With thanks to award-winning chef, Steve James, stevejamesltd.com
180g salt and pepper crackers
125g unsalted butter
60g unsalted butter
1 ½ tbsp caster sugar
¾ tbsp flaked sea salt
100g pecan nuts
Balsamic red onions
1 medium red onion sliced into think wedges (about 10)
1 tsp rapeseed oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
Pinch of salt
To serve 360g cream cheese
250g ricotta cheese
4 medium eggs
Good pinch of salt and pepper
150g Godminster Vintage Organic Cheddar finely grated + 50g grated for the topping
2 tbsp chopped chives
1 conference pear
1 tsp rapeseed oil
Hand full of grapes sliced
A few sprigs thyme
Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin with baking parchment.
For the base blitz the crackers, or crush in a bag with a rolling pin, melt the butter and stir through till well combined. Press into the base and then place in the fridge to set for at least 15 minutes.
Whilst the base is setting you can begin the toppings.
For the candied nuts, place everything in a frying pan, except for the pecans, and melt together. Don’t stir the mixture to begin with or it will crystalise. As it turns a golden caramel colour add the nuts and mix until well coated. Tip out into a bowl and allow to cool, you may need to stir occasionally as it cools to stop them from sticking together.
For the balsamic red onions, toss the red onion wedges in the oil. To save washing up you can use the same pan here the nuts were cooked in. Fry the onion wedges over a medium heat until starting to soften, be careful not to break the wedges up. Pour in the balsamic, sugar and a pinch of salt and cook until the balsamic goes syrupy and coats the wedges and then transfer to a bowl to cool
Preheat the oven to 160c. Place the cake pan with the prepared base on a baking sheet ready to go in the oven. In a large mixing bowl mix together the ricotta, cream cheese and eggs until smooth. Stir through the 150g grated Godminster and the chives and pour over the base. Sprinkle over the remaining 50g grated Godminster and place in the oven for 55 minutes to 1 hour until it is just set, wobbly in the middle but not liquid.
Whilst this is cooking you can make the pears. Peel the pears, half them and then using a teaspoon scoop out the core and seeds. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until extremely hot. Toss the pear halves in the oil and then place on the griddle. Cook for a few minutes, without touching them, until it has dark caramelised lines across the base. Then place in the oven with the cheesecake and bake for 5-10minutes depending on the ripeness of your pears, until a knife can be inserted easily into them, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Once the cheesecake is baked remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool place in the fridge till ready to serve.
When ready to serve, run a palette knife or sharp knife around the edge of the cake pan to release the cheesecake and remove from the tin. Place on a serving platter and then decorate the top with the candied nuts, balsamic onions, roasted pears, sliced grapes and then sprinkle over some thyme leaves to finish.