Spice lemon & rhubarb cheesecake

Inspiration for this spiced lemon cheese cake and rhubarb jelly came from Bangers & Mash and Swallow's Recipe for Life challenge. Each month they challenge bloggers to create a recipe using three core ingredients plus bits and bobs from the store cupboard. May’s ingredients are rhubarb, lemon and spices.

With a glut of rhubarb that friends are already throwing our way, this was a perfect opportunity to get experimenting. The other inspiration for this desert came from a flavour spice combination Michel Roux used on Saturday Morning Kitchen a few years ago, when he roasted a pineapple. I tried the roast pineapple recipe at the time and using star anise and Szechuan pepper corns is a bit of a taste sensation. So I made a lemon syrup with the same spice combo and created a tasty cream concoction that I think complements the ginger nut base and rhubarb jelly.

There are a few processes involved, but nothing too challenging.


300g rhubarb, 300ml water and 3-6tsps caster sugar.

1 lemon, 200ml water, 8 Szechuan peppercorns, ¼ star anise (about 4 prongs), 100g caster sugar.

100g cream cheese, 120ml double cream, sachet of gelatine (12g)

8 ginger nut biscuits, 20g butter

Other things you’ll need - To serve this desert standing freely on a plate you’ll need a chef’s ring, some baking parchment, and a few paper clips. The easier method is to create and serve the desert in a ramekin; reusing one of the GU glass desert pots works really well.

Here’s how

  1. Chop the rhubarb into 3-4 cm long chunks, add the water and simmer for 25 minutes on a low heat. Whilst it is simmering DO NOT stir the rhubarb.
  2. For the bases, place the ginger nuts and the butter in a food mixer and blend until crumb like.
  3. Here’s where you have to make the choice, both ways work but one looks fancier than the other.
    • If you use a ramekin, spoon some of the crumb in and gently press it down. A cocktail muddling spoon or espresso coffee press work well.
    • If you want to use the chef ring method, cut a piece of greaseproof paper to the same thickness as your chef ring. Put the paper inside the ring and paper clip it at the top to the sides. Once paper clipped spoon the mixture in and press down.
  1. Place the bases in the fridge. There should be enough to make four cheesecakes.
  2. Once the rhubarb has simmered, pour the juice through a sieve into a glass measuring bowl. Just let the liquid run through and do not press the rhubarb pulp through. You could save the pulp for a bowl of porridge for breakfast.
  3. In your measuring jug you should have a lovely pink coloured liquid with a fragrant smell of rhubarb.
  4. Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler and squeeze the juice into a small saucepan.
  5. Add the star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, the 100g of caster sugar and 200ml of water to the pan and simmer on a medium heat for 25 minutes.
  6. Once the lemon is simmering, it’s time to add some sugar to the liquid. This is very much a taste thing, I like the rhubarb to keep a slight tartness as the lemon cream mixture provides the sweetness. As a guide, I use a teaspoon of sugar per 100ml of liquid.
  7. In order to make the rhubarb jelly you will need 300ml of the scrummy rhubarb liquid. Put in a sauce pan and bring to the boil.
  8. At the same time boil a kettle and pour some boiling water into a mixing bowl.
  9. As soon as the rhubarb liquor is boiling, tip the boilng water in the mixing bowl away, pour in the liquor and sprinkle half the sachet of gelatine over. With a whisk, mix thoroughly.
  10. Once all the gelatine is mixed in, place in the fridge to cool.
  11. Strain the spiced lemon mixture. It should be a light syrup like consistency.
  12. Once the lemon mixture has been strained it’s time to create the spiced lemon creamy cheese mixture.
  13. In a mixing bowl, place the cream cheese and cream. Whisk until smooth.
  14. Place 100ml of the lemon mix in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil.
  15. As with the rhubarb jelly, put some boiling water into another mixing bowl and tip out before adding the just boiled syrup, sprinkling over the gelatine and mix. Heating the bowl up prior to adding the liquid stops it from cooling to quickly and helps dissolve the gelatine.
  16. Once the gelatine has dissolved add the lemon syrup to the cream mixture and whisk until it thickens.
  17. Spoon the cream mixture on top of the ginger nut base and place it back in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  18. After the 15 mins pour or spoon the cooled rhubarb jelly over the cream mixture.
  19. Leave until jelly has set. If using the ramekin you’re ready to enjoy your desert.
  20. If using the ring, take the paper clips off and place your hands around the ring for about 30 seconds. This will warm the ring slightly and should make it easier to slide the ring off.

If you like this recipe, why not check out other richinflavour recipes.