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

How do you make a gluten-free cheesecake crust?

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.

However gluten-free supermarket offerings are 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 Luke 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.

What are Pink Peppercorns?

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

Freeze-dried strawberry powder

To give the cheesecake a good strawberry flavour we use freeze-dried strawberry powder which is a baking essential these days. Freeze-dried fruit powders are absolutely invaluable to add an intense flavour profile. 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

If you love cheesecake then have a look at these!

Shop the Recipe:

  • Food Processor
  • Freeze-Dried Strawberry Powder
  • Pink Peppercorns

I urge you to give this Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake a try. If you do then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which helps others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own culinary creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

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.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time3 hrs
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 658kcal


  • 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


  • Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bake for 8 minutes, remove from oven and leave to cool whilst you make the filling.
  • Turn oven down to 140°C
  • To make the cheesecake batter, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
  • Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon juice, strawberry powder and pink peppercorns.
  • Add eggs one at a time until just blended. Don’t overmix.
  • 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.
  • Place the tin in a large roasting dish then pour the batter on top of biscuit base, smoothing the surface.
  • Pour boiling water into the large roasting dish around your cheesecake tin. It should reach an inch up the side of the tin.
  • Carefully place the roasting dish in the oven and bake the cheesecake for about 60 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and leave the oven door ajar for a further 60 minutes before you remove the cheesecake.
  • Take out the oven, leave to cool to room temperature then place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight to chill.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dust the strawberry powder and the crushed peppercorns over the top. Then finally arrange fresh strawberries in the centre.


*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


Calories: 658kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 55g | Saturated Fat: 30g | Cholesterol: 243mg | Sodium: 471mg | Potassium: 194mg | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 1970IU | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 129mg | Iron: 1.2mg