I have these strange, unshakeable ideas about certain fruits being expensive. I’ll often utter phrases like ‘Oh, I love blueberries but I hardly ever buy them because they’re so expensive’, or ‘I really want a papaya but I don’t think I can justify the money’. And they are pricey, compared to a lot of fruits. It would be very economical to have a penchant for apples, pears or bananas; trying to afford a mango, papaya or raspberry habit, less so. Yet I sometimes have to stop and take a step back from this mentality, and realize that, although proportionately more expensive than other fruits, I can still afford to spend £2 on a punnet of blueberries. These things are not, objectively, ‘expensive’. While I’m technically aware of this, I still find myself avoiding certain fruit purchases in the supermarket out of these strange ideas of affordability.
Passionfruit are an excellent example. One of the most luscious fruits known to mankind, I hardly ever buy them because paying over 50p for a single tiny fruit seems just too extravagant. They’re perhaps the most frivolous of fruits: eating a passionfruit is about pure, hedonistic enjoyment. There’s no substance there to fill you up, and that glorious burst of sunshine-sourness you do get is gone in an instant. Plus they’re completely impractical to eat on the go, unless you travel equipped with a sharp knife, a spoon and some wet wipes. There’s also something odd about a fruit that tastes better the more shrivelled and haggard its skin becomes (this is a sign of ripeness – perfectly spherical, unblemished passionfruit are not really worth eating).
Yet, of course, 50p is not a huge amount of money and sometimes you really should just GO CRAZY and buy the damn passionfruit. Even better, go totally wild (yolo, after all) and buy SIX. Six of these wrinkled, brown, barely-affordable beauties with their luscious, other-worldly, ambrosial golden pulp. Buy them – you’ll still only have spent roughly the same amount as on a cup of coffee – and turn them into these ridiculously good cheesecakes. Wild, I know.
Here, you have a stupidly moreish biscuit base made of shortbread, which is essentially butter, mixed with butter. Are you listening? We’re off to a flying start already. Did I mention that the biscuit base: cheese ratio is such that it’s almost 50:50? Oh yes. Then there’s a lightly set, deliciously sweet and creamy mixture of soft cheese and lime zest, perked up with a spritz of lime juice and rippled with passionfruit pulp. The whole thing is topped off, literally and metaphorically, with more of that glorious sunshine-coloured passionfruit pulp. There’s a wonderful mix of textures – the crunchy passionfruit seeds and crumbly biscuit base with the smooth, sweet cheese – and just the right amount of tangy sharpness from the lime and passionfruit to blend with the sweet cheese (I use a mixture of Quark, a fat-free soft cheese, and cream cheese, which gives the perfect thick, creamy mixture without being too heavy).
These are seriously quick and simple to make (no baking required, just set them with gelatine or a vegetarian alternative), and have a short ingredients list, but they are so much more than the sum of their parts. They’re probably the best unbaked cheesecakes I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a lot of cheesecakes in my time. I like to make them in pretty dessert glasses, and they always elicit admiring looks/noises when they emerge from the fridge. They are also basically enough to make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean. Just look at how bright and sunny they are. Also, did I mention the very buttery shortbread base?
Sometimes, we can spend small amounts of money on ‘expensive’ fruits. Sometimes it’s worth it. This was one of those times.
Lime and passionfruit cheesecakes (makes 4 individual cheesecakes):
- 8 shortbread finger biscuits
- 50g butter
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 250g Quark (fat-free soft cheese)
- 250g cream cheese
- 150g icing sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- 1 sachet gelatine (or vegetarian substitute)
- 6 passionfruit
First, prepare the biscuit base. Blitz the shortbread in a food processor to fine crumbs. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then stir in the biscuits and nutmeg. Divide between four glasses, ramekins or moulds, pressing down gently (don’t press too hard or it’ll set almost solid!), then chill while you make the filling.
For the filling, put the Quark, cream cheese, icing sugar and lime zest in a bowl and whisk to combine. Put the lime juice in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the gelatine over the surface of the juice. Leave for a minute, then whisk the gelatine into the lime juice until fully dissolved. Whisk this into the cheese mixture. Fold the pulp of four of the passionfruit gently into the cheese, then divide between the four glasses/moulds. Chill for at least 4 hours. Just before serving, top each cheesecake with the remaining passionfruit pulp.