Neapolitan ice cream was a staple of my childhood summers spent playing in my Nonno and Nonna’s backyard. Instead of popsicles, my grandmother always had a huge tub of this ice-cream at the ready for her sweaty grandchildren to enjoy during muggy Montreal summer days.
That back yard was a world of fantasy. It was a magical place where we would pretend that we were in a secret garden, an eden that produced a wonderful array of fruit and vegetables ranging from the plumpest tomatoes to figs and squash. The basil plants and garlic bulbs braided together under the large deck gave the air a delicious scent and it was hard to not be mesmerized by the rays of sun peeking through the lush grape vines that climbed the balcony walls.
My brother and I would spend the days playing soccer, winding through the rows of tomato plants and trying to climb the apple tree. Sometimes we would collect the tomatoes fallen from the vines and laugh hysterically as we launched them at the passing freight trains, exploding a rain of tomato goo across the tracks.
This is my ode to that perfect garden, to those days that won’t soon be forgotten, to the most wonderful childhood where fantasies and dreams were always encouraged and joy was abundant. This is my homage to the twinkle in their eyes as the sun caught their faces while Nonna reeled in the clothes line and Nonno roamed the garden on the hunt for critters munching the plants.
makes 16 pieces
1 1/4 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tbsp sugar
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 oz semi sweet chocolate, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup good quality strawberry preserves, mashed
1 oz white chocolate, melted
1 oz dark chocolate, melted
fresh strawberries, sliced
edible flowers (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9- inch spring form cake pan with cooking spray.
Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until completely combined. Press firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or with electric beaters, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at at a time until completely incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla.
Divide the mixture equally, amongst three bowls.
Stir the mashed strawberry jam in to one bowl of cheesecake mixture. Stir melted semi sweet chocolate in to another bowl of the mixture. Leave the third bowl plain.
Pour the plain cake mixture over the prepared graham crust, follow with the strawberry mixture and finally the chocolate. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, swirl the mixture to make a marbled pattern.
Bake the cheesecake 50 to 55 minutes or until the centre is just set. Let cool completely before refrigerating 3 hours to overnight. Run a knife around the edges to release the cake and remove the side of the pan.
Garnish with melted white chocolate drizzle, dark chocolate drizzle, fresh strawberries and edible flowers for an extra touch.