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.

Biscoff Ice Cream

Biscoff Ice Cream

This recipe is not gluten-free

This year I have mainly been baking with my new favourite ingredient.

Biscoff Spread

But to be honest, I’m not really sure what to call it. It’s a biscuit spread of mystery, called many names but not answering to any one. The confusion began when I noticed on Pinterest that everyone was banging on and on about this Biscoff spread which they were using in cakes, frosting, cookies. Don’t care how I wanted it now. I love those Biscoff biscuits, although the only time I have ever had them is on holiday wrapped individually and served with my mid morning coffee.

This spread was really hard to find. I looked for it everywhere online but the only place which sold it was an American supplies shop and it was out of stock but they promised to send me some as soon as it came back in so I was forced to wait. I’m not very patient so that was rubbish.

Biscoff Ice Cream

Then, one fateful day I received an email to say some new stock was in and a pot of the good stuff was winging its way to me. I seized upon poor postie the next day like a baking banshee and immediately set about making the luxurious cake frosting recipe I had reverently set aside for this hallowed ingredient and squidged it within the layers of a dark chocolate cake.

The results were all I could have hoped for. The spread is divine, you can eat it straight from a pot with a spoon. Not that I did that. Much. I made the same cake incessantly until the pot had run dry.

Then a few weeks later I was at a friend’s house rifling through her pantry, like ya do when I saw she had a pot of this spread. I waggled it in her face, ‘Where did you buy this?’ I cried out. ‘Oh, I just got it from Sainsburys’. She said offhand. I felt cheated. Ruddy Sainsburys all along. However, when I looked a bit closer at the label it was no wonder a thickie like me couldn’t find it as for some reason in the UK the spread literally appears to have no name. All that’s on the label is the brand, Lotus’ and its tagline ‘The Original Caramelised Spread’ which is pretty confusing.

Biscoff Ice Cream

Apparently this spreadable version came about when Els Scheppers from Belgium entered a TV contest called ‘De Bedenkers’ (The Inventors) and bowled everyone over with her recipe for converting Lotus Speculoos biscuits (which is what they are called in Belgium to add to the branding intrigue) into a spread. She was contacted by the Lotus manufacturers and they got together and released this to the world in 2011. Since then it’s pretty much taken the baking world by storm and you can search for recipes which turn this spread into pretty much any type of cake, biscuit or brownie. Still, what I wanted this weekend was ice cream.
I like to stock up on ice cream around Christmas as it makes really quick desserts at a time when there is a lot of other baking going on. This ice cream is perfect as the caramel and cinnamon flavours in the Biscoff spread marry perfectly with the season to be jolly.

Whipping it up takes no time at all, just a couple of short bursts of activity over a couple of days. It is ice crystal free, sweet, cold and creamy. In short, it is a freezer must have.

Biscoff Ice Cream

Biscoff Ice Cream

Makes about 1 litre

300ml whipping cream
200ml whole milk
150g soft brown sugar
175g Lotus’ The Original Caramelised Biscuit Spread
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. In a saucepan heat up the whipping cream, whole milk and sugar to just below boiling point.
  2. Remove from the heat. Put the Biscoff spread in a large bowl and pour some of the cream mixture over the spread, stirring together so the spread loosens up. Pour a bit more cream mixture in and again stir together. Repeat this until all the cream mixture has been incorporated by the spread.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and stir in.
  4. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and place immediately into the fridge. Leave overnight to thoroughly chill.
  5. The next day churn in an ice cream machine for about 20-30 mins until it has thickened up to a soft serve consistency. Then transfer into a tub and put into the freezer overnight to set.