Delia says:“I have been making cheesecake since I first started cooking and this particular one is the best so far. The flavour of the vanilla is enough on its own if you don’t want to serve the sauce and the nuts I am a great fan of vanilla anyway and Ndali is the best extract I’ve come across.”

SERVES 8

For the base:

200g pack shortbread fingers

50g butter melted

For the filling:

300g soft cheese

350ml crème fraiche

175g golden caster sugar

25g plain flour

3 large eggs, beaten

1 dessertspoon Fair Trade Ndali Vanilla Extract

For the topping:

75g pecan nuts, roughly chopped

300ml maple syrup, No. 2 Amber

You will need: a baking tray and a 20cm sandwich tin at least 4cm deep with a loose base, or a 20cm spring-form cake tin, greased and lined with a circle of Bake-O-Glide or baking parchment. If the tin is less than 4cm you will need to line the sides as well, making sure the Bake-O-Glide or parchment is a couple of centimetres about the level of the tin.

1 Preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6.

Ahead of time combine the pecans with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup, tossing them around to coat them evenly. Then spread them out on a baking tray lined with Bake-O-Glide or baking parchment and bake them on the centre shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, so they are nicely browned and caramelised. Then remove them from the oven and let them cool.

2 Lower the oven to 150C, gas mark 3

First blitz the biscuits into crumbs in a food processor then tip them into a bowl and add the melted butter and give it a thorough mix. Next press the crumbs evenly into the base of the lined tin using the back of a metal spoon to give it a smooth surface.

3 Now make the filling. In a bowl mix together the cream cheese, caster sugar and flour. Then stir in the crème fraiche, beaten eggs and vanilla.

4 Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and place it on a baking tray in the lower half of the oven. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, by which time the cheesecake will be barely coloured, it should be just set firm on the edge but still slightly wobbly in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool (the surface may crack a little but don’t worry) before placing it in the fridge for several hours to firm up.

5 To serve the cheesecake, sprinkle the prepared caramelised pecan nuts and pour over half the maple syrup. Serve cut into slices, with the rest of the maple syrup in a jug.

Copyright Delia Smith 2012

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