Chocolate and orange is a flavour combination that has been termed as magical because of its contrast. Chocolate is rich, intense and lush, whereas orange is fresh, fruity and zesty. The citrus tones balance off the fatty mouthfeel perfectly, creating an incredible fusion of flavours.
If you’ve not tried baking with mandarin orange before, this will be an exceptional treat. Whereas oranges tend to be tart, tangy and spiky, the flavour profile of mandarins can be described as sweet, warm and mellow.
Also, the flavour from oranges is concentrated on the zest, but with the mandarins you can use the entire rind. In this recipe, we cut up the mandarin to remove the seeds and then blended it, rind and all. One large mandarin should yield about half to two-thirds cup of pulp.
If you were to use an orange instead of a mandarin, grate the zest from the orange and squeeze in two-thirds cup of juice as a substitute.
This cheesecake doesn’t taste too sweet because I have melted bittersweet chocolate chips into the mousse, but you may choose to use semi-sweet chocolate instead. If you prefer, you may even substitute with dark chocolate instead and I can imagine the dark rich decadence of the cheesecake.
Some cheesecakes do not have a biscuit base, but I really love cheesecake with a crusty bottom. Catherine Lau’s biscuit base recipe from Flavours magazine gives us a toasty crust that is firm enough to hold the mousse but crumbles when we put a fork to it.
Make sure that you do not skip the final step and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for at least 1 hour. This is because the baking temperature was set very low so that mousse doesn’t expand and crack the top. The gradual cooling will give time for the centre of the mousse to set and not wobble when it is finally removed from the oven.
- For Biscuit Base:
- 200g digestive biscuits
- 50g chocolate cereal or cornflakes
- 25g brown sugar
- 25g cocoa powder
- 30g almond flakes, toasted
- 125g unsalted butter
- For Chocolate mousse:
- 50g all-purpose flour
- 35g cocoa powder
- 570g cream cheese, softened
- 50g castor sugar
- 250ml heavy cream
- 3 eggs
- 175g bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
- 1 large mandarin orange, seeded and blended into a pulp
- or zest of 1 orange and 150ml juice
- For garnish:
- 2 large mandarin oranges, seeds and pith removed
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- Line the bottom of a 25-cm spring-form pan with parchment paper. Blend all the dry biscuit base ingredients together in a food processor into a coarse meal.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a pan or wok. When butter starts to brown, turn down heat to low and add the dry blended ingredients. Toss until all the butter is absorbed into the biscuit base and a toasty fragrance begin to emerge.
- Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared spring-form pan until there is no indentation when pressed with a finger. Chill the pan in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes until needed.
- Sift flour and cocoa powder together.
- Beat cream cheese until soft, then add sugar. Gradually add heavy cream, eggs, orange pulp, sifted flour and cocoa, and chocolate, beating after the addition of each ingredient. If using a stand mixer, scrape the bowl and paddle after beating each additional ingredient.
- Pour the mousse over the biscuit base in the spring-form pan. Bake at 225°C for 10 minutes, then open the oven door to release the heat. Turn the oven down to 125°C and continue baking for 30 minutes. Then turn the oven off and allow the cake to cool in the oven as the mousse sets for about 1 hour.
- Garnish with mandarin orange segments and a dusting of icing sugar. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.