Day 8: Pretzel and M&M Chocolate Cheesecake

by Dana on December 8, 2011

I’ve never been a cheesecake person.
I like cream cheese, I like graham cracker crust.
But mix that all together and then bake it, and it just seems too thick and hard to swallow.
(nice way to get you excited about a cheesecake recipe. Sorry)
BUT.
There are rare moments when a certain cheesecake jumps out at me and makes me a believer (The Cheesecake Factory’s Red Velvet slice being one of those).
And recently I stumbled on a food blog that’s sucking me in to the cheesecake world and keeps me dreaming of desserts, rather than sewing, at night.
It’s Raspberri Cupcakes.
I know many MADE readers are from Australia, so today is extra special! Here’s a Sydney blogger for you! (but don’t worry, she has US measurements in the recipe too). Of course you Aussies probably already know about Steph and her amazing photos and yummmmmy blog. But if you’re new?….seriously. Stop what you’re doing (well, after reading this post) and click around on her site. She had me at Christmas Pancakes with Chocolate Candy Cane Syrup. It’s pinned in my Sweets.

And today she’s sharing a fan favorite with us.
Cheesecake with pretzel crust, chocolate, and candy on top?
Sold.
And to really put it over the top, Steph recommends adding a peanut butter twist to the plain cheesecake layer. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s hear from Steph and her stunning pictures….
(note: this recipe can also be found HERE on Raspberri Cupcakes)
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Salt. I am obsessed with adding salt to my desserts, in case you didn’t already know. Salted butter seems to take a regular buttercream to another level. A dash of salt in some chocolate chip cookies makes them dangerously addictive. And even though I had inital reservations of the trend, a bit of bacon can work in the right situation. I love balancing a super sweet dish with a zing of salt.

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Recently I had noticed people raving about Pretzel M&Ms. I was intrigued since it wasn’t really a combination I had thought about before, but the idea of the salty pretzel flavor in the center of an M&M was definitely worth investigating. So I grabbed myself a bag for research purposes (of course), and the sweet and salty combination of flavors really inspired me.

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I started feeling a little behind on the whole salted pretzel dessert idea after a bit of googling, finding all kinds of desserts like m&m pretzel cookies and m&m pretzel brownies. I decided that I really needed to make a dessert with a salty pretzel crust. Cheesecake was the obvious choice. Now it appears that cheesecakes with pretzel crusts have been around forever, but it sounded so darn good I had to try it for myself. And so I ended up making a M&M Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake with a Salted Pretzel Crust. It’s sweet, salty, smooth, fluffy, and colourful!

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First of all, let’s talk about this salted pretzel crust. I LOVE THIS PRETZEL CRUST. I WANT TO MARRY THIS CRUST. Shh don’t tell my fiance. I think I need to start making everything with a salted pretzel crust. The problem I always struggle with when making cheesecakes is that the filling can be rather dense and too rich, but this golden, salted base definitely helps to offset any of the richness in the sweeter layers on top. And it tastes so good, I had to resist the urge to eat the baked crust on its own like a giant cookie.

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The cheesecake layer is baked, but it’s as light as a cloud because of the eggwhites that are whipped and folded into the mixture, but make sure you don’t underbake it or it won’t be stable enough under the layer of chocolate mousse. Add the M&Ms and you have the perfect balance of textures. I was worried the mousse layer would be too rich, so I reduced the amount of egg yolks from the recipe I was using. It turned out just right, and I was really pleased that I decided to make two different layers in the cheesecake rather than just making a regular chocolate flavoured cheesecake filling. It looks so much better with two layers, especially with the M&Ms on top. And I am completely sold on the mixture of M&Ms and pretzels. It may seem slightly insane, but it totally works.

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Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake with M&Ms and Salted Pretzel Crust
(serves 12, loosely based on this Taste of Home recipe)
For the crust:
200g (approx 3 cups) crushed salted pretzels
2 tbsp caster sugar (substitute white granulated sugar in the US)
175g salted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
400g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (120g) caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated

For the chocolate layer:
175g semisweet dark chocolate, finely chopped
70g (5 tbsp) salted butter, cubed
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (60g) icing sugar
1/2 cup thickened cream (min 35% milk fat), whipped to soft peaks
m&ms, to decorate

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease a 20cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper. Place pretzels in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb. add sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared tin, pressing tightly into an even layer. Bake for 10 mins or until just going golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

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Reduce oven temperature to 160°C (320°F). In a large mixing bowl bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat to combine. Add egg yolks; beat on low speed just until combined. In a small bowl, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form then gently fold into cream cheese mixture. Pour over the crust, place tin on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at the reduced temperature for 25-30 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool in tin on a wire rack for an hour, then chill in the fridge until completely cool.

In a microwave in 30 second bursts, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Set aside to cool. In the meantime, place egg yolks and icing sugar in a heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water and whisk mixture continuously (or it will turn into scrambled eggs) until it reaches 70°C (160°F), or for about 10 minutes mixture is thick and smooth. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Set saucepan in ice and stir until cooled, about 2 minutes. Fold in whipped cream. Spread over cheesecake and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle m&ms on top to decorate then refrigerate until set. Remove sides of pan before serving. Can be stored in the fridge for several days.

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Thank you Steph for sharing such a fun recipe. I’m pretty sure I could even get my kids to try this (anything topped with colorful candy is hard to resist).
Check out the Sweets and Treats archive page HERE.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Elizabeth March 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I absolutely love baking with M&Ms! I bet this was delicious.

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