As a child I was never particularly keen on ice cream! Yes, I was a fussy child, but I would always manage to make an exception for Neapolitan Ice Cream. The triple striped layer of vanilla, strawberry & chocolate always enticed me. It was simply far more exciting and tasty than plain old vanilla. Having bought a block of the ice cream the other week the idea of a Neapolitan Cheesecake came to mind. The thought of the classic Neapolitan flavours - chocolate, vanilla and strawberry - layered in a baked cheesecake meant that such a dessert was soon going to be adorning our dining table!
Before making our Neapolitan cheesecake, I undertook a brief Google search to identify any defined order for arranging the three Neapolitan layers. It appears there isn't, although the vast majority appear to position the vanilla centrally during the
layering process. I also discovered, having read Ice cream History, that the popular Neapolitan ice cream was created in Italy way back in the early 19th century. It was introduced to America in the 1870s from Italian immigrants who called the triple layered block ice cream Spumoni.
Now, the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that the strawberry layer is in fact a set strawberry coulis rather than cheesecake. The intention had been to construct all three layers with a delicious creamy cheesecake but during the layering up process it soon became evident that the vanilla layer, which I wanted to sit between the strawberry and chocolate layers to make the colours more distinctive, was too soft to be able to support the strawberry layer. So, deciding not to risk spoiling our Neapolitan Cheesecake dessert I compromised and baked it with just the chocolate & vanilla layers. The strawberry layer was then applied as a soft set jelly just before serving, in much the same way as I did with our Bilberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake. Although it would have been nice to have had all three layers as a cheesecake, I was still more than happy with the result, both visually and on the pallet.
The lovely hue arising from the set strawberry coulis certainly gives this Baked Neapolitan Cheesecake enough presence to be served as it is. Though, if you want to make the dessert appear a little more special a few piped rosettes of Chantilly cream really does the trick especially when finished with a handful of fresh strawberries. And if you fancy
going a step further, those strawberries would look great dipped in melted chocolate!
This Baked Neapolitan Cheesecake is made with a digestive biscuit base,
topped with a milk chocolate cheesecake layer and followed with a
delicious vanilla cheesecake mix. A soft set strawberry coulis
completes the dessert, bringing extra freshness and a lovely strawberry
So let's get to it and bake.
Baked Neapolitan Cheesecake
Yield: 1 cheesecake
Serves: 10 - 12 good slices
Time: hands on time about 30 minutes; plus 60 - 65 total bake time; plus cooling and chilling time.
You will need:
1 x 20cm spring form cake tin (ideally lip free)
Electric Beaters (ideal, though not essential)
Roasting Tin large enough to sit the cake tin in
Piping Bag (optional)
Star Piping Nozzle (optional)
For the Biscuit Base
220g Digestive Biscuits
70g Unsalted Butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
For the Cheesecake Layers
600g Cream Cheese, full fat & good quality
150g Sour Cream
2 large Eggs, lightly beaten
1 Lemon, Zest of
60g Milk Chocolate, melted
1 capful Vanilla Extract
1.5 tbsp Golden Caster Sugar
Strawberry Layer and Decoration
400g (approx.) Fresh Strawberries
3 tbsp Water
1 x sachet Vegetarian Gelling Powder (we used Dr Oetker's Vege-Gel)
100ml cold Water
100ml Double Cream
1 tsp Icing Sugar
1 capful Vanilla Extract
How to make it:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 170c / Fan 150c / Gas 3.
2. Prepare the cake tin. Grease and fully line your cake tin with greaseproof paper. Cut a strip of tinfoil around 40cm long. Sit the cake tin in the centre of it. Bring the tin foil up the side of the tin, and scrunch to secure. The tin foil needs to come at least half way up the sides of the tin.
3. Make the base.
Place the butter into a medium pan and set over a gentle flame to melt. Meanwhile, crush the biscuits either in a food processor or encase them in a clean
tea towel (perhaps in two batches) and use a rolling pin or can to crush them until they are a sandy consistency. Pour the biscuit crumbs into the melted butter. Mix until all of the biscuits crumbs have been
coated in the butter. Tip into the prepared cake tin and smooth out. Press it down
with the back of a teaspoon to compact the mixture. Place into the oven
and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Keep
the oven on, set at the same temperature.
4. Start making the cream-cheese body.
Place the cream-cheese into a large bowl and beat with the electric
beaters (or by hand with a wooden spoon) on a slow setting for 1 or 2
minutes (see note b). Add the sour cream and lemon zest and beat again. Add the beaten eggs in
two stages, beating well after each addition. Decant half of the cream cheese mixture into another bowl.
5. Flavour the two cheesecakes. Add the slightly cooled melted milk chocolate into one of the bowls. Mix until the chocolate is well combined with the cream cheese. Add the vanilla and sugar to the other mixture and mix well.
6. Decant into the cake tin. Pour the chocolate cheesecake mixture onto the
biscuit base. Carefully level the mixture out with the back of a teaspoon aiming to avoid disturbing the biscuit crumb. Gently spoon the vanilla mixture on top of the chocolate layer. Level the mixture out, again aiming not to disturb the chocolate layer beneath.
7. Bake and cool.
Place the cake tin into a roasting tin and position it in the centre of the oven. Pour water into the roasting tin so that it comes half way up
the side of the cake tin, though not beyond the top of the tin foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature
to 140c / Fan 120c/ Gas 1 for a further 40 - 45 minutes. The cheesecake
will still have a slight wobble in the centre when it is ready.
At this point, turn the oven off leaving the cheesecake in the oven for
a further 2 hours sat in the water bath. This will help it cool down
slowly and hopefully avoid a crack developing in the top. After 2
hours remove from the oven and roasting tin. Once fully cold, cover and
place in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
8. Prepare the strawberry topping.
Wash the strawberries. Set aside a few nice small ones to decorate the top of the cheesecake. Chop the remainder of the berries and place into a small pan with about 3 tablespoons of water. Sit over a medium heat and allow them to cook and release their juice into the water, stir
periodically. Measure 100ml of cold water into a cup or jug and add roughly half of the powder from the vegetarian gelling sachet. Add this to the strawberry mixture and stir to combine. Allow it to come back to the boil. Remove from the heat. (see note c below.)
9. Add the strawberry layer to the cheesecake. Sit the bottom third of the pan in a bowl of cold water to encourage the jelly mixture to cool down, stirring constantly. Finger test the heat of the mixture and once cool enough spoon it over the top of the cold cheesecake. Work quickly as the vegetarian jelly sets very quickly.
10. Remove your cheesecake from the tin. Remove the tinfoil
from the sides of the tin. Unclip the cake tin,
loosening it to reveal the cake. Gently peel away the grease proof
paper. Transfer to your chosen cake stand or plate. (see note d below.)
11. Decorate with chantilly cream and strawberries. Pour the
double cream into a bowl. Add the vanilla extract and icing sugar.
With a balloon whisk, whisk until it has reached soft peak stage. Avoid
over whisking. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and
pipe rosettes around the edge of the cake. Alternatively use a
teaspoon to blob small mounds of the cream on the cheesecake. Top with
a) The tinfoil will help prevent any water from entering the cake tin and spoiling the cheesecake whilst it sits in the water bath.
b) Aim to beat the cheesecake mixture rather than whip it, as the latter is more likely to incorporate air into the mixture resulting in a bake which is less smooth.
c) We used Dr Oekter's Vege-Gel to set the strawberry topping. It's easily found in the baking aisle of most supermarkets, but should you use another brand you may need to prepare and use it in a different way.
d) A lip free spring-form cake tin will make it easier to transfer the
cheesecake to your serving plate. However, if the base of your cake tin
has a lip, like ours, you may find it easiest to keep the cheesecake on
the base rather than risk breaking the cheesecake during the tricky
transfer. To prevent the base of the cake tin moving around on your
chosen cake stand / plate, simply sit it on a piece of folded kitchen
e) Consider dipping the fresh strawberries in melted chocolate before decorating the top of the cheesecake.