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Belle Helene Cheesecake

ingredients

serves 10-12
1 thin sponge layer, 25-30 cm in diameter and 1 cm thick

for the filling

2 x 425 g cans pear halves
450 g full fat soft cheese
1 cup (225 g) 1/2 lb caster sugar (superfine granulated)
grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
4 eggs, separated
few drops of vanilla essence
300 ml soured cream
30 g powdered gelatine

for the topping

2/3 cup (150 ml) 1/4 pt water
1/3 cup (75 g) 3oz sugar
175 g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
300 ml double or whipping cream, whipped

method

1. Press the sponge layer into a greased loose-bottomed 25-30 cm/10 - 12 inch round cake tin, trimming the cake to fit exactly into the bottom of the tin.

2. To make the filling, drain the canned pears, reserving the juice. Chop 3 of the pear halves and sprinkle over the sponge base in the tin. Keep the remaining pear halves to one side for the decoration.

3. Soften the cheese in a large mixing bowl. Beat in 100 g/ 4 oz of the caster sugar, the lemon rind and juice, egg yolks, vanilla essence and soured cream.

4. Put the gelatine and 8 tablespoons of the reserved pear juice into a small heatproof bowl over a saucepan of hot water and stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

5. Beat the gelatine into the cheese mixture. Leave on one side until on the point of setting.

6. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then whisk in the remaining sugar.

7. Fold lightly but thoroughly into the cheese mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and shake the tin gently to level the surface.

8. Chill for 3-4 hours or until the filling is set.

9. Meanwhile, for the topping, put the water and sugar into a saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved.

10. Bring to the boil and boil for 1-2 minutes.

11. Add the chocolate and beat until the chocolate has completely melted. Allow to cool.

12. Ease the sides of the tin carefully away from the cheesecake and lift the set cheesecake out on the tin base.

13. Pipe the top of the cheesecake with the whipped cream and arrange the reserved pear halves, rounded sides uppermost, on top.

14. Spoon a little of the chocolate sauce over the pears and serve any remaining sauce, thinned with a little water, as an accompaniment.

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