Velvety, bitter chocolate cream cheese sits on top of a crisp base of almonds and ground ginger biscuits. Top with nuggets of crunchy almond and fennel seed-studded praline and drizzle with luxurious homemade caramel sauce.
Have we died and gone to cheesecake heaven? Maybe.
The fact of the matter is, once you’ve tasted chocolate and fennel seeds together, you’ll never look back.
My love affair with the delicious duo all started as a curious fourteen year old when my family were dreaming up desserts to take to our temple for Diwali. My mum made chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate and fennel ganache and that was all it took; I’d found my first love.
Ever since that sweet little Diwali, I’ve been stuck in a little bubble experimenting with chocolate and fennel desserts. This is my most delicious creation so far. Are you ready?
My original baked cheesecake recipe is adapted from Kurma Dasa’s Great Vegetarian Dishes. This book helped inspire my love for cooking and I doubt my passion would have grown the way it did without it. In this version I’ve strayed significantly from the recipe in the book, but the basis remains the same.
If you’re throwing a dinner party, celebrating a special occasion or just feeling a little bit indulgent, this cheesecake is the perfect way to show off. With its balance of truffle-like, aromatic and sweet flavours and smooth and crunchy textures, one slice just isn’t enough.
Eggless Dark Chocolate Truffle and Fennel Seed Cheesecake with Almond Fennel Seed Pralines and Caramel Sauce
For the almond biscuit base:
300g ginger biscuits, ground finely
125g melted butter
100g ground almonds
For the dark chocolate truffle and fennel seed filling:
1kg cream cheese
510ml double cream
135g cocoa powder
85ml lemon juice
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tsp ground fennel seeds
For the almond fennel seed praline:
80g skinless almonds, roughly chopped
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
For the caramel sauce:
240ml cream, warmed
40g salted butter
1. For the almond biscuit base: combine the biscuits, almonds and melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 12-inch springform tin. Dust the sides with ground almonds if you have any left over. Refrigerate whilst you get on with the filling.
2. For the dark chocolate truffle and fennel seed filling: in a large bowl, beat together all of the ingredients until it has thickened. Do not overmix.
3. Pour the mix on top of the chilled biscuit base and smooth the top with a wet spoon.
4. Place the cheesecake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 1 ¼ hours or until firm and golden. If you find that the top of the cheesecake is going too brown, cover with foil and continue to bake.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate for 8-10 hours.
6. For the almond fennel seed praline: combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook until copper coloured. Add the almonds and fennel seeds stir through. Quickly pour onto a greased baking sheet on top of a baking tray. Spread out and allow to harden at room temperature. Once completely cooled, break up into small pieces using a toffee hammer, pestle or rolling pin.
7. For the caramel sauce: heat together the sugar and water in a large. Bring to the boil and cook until copper coloured. Turn the heat off. Quickly and carefully pour in the hot cream, whisking all the time. This will bubble and spit (which is why a large pan is necessary) so be very careful. Whisk in the butter. For an extra glossy sauce, finish with a few whizzes from a hand-held blender. Pour into a sterilised jar or cream pourer.
8. Make some holes in the cooled cheesecake with a bamboo skewer and pour 6 tablespoons of caramel sauce on top. Leave to soak in for 30 minutes. Scatter over the crushed pralines. Cut and serve drizzled with caramel sauce.
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