When I recently came across the Instagram feed of Rosie Birkett, a London-based food writer, food stylist, and cook, the first image I saw was of this amazing salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake. It turns out that it is one of her trademark desserts from her first cookbook, A Lot on Her Plate. I invited Rosie to the In the Kitchen With column, but timidly asked if she might develop a semifreddo version for D*S readers. Fortunately for us, she said yes, and that’s what we have on the column this week — Rosie’s salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake semifreddo. Once you see how easy it is to make, I am sure you will start experimenting with your own variations. If you do, let us know, and stay tuned for a few of my favorite versions here on the column this summer. —Kristina
Why Rosie loves this recipe: One of the superstars of my first cookbook, A Lot On Her Plate, has without a doubt been the salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake recipe. I think the secret of its appeal is the fact that it looks so evil and rich, but is in fact amazingly light and moreish — and of course, an irresistible combination of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy. When I did my restaurant residency (a crazy week of cooking dishes from A Lot On Her Plate) at Carousel in Marylebone, the cheesecake was a favorite of the diners, to the point where people came up to me after the meal and raved about it — the most amazing feeling! When I started thinking about variations of the recipe to create exclusively for Design*Sponge that would still tick all of the boxes in terms of taste and texture, I thought it would be really cool to create a frozen version for readers to make at home, without needing an ice cream machine. I hope you enjoy, but be warned, it is rather addictive… This dessert pays homage to my favorite snack of all (popcorn!) and is perfect for a summer dessert – what is not to love?
Photography by Helen Cathcart
For the Salted Butterscotch Sauce
-2 tablespoons / 30g unsalted butter, diced
-3/4 cup / 180ml double (heavy) cream
-2/3 cup / 145g light muscovado sugar
-2 tsp sea salt
For the Semifreddo:
-1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 80g golden caster sugar
-1 cup plus 3 tablespoons / 284ml double cream
-1/2 pound 200g soft cheese (I like Philadelphia)
-3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 200ml creme fraiche (to make your own, click here)
-1 ounce / 30g popped salty popcorn
1. First make the salted butterscotch sauce by melting together all the ingredients over a gentle medium heat in a non-stick saucepan, stirring until you have a smooth, silky sauce. Allow to cool while you mix together your semifreddo base.
2. Whip the cream to soft peaks, then in another bowl beat together the soft cheese, sugar and creme fraiche until smooth and combined.
3. Fold the sweetened creme fraiche mixture through the double cream gently. Line a loaf pan or another high sided roasting pan with parchment paper. Spoon in about a third of the cream mixture, smoothing it out across the bottom of the tin to make an even layer.
4. Pour over a third of the butterscotch sauce and carefully swirl it through the cream with a teaspoon or skewer.
5. Pour over another third of the cream, and then another third of the sauce, and repeat. Top with the last layer of cream (reserving the final third of sauce) and smooth out with a palette knife. Wrap the loaf tin with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 3 hours.
6. To serve the semifreddo, run a palette knife around the edges of the pan and turn it out onto a platter or slate. Top with the remaining butterscotch sauce and throw on the popcorn. Enjoy!
About Rosie: Rosie Birkett is a food writer, food stylist and cook. She writes for magazines such as Olive, Grazia and Jamie Oliver Magazine and newspapers including The Guardian and The Independent. Her food styling has appeared in The Guardian’s food supplement Cook and in Olive Magazine. As an authoritative food writer and editor, she has worked with some of the world’s best chefs, built up a significant following on Twitter and appeared on Masterchef and London Live. In 2013, after writing a foodie guidebook with world renowned chef Alain Ducasse, called J’Aime London, she spent a four-month sabbatical living in Vancouver, British Columbia, and writing, cooking and traveling throughout the States and Mexico. You can find Rosie’s A Lot on Her Plate channel on Youtube here, read her blog here, and see her Instagram feed here. She lives in Hackney, East London.