“It’s a sign Autumn is here when Ben our forager brings elderberries into the kitchen. Those vibrant, deep shades of reds and purples will stain anything within 100 yards, be warned! The flavour of the syrup is salty, sweet, earthy with a tang. Serve with any ice cream you like. I have used cinnamon, made at Cafe St Honoré with sticks instead of cinnamon powder as it has a finer, more refined flavour.”
Prep time: 30 minutes; Cooking time: 1.5 hours
300g peeled pumpkin flesh
4 tablespoons crowdie cheese
2 tablespoons caster sugar
4 digestive biscuits
1 teaspoon pumpkin seeds
40g unsalted butter, melted
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of mixed spice
2 scoops of ice-cream to serve, optional
Mint to garnish, optional
For the elderberry syrup:
250g elderberries, removed from their stalks with a fork, and lightly crushed
1/2 a lemon, sliced
1-inch piece of ginger
1/2 a cinnamon stick
Enough water to cover
200g caster sugar
Begin by making the syrup. Bring all the ingredients to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or so on a moderate heat. Strain through a fine sieve or muslin, squeezing every last drop out. Be careful and wear an apron as the mixture may splash and stain your clothes.
If you have 200ml of juice, add 200g of caster sugar to the liquid (if you have 150ml juice, add 150g sugar, etc) and bring to a gentle boil on a moderate heat and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve or muslin again, and leave to cool in a jar or container with a sealed lid. A sterilised jar is great.
Heat oven to 200°C / Gas Mark 7
To make the cheesecake, cook the pumpkin flesh in a hot oven for 30 to 40 minutes to ensure its soft. Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 160°C. Place the pumpkin in a bowl and smash with a whisk until smooth. As it cools, add the crowdie cheese, a pinch of mixed spice and cinnamon, and beat in the egg and sugar. Set to one side.
Next, bash the biscuits and seeds until they have a very fine sand texture - use a processor if required. Add the melted butter, a pinch of cinnamon and mixed spice and combine.
Oil two 4-inch metal ring and spoon in half the base mixture into each, pressing down firmly. Next, top each base with the cheesecake mix and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until just cooked. Allow to cool and be careful when removing the metal rings. Run a small, hot knife round the edge of the cheesecake before attempting to remove the ring.
Serve with your favourite ice cream and a trickle of elderberry syrup and crumble any leftover biscuit base over the top and top with a sprig of mint.