent dessert; to be enjoyed at the end of long dinners or to cry into when you’ve been dumped, and if it doesn’t have full-fat cream cheese and a base made of biscuits and butter, I’m just not interested. Sorry, but it’s true. If I want something healthy, I’ll eat something healthy. If I want a blow out, I eat cheesecake.
The theme for the Band of Bakers event this cheesecake was for was Desert Island Bakes. Taking inspiration from Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, the idea was that you would bring along the one bake you would take with you if you were to be stranded on a dessert island. For those of us with an almost obsessive love of food, this is a difficult decision. For me, it was all about incorporating three things I love the most at this time of year: cheesecake, sweet potatoes and caramel. Maybe not the easiest thing to take to a desert island, but I confess I wasn’t thinking much about the logistics.
This cheesecake is pretty easy to make. If ginger’s not your thing, you can make it with a digestive or oat biscuit base instead. I cannot stress enough the importance of letting your sweet potato sit in a sieve; there is more water in them than you would think.
Sweet Potato Cheesecake
For the biscuit base:
200g ginger biscuits
100g melted butter
For the cheesecake:
500g sweet potato, peeled and diced
750g cream cheese
300g caster sugar
3 large eggs
250ml single cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
For the caramel pecans
200g granulated sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
125g pecans, roughly chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Note: you will need to start preparing this recipe several hours before.
Boil the sweet potato until tender and then mash thoroughly. Transfer the mash to a large sieve set over a bowl and leave for six hours, or overnight, to allow some of the water to drain out.
Preheat the oven to 175°c. Butter a 23cm springform cake tin and line with a single sheet of foil.
To make the base, pulse the ginger biscuits in a food processor to fine crumbs. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then tip in the biscuit crumbs and mix until the mixture has the consistency of damp sand. Press this mixture into the base of the tin, but not up the sides, until the base is fully covered.
Note: if you do not have a food processor, you can put the biscuits in a ziplock bag and beat with a rolling pin until fully broken up. Depending on the size of your food bags, you may need to do this in batches.
In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand-mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and beat until fully combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and, finally, the mashed sweet potatoes, single cream, vanilla, nutmeg and ginger. Scrape this mixture over the biscuit base in the prepared tin and and bake for about one hour. It should be mostly set with a slight wobble in the middle. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely.
Make the caramel pecans by bringing to a boil the sugar, golden syrup, salt and water in a large saucepan. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the pecans. Continue cooking until the mixture darkens, then quickly stir in the butter, vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda. Immediately pour on to a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and allow to set.
Remove the cheesecake from the tin and crumble the pecans over the top.
One year ago: Scrambled Eggs with Sumac, Pine Nuts and Parsley
Other sweet potato recipes from More than Just Toast:
Sweet potato and chorizo breakfast tacos
Sweet potato, chorizo and caramelised onion hash with baked eggs
Sweet potato pancakes