Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake {gluten-free}

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake sees in the bounty of early summer spiked with the fruity pepperiness of pink peppercorns.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

During the last few days of my pregnancy I was at the farmer’s market and was offered a taster of cheesecake. Since I was avoiding all sugar due to my borderline gestational diabetes I had to decline. I don’t know whether it was the fact that I hadn’t let any sugar pass my lips for a good month or that I am a sucker for cheesecake anyway but the thought of this humble taster haunted my dreams. I threw a fist to the sky and declared that the very first Sunday after I had the baby I was making a beeline to the farmer’s market to buy up every single last slice of cheesecake they had on offer and devouring it there and then.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

Well it didn’t quite happen like that but since Beau’s birth I have been back to the farmer’s market and treated myself to the odd slice of cheesecake. So much so that Sunday Cheesecake has now become an unfortunate habit. I really should know better than to form food habits as they are so hard for me to break.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

Cheesecake in particular is danger zone territory as it would perhaps be my number one dessert. It definitely grabs second place behind cake for my favourite sweet treat. I can rarely have it out and about though as they don’t often come gluten-free. Which is crazy. So few eateries offer a gluten-free dessert and when they do it’s usually something incredibly boring like poached pears and the inevitable ice cream option.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

However, it’s so easy to make gluten-free cheesecake without compromising on any taste or consistency. All you do is just use gluten-free biscuits as the base. Now I’m very aware that not all gluten-free biscuits are created equal. Most shop bought gluten-free biscuits are in fact diabolical, too sweet and crumbly. But they are definitely getting better and my favourite brands of gluten-free biscuits, Prewett’s and Nairn’s, are actually just as good as any wheat based biscuit. So basically, pick your brand, bearing in mind that supermarket’s own are rarely much cop. Having said that, your biscuits are soaked in delicious butter then layered beneath thick creamy cheesecake and a mound of whipped cream so any lack of biscuit quality is heavily masked.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

To bake or not to bake. There are two main types of cheesecake, one is a no-bake, quickly assembled job without eggs, just cream cheese, cream and sugar. Or the other, which we always knew growing up as New York Cheesecake, which includes eggs and is baked. I love both. No-bake cheesecake is a bit lighter in consistency but I will happily accept any on offer with unabashed glee. Don’t get involved in a discussion about their respective merits though with Luke who is unfairly derogatory about baked cheesecakes and does not see them as worthy of his time. This Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake is baked though and thinking that would mean I could have at it all to myself, I still found him sneaking into the fridge the next day to cut himself several illicit slivers. I even thought the pink peppercorns would dissuade Cole due to their ‘spiciness’ but then I forgot they are red so they only enticed him further.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

The delicate spiciness of the pink peppercorns is the real star attraction of this cheesecake, paired sublimely with this season’s brand new strawberries. The colour of the cheesecake is intoxicating and their spiky hit unexpected.

Pink peppercorns are dried berries from the Baius Rose plant but not strictly peppercorns, as they are actually from the cashew family, rather than being derived from the genus Piper. But they achieved the moniker of peppercorn due to their appearance and their sweet peppery flavour.

Strawberries can take a bit of spice so their pairing works beautifully. The amount of pink peppercorns I’ve included in the batter of the cheesecake is subtle, but the dusting of peppercorns on top can be turned up a notch if you need something spicier.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

To strawberrify the cheesecake I used freeze-dried strawberry powder which really is one of my larder essentials. I use these freeze-dried fruit powders all the time. It’s a godsend ingredient in baking, like in this Chocolate Raspberry Cake, Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake or Raspberry Matcha Cake. However I also use it in smoothies, porridge and my one of my favourite breakfasts – coconut yoghurt mixed with strawberry powder and almond butter. In fact that last option might be worthy of a blog post of its own. So delicious.

Strawberry powder has all the intense flavour of strawberries, in fact more so, but without any of the liquidity of fresh strawberries which messes around with the consistency of the bake. It is an invaluable ingredient for cake batter or buttercreams. And since the powder lives merrily in the larder for a good length of time it means I always have amazing tasting strawberry yoghurt to hand, strawberry season or no.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

For the base of the batter recipe I turned to Ottolenghi, whose cheesecakes really do exemplify the genre. His recipe for Caramel and Macadamia Cheesecake in his original Ottolenghi cookbook holds a special place in my heart as it won me my very own Bake Off title, at our in-house competition at the production company I worked for at about eight years ago. So I used the essential ingredients in that batter for adaptation here.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

I finished off my cheesecake with a beautiful cloud of unsweetened whipped double cream as I love the contrast between the lightness of the cream and the creaminess of the cheesecake. Then I dusted the top generously with more crushed pink peppercorns and strawberry powder. Also, not to be missed on top are the fresh strawberries which are finally in season and we should certainly take advantage of.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

I photographed this cheesecake whilst the royal wedding was playing in the background. It’s amazing how food memories can capture a moment and editing these photos this morning I was suddenly whisked back into the fairytale world of romantic carriages, a gleaming white dress, antique tiaras, incredibly floral displays, diddy bridesmaids and celeb spotting. I’m sure this memory is now set in stone and whenever I make this Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake in the future I will cast a thought to Harry and Meghan.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake

Print Recipe
Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake {gluten-free}
Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake sees in the bounty of early summer spiked with the fruity pepperiness of pink peppercorns.
Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
8-10 people
Ingredients
  • 70 g unsalted butter
  • 160 g gluten-free oat biscuits*
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 600 g cream cheese
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 70 g sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 50 g freeze-dried strawberry powder + ½ teaspoon extra for sprinkling
  • teaspoons pink peppercorns + ½ teaspoon extra for sprinkling crushed
  • 300 g double cream
  • A handful of fresh strawberries for decorating
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
8-10 people
Ingredients
  • 70 g unsalted butter
  • 160 g gluten-free oat biscuits*
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 600 g cream cheese
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 70 g sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 50 g freeze-dried strawberry powder + ½ teaspoon extra for sprinkling
  • teaspoons pink peppercorns + ½ teaspoon extra for sprinkling crushed
  • 300 g double cream
  • A handful of fresh strawberries for decorating
Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and leave to cool for a few minutes just so the butter is warm rather than hot which helps your biscuit base from becoming too greasy.
  3. Whizz up the biscuits and salt in a food processor then with the mixer still on pour in the melted butter until it combines with the biscuit to become a thick sandy texture.
  4. Press the biscuit base into an 8 inch springform tin using the bottom of a glass and push the base slightly up the sides of the tin.
  5. Bake for 8 minutes, remove from oven and leave to cool whilst you make the filling.
  6. Turn oven down to 140°C
  7. To make the cheesecake batter, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
  8. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon juice, strawberry powder and pink peppercorns.
  9. Add eggs one at a time until just blended. Don’t overmix.
  10. You need to bake the cheesecake in a water bath so wrap the outside of the cake tin with tin foil to avoid water seeping in. I used 3 sheets for extra security, making sure they overlapped each other to completely cover up the sides of the cake tin.
  11. Place the tin in a large roasting dish then pour the batter on top of biscuit base, smoothing the surface.
  12. Pour boiling water into the large roasting dish around your cheesecake tin. It should reach an inch up the side of the tin.
  13. Carefully place the roasting dish in the oven and bake the cheesecake for about 60 minutes.
  14. Turn off the heat and leave the oven door ajar for a further 60 minutes before you remove the cheesecake.
  15. Take out the oven, leave to cool to room temperature then place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight to chill.
  16. To remove the cheesecake from the tin, run a knife around the edges of the cheesecake before you carefully release the latch of the springform tin. Use a cake lifter to slide underneath the base of the cheesecake to separate it from the tin and slide back onto a serving plate.
  17. Whip the double cream until thick and floppy but so that it holds its shape a little then dollop on top of the cheesecake, swirling to the edges with a palette knife.
  18. Dust the strawberry powder and the crushed peppercorns over the top. Then finally arrange fresh strawberries in the centre.
Recipe Notes

*I used Nairn’s Gluten-Free Biscuit Breaks Oats & Syrup

Recipe for the cheesecake adapted from the Caramel and Macadamia Cheesecake in the Ottolenghi Cookbook

SHOP THE RECIPE

I would be nowhere without my Magimix 4200XL Food Processor – Satin for making the crust for this recipe. I have easily had it over ten years and I use it nearly every day for whipping up dips, pestos, nut butters, nut and oat flour and making my breadcrumbs. The Magixmix is an impressive piece of kit which even survived being dropped when we moved into our house (although it did have to have the motor replaced but that wasn’t too expensive). I put all the attachments in the dishwasher and they come out brilliantly clean but it also gives just great results. I love my Magimix and along with my Kitchenaid is the piece of equipment I use most often in my kitchen.

Recently I have been using a lot of products from Realfoodsource.com and have been really happy with their service and quality of ingredients. I was excited when I found out they also stocked freeze-dried fruit powder and so for this recipe I really would recommend using RealFoodSource Certified Organic Freeze Dried Strawberry Powder 100G. I am not sponsored by them, I just really love their products.

I don’t think you can go wrong with ingredients from Whole Foods and I used these Peppercorns Pink 250g to make this Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake.

The links above are affiliate links so if you decide to buy anything using the links given then I will get a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

Peach Pretzel Cheesecake

Peach Pretzel Cheesecake
Conversation this week in our house turned towards Christmas. Yes I know it’s miles away but I’m never far from thinking about Christmas, especially when Pinterest makes me think it’s only round the corner from all the festive images that have been cropping up on my homepage this week.

I don’t want any presents this year I declared magnanimously when I wasn’t even asked. There is nothing I want. My husband looked at me in disbelief, so I felt a bit of clarification was needed. All I really want for Christmas is a mound of pretzels, bags of onion rings and some peanut butter Lindt Lindor.

That’s right, Christmas is when my favourite junkiest foods come into play, which might be something to do with why it’s my favourite time of year. I have learnt to forgo crisps and snacking foods all year round, but those that I have an uncontrollable weakness for, mainly the afore mentioned three, are deemed acceptable on December 25th. From January to November, they are banned from the house. If they are within sniffing range then I shall devour them like a hungry lion, ripping apart the defenseless packet with my teeth whilst omitting guttural growls from the most primal part of me.

Peach Pretzel Cheesecake  |  Stroud Green Larder

So the moment when I decided to use pretzels as the base for this creamy peach pie was the first signal of an imminent downfall. The second signal was when the recipe called for 200g of pretzels and Tesco’s only stocked 175g bags. A saner woman would have judiciously decided to scale down the crust recipe to suit this turn of events, but by this time I had become a lion stalking its prey and I deemed the recipe be altered upon pain of death, so I had to buy 2 x 175g bags. What will you do with the rest of the pretzels my husband nervously inquired. I shrugged non-committedly. The way a double crossing CTU agent has learnt to fool even its most seasoned colleagues. I may also have been on a 24 binge this week.

It has taken me all my adult life to try a pretzel-based pie crust. I know cooks have been churning them out of their kitchens for years, pleased to have alternatives to the digestive biscuit. But it has been something I always admired from afar. However this was the next recipe to try on the baking to-do list which I am currently working my way through.

Turns out that little list of mine is throwing out some absolute corkers. The use of pretzels really has raised the bar for all other crusts. Sweetly savoury with a satisfying crunch, it provides the perfect nest for the pillowy bourbon spiked mascarpone cream and the silky buttery peaches.

Thank goodness we’re still in the last vestiges of summer fruit so this insanely amazing combination was made possible; it was definitely the best reason to crack open my Christmas snacks early doors.

Peach Pretzel Cheesecake  |  Stroud Green LarderAnd those excess pretzels? They didn’t even make it to the end of Stroud Green Road as I carried my shopping home.

Peach Pretzel Cheesecake

200g salted pretzels (you can use gluten-free)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
175g unsalted butter, melted
3 peaches, peeled, stone removed and sliced
40g unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon bourbon
250g cream cheese
250g mascarpone
75g icing sugar
2 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 20cm springform tin.
  2. Place the pretzels in a food processor and whizz up to breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine.
  4. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared tin, bringing the crust slightly up the sides and pressing tightly into place.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes then remove from oven and leave to cool.
  6. Next, prepare the peaches by melting the 40g of unsalted butter, then add the peaches. Cook for 10 minutes until the peaches are starting to caramelise at the edges then add the bourbon which will sizzle. Once the bourbon has reduced slightly then remove the peaches from the pan and leave to cool.
  7. To make the bourbon mascarpone cream, pour the cream cheese, mascarpone and icing sugar into a food mixer and whip on high until the cheeses are light and fluffy.
  8. Slowly pour in the bourbon and icing sugar until fully incorporated.
  9. Spooning the bourbon mascarpone cream into the pretzel crust and spread the top evenly.
  10. Place the cheesecake in the fridge overnight to settle.
  11. The next day, when you are ready to eat, arrange the peaches on top, then serve.

Strawberry Snickerdoodle Cheesecake

Strawberry Snickerdoodle Cheesecake

This recipe is not yet gluten-free

Strawberries are where it’s at people. I have been buying punnets of them by the dozen and getting fully involved; jam making, throwing them into salads or just straight from the punnet on the way home from the farmers market. In fact it’s a bit of a miracle I had any left to make this delicious cheesecake.

I have to thank two different food blogs for my inspiration here. Joy the Baker’s Snickerdoodle Strawberry Shortcakes and Lifeloveandsugar’s Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake. I have written about snickerdoodles before in my Snickerdoodle and Marshmallow Blondies, they are an American cookie, as old as the hills, made with and then rolled in brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and not a nutty, caramel chocolate bar. That’s a Marathon.

Strawberry Snickerdoodle Cheesecake  |  Stroud Green Larder

I gave the shortbread base of this cheesecake the old snickerdoodle treatment, and made it just as important as the strawberries and cheesecake with a nice thick layer. There is a lot of base to this but it isn’t a hard set, it crumbles to the fork and the rice flour gives it slight softness like all the best buttery shortbreads.

The cheesecake is set and not baked which gives it a more summery vibe, it is light with cream cheese and freshly whipped double cream and dotted through with the black specks of vanilla. I used vanilla paste for the cheesecake mixture as it feels slightly fresher and of course when you can actually see the vanilla against the white cream it is ever so inviting. Buried inside the cheesecake layer are more strawberries, standing to attention on top of the snickerdoodle base and waiting to give sweet juicy pleasure. The cheesecake is then topped with sliced strawberries, macerated overnight in brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Strawberry Snickerdoodle Cheesecake  |  Stroud Green Larder

This is a perfectly heavenly June dessert, bright with fruit, luscious with cream and satisfying with plenty of buttery biscuit. I think I will be making this again and again this summer.

Strawberry Snickerdoodle Cheesecake

Snickerdoodle Base:
225g unsalted butter
100g soft brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
75g rice flour
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of salt and black pepper

Cheesecake Layer:
300g cream cheese
60g icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla paste
½ tsp lime juice
250ml double cream

Strawberries:
250g strawberries
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line and grease a 20cm round cake tin.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together for a couple of minutes until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, stir to combine.
  4. Sift together the plain flour, rice flour then add to the butter and sugar along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Beat until it starts to come together, then tip into the baking tin and press the dough into the tin.
  5. Bake for 20-30 mins until the top is just starting to turn golden.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin.
  7. Once it has cooled you can make the cheesecake. Mix the cream cheese thoroughly with the icing sugar. Add the vanilla and lime juice.
  8. Whip up the double cream then fold through the cream cheese mixture.
  9. Hull 100g of the strawberries and arrange hulled end down on top of the snickerdoodle shortbread. Then spoon over the cheesecake mixture, making sure to leave no gaps. Even out the top of the cheesecake with a palette knife.
  10. Chill in the fridge overnight.
  11. Whilst it is chilling you can macerate the rest of the strawberries. Hull the fruit then slice lengthways. Coat thoroughly with the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and cover with clingfilm then place in the fridge overnight to take on all the sugary flavours.
  12. The next day, just before serving, carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin and pile the macerated strawberries on top.

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake is the perfect end to a meal. Use the best honey you can find for the deliciously complex and delicate taste.

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake

Last week we were treated to a wonderful talk on bees and beekeeping at our WI meeting. I learnt basic bee stuff in Biology back in the day but I don’t remember them being this fascinating. They are like little machines, programmed to do their own special job within their ecosystem. If something breaks down in the chain then they intuitively follow through with a back-up plan, for instance if the queen dies then they just automatically make another by feeding one of the cells solely with royal jelly rather than honey and pollen. Nature really has it in for the honey bee though and they are constantly under threat by all sorts of diseases and mite infestations.

After the talk we were encouraged to try a selection of local honey. In the past I have never been the greatest honey monster, it always just seemed like sweet goop. However, this honey isn’t like your Sainsburys Basic brand. Instead it is so florally fragrant, you can almost see the wildflowers dancing about in the breeze. It was so interesting that the pots of honey brought from two different producers had completely different tastes, I never knew honey was this complex. The joy of good ingredients is that they can speak directly to you and after my second taste of the honey I immediately imagined this delicate cheesecake sweetened only by the honey bouquet.

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake

London honey is considered a particular delicacy would you believe due to the vast variety of flowers that the bees have access to. It’s not cheap as the batches are made by independent beekeepers, but if you can possibly source local honey from your local farmers market it is totally worth it and the best thing is that you will also be supporting your neighbourhood honey bee. This honey doesn’t need to be relegated to merely toast or crumpets, although would certainly would pep up breakfast time no end, but try it in delicate dressings on your salad leaves, drizzled on top of a light vanilla ice cream or do what I’ve done with this Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake and create a bit of an event out of it.

If you don’t have a food processor, then you can easily prepare the digestive base by hand by placing the biscuits in a plastic food bag, tying the end off so the crumbs don’t escape and giving them a good bash with something heavy, like a rolling pin. It’s really very satisfying.

This cheesecake would be perfect at the end of a meal in lieu of a cheese course, it’s not entirely sweet or savoury but steals pleasurably from both camps.

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake

Print Recipe
Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake
Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake is the perfect end to a meal. Use the best honey you can find for the deliciously complex and delicate taste.
Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Passive Time 4 hours, 15 minutes
Servings
8 people
Ingredients
  • 175 g gluten-free digestives*
  • 75 g unsalted butter melted
  • pinch of salt
  • 375 g soft goats cheese
  • 150 ml british wildflower honey or whatever honey is local to you
  • 150 g sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • Extra honey to drizzle
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Passive Time 4 hours, 15 minutes
Servings
8 people
Ingredients
  • 175 g gluten-free digestives*
  • 75 g unsalted butter melted
  • pinch of salt
  • 375 g soft goats cheese
  • 150 ml british wildflower honey or whatever honey is local to you
  • 150 g sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • Extra honey to drizzle
Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake
Instructions
  1. In a food processor whizz up the digestive biscuits until they resemble breadcrumbs and then pour in the melted butter until completely combined.
  2. Press into an 18cm loose-bottomed cake tin and place in the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
  3. Then place the digestive base in the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
  4. While it’s baking, beat the goats cheese and the honey in a large bowl until smooth.
  5. Add the sour cream and beat again until smooth.
  6. Mix in the eggs, one at a time.
  7. Add the thyme leaves, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and stir in until everything is well incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter on top of the biscuit base and bake for 40 minutes until the top has set but still has a little wobble in the centre.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to come to room temperature in the tin. Then transfer to the fridge and leave to chill for at least 4 hours.
  10. Remove from the tin and drizzle with honey before serving.
Recipe Notes

*If you are based in the UK then the best gluten-free digestive biscuits I can find are Prewetts Digestive Biscuits. Do track them down if you can, I'm a bit of a digestive biscuit fiend and these are a very close match to their gluten rich cousins. If you can't get hold of Prewett's then Nairn's Gluten Free Oats & Syrup Biscuit Breaks also work brilliantly in this recipe.