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.

Peach and Cheese Custard Pasties

No, my obsession with cheese and peach jam has not gone too far.  In fact, this creation is the ultimate symbiosis and uses a savoury cheese custard and the vanilla bourbon peach jam I made a couple of weeks ago.  Only after you have made this and eaten it and agreed with me then can we all put it to bed.  I’m not sure if you have looked out of the window but autumn has arrived so a little warm pasty with a sunny peach filling will allow you to say farewell to a successful summer.

These pasties bear a resemblance to what Americans helpfully call hand pies which denotes exactly how they should be eaten, on the go or standing in the kitchen a hot pie nestled in your hand.  I’m not sure if any of these made it past my kitchen door if I’m honest, but if you are more restrained than I then stash one in your pocket for when hunger strikes on a leafy October walk or arrange with a few salad leaves for a light lunch.

Cheese Custard

The custard can keep for a few days in the fridge so you can whip up a batch and it will last you the week.  Feel free to repurpose to a welsh rarebit if the mood takes.  Just add a splash of stout, spread it thickly on toast and pop under the grill for a few minutes under the cheese starts to bubble and brown.

Peach and Cheese custard Pies7
Peach and Cheese custard Pies4
Peach and Cheese custard Pies2

Also, if you can’t be bothered to make your own pastry then shop bought puff pastry also works wonderfully with this filling.  I used Delia’s flaky pastry here from her Complete Cookery Course that to my mind is very difficult to better.

Peach and Cheese custard Pies

Peach and Cheese Custard Pasties
Makes about 24

For the filling
30g butter
50g plain flour
400ml whole milk
150g double Gloucester cheese, grated
50g red Leicester cheese, grated
½ tsp Dijon mustard
3 egg yolks
150g peach jam

For the pastry
220g unsalted butter
350g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg, whisked for the egg wash

Cheese Custard

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat.  Once melted add the flour and stir in to make a thick paste.
  2. In a steady stream pour in the whole milk whisking all the while to disperse any lumps.  Once all the milk is in, bring to a boil but don’t stop whisking.
  3. Add the grated cheese.  Then once melted into the sauce stir in the Dijon mustard and season well.  Turn off the heat.
  4. Put the egg yolks into a large bowl and whisk them together, then take a tablespoon of the cheese sauce and whisk into the eggs quickly but carefully so they don’t have a chance to scramble.  Add another spoon of the cheese sauce and carry on whisking.  Repeat this until you have added almost half the cheese sauce.  At this point it is safe to add the egg mixture back to the rest of the sauce in the saucepan.
  5. Bring to a low boil again then turn off and let the custard cool.  Refrigerate for a few hours before using as it will be much easier to handle.

Flaky Pastry

  1. Measure the butter then wrap in foil and place in freezer for 30 mins.
  2. Grate the butter into the flour, then mix together with a knife cutting through the butter.  Add the salt.
  3. Add a couple of tablespoons of cold water then bring together with your hand into a dough, you can add a splash more water if needed but the dough should not be sticky.
  4. Wrap the pastry in greaseproof paper and leave for 30 mins in the fridge before rolling out.

To assemble:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
  2. You should be able to get 24 discs from this pastry using a 5” round cutter.
  3. Place 1 tbsp of cheese custard and 1 tsp peach jam into the centre of each disc.
  4. Moisten the edges with egg wash and then bring one side of the pastry over the filling and seal down to the other side.
  5. Make a couple of small slits in each pasty with a knife, brush with egg wash and place them on baking trays.
  6. Bake for around 15 mins.

 

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam

There are several key factors which get me out of bed every morning.  The first is Furry Alarm Clock 1 who cannot wait the extra half hour until my alarm goes off to start pawing me in the face to be fed.  The second is Furry Alarm Clock 2 who struts into the bedroom caterwauling his presence for his own serving of breakfast.  But the third is peach jam.  Particularly of the Vanilla Bourbon variety which not only is a perfect balance of sweetness and depth but also makes it okay to have alcohol first thing in the morning without being carted off to rehab.
The Worlds Best Alarm Clock2
The Worlds Best Alarm Clock
Peach jam has been for me, until this wonderful batch of homemade sunshine bubbled its way into existence, thus creating a special place in my heart and permanent place on a spoon into my mouth, relegated to Mediterranean holidays.  Lazy continental breakfasts on sun dazzled terraces with crusty breads, cheeses, ham and fresh orange juice, plucked from the tree and poured down my throat.  I love to slather peach jam liberally over bread with a hefty hunk of manchego sandwiched on top so the jam oozes from beneath dripping stickily down my chin.  But then, I have always been terribly mucky.
Peaches

The recipe has been adapted from blondiescakesblogspot.com and I encourage you to try it before the bouncing peaches leave your local greengrocer as it will make up for the lack of our Indian summer this year.

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam
Makes 8 x 250ml jars

2 kilos peaches (9 large peaches)
675g sugar
75ml lime juice (or juice of 4 limes)
1 vanilla pod, split in half with seeds scraped out
1 tsp almond extract
75ml bourbon
1 x 250ml bottle of Certo liquid pectin

  1. Peel the peaches, remove the stone and cut into smallish chunks.
  2. Put the peaches in a preserving pan with the sugar and lime juice.
  3. Smash the 3 ingredients together with a masher until thick and pulpy.
  4. Add the vanilla seeds and the pod itself.  Put the pan on a medium heat and bring to a rolling boil stirring constantly.  Stir for 3-4 mins then remove from the heat.
  5. Add the almond extract, the bourbon and liquid pectin.  Stir together.
  6. Place back on heat for 2 mins just to meld the flavours together.  The consistency should be nice and thick.
  7. Remove from heat and pour into sterilised jars. Leave to cool then either eat straightaway like me or save for a cold and blustery morning to cheer you up.
Vanilla Peach Bourbon Jam3