Sweet and salty pretzels make a great base for cheesecakes. Crushed and baked with butter and a little brown sugar, the pretzels become very crunchy and toasty; a wonderful complement to the cool, creamy (unbaked) filling. Strawberries and cheesecake are classic of course, but I like to add a dash of lime to disrupt the candy-cane combo, which I find can be a little cloying. But really, look at this as a blank canvas for nearly any fruit in season.
For the pretzel crust
130g unsalted butter
150g salted pretzels
50g light brown sugar
For the filling
340g full-fat cream cheese
80g castor sugar
1 tbsp lime zest
seeds from ½ vanilla bean
150ml pure cream
40g full-fat Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp lime juice
For the topping
about 40 small strawberries
60g strawberry jam
1 tbsp lime juice
1. Preheat oven to 190C (170C fan-forced).
2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Using a pastry brush, paint the inside of a 25cm shallow tart tin (I like to use an American-style pie plate) with a little of the butter, then set aside.
3. Combine pretzels and brown sugar in a food processor and blitz until they are fine crumbs. Add the remaining melted butter and process until combined – it will have the consistency of wet sand.
4. Tip the crumbs into the tart tin, then press and pat onto the bottom and sides so that it forms an even crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes until set. Allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
5. Place the cream cheese, sugar, lime zest and vanilla seeds in the bowl of a cake mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until completely smooth. Add the cream and beat until soft peaks form, then add the yoghurt and lime juice. Mix on low speed until just combined, then scrape the mixture into the cooled pretzel base. Smooth the top with a small spatula, then refrigerate for at least four hours.
6. When ready to serve, slice the leaves off the strawberries, then arrange snugly, cut-side down, covering the top. Put the jam and lime juice in a pan and place over low heat until the jam liquefies. Using a pastry brush, dab the jam over each strawberry until the tart looks gloriously glazed.
Tip: Ripe peaches, cherries or mangoes would all work beautifully in this cheesecake.
Find more of Helen Goh's recipes in the Good Food Favourite Recipes cookbook.