Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pretzel and M&M Chocolate Cheesecake

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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 flavour in the centre 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 flavours 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 A. 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
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 centre 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 bowl 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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66 comments:

  1. Oh helloooo.... what a awesome combo. I agree - cheesecakes can often be overwhelmingly sweet but I reckon I could easily knock over several slices with your salted pretzel crust. And I love the cheerfulness of the rainbow M&Ms on top too!

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  2. That looks so amazingly delicious!!! I love sweet and salty combinations and pretzel m and m's are my favourite! The salted crust is an awesome idea!:D

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  3. OMG this looks even better than I imagined it would!!! Love the perfect layers and colourful M&M's! And I really love the sound of the salty pretzel crust.

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  4. Steph it looks fantastic. I remember when Lisa tweeted about the pretzel M&M's and the next day I went and got some. They are great, and now a cake.. THANK YOU, now I can have a slice of salty sweet colourful deliciousness... Your recipes are great and so easy. I cant wait to try it..

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  5. wooooo wonderfulll, I do this cake... Coffee Shop kisses ...

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  6. I don't know what to say... you cheesecake looks sooo good! And the photos are just perfect! And the presentation of the cake is also beautiful... a wonder!

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  7. Oh wow! What a wonderful, wonderful looking bake!

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  8. Steph you evil evil girl.... this has gone right to the top of my I MUST HAVE THIS NOW list!!
    x

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  9. This looks AMAZING!!!! i love the concept, i tried chocolate coated pretzels the other night and was shocked at how good they tasted!

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  10. I am definitely making this the next time I have people round! I'm completely obsessed with salty sweet desserts too...snickers flavoured anything with fleur de sel is my current favourite but this looks even better. I'm not sure if you can get pretzel M&Ms in the UK so heading off to hunt for them online now - for research purposes of course :-)

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  11. I am so going to try this...maybe for my birthday party/evening. I love cheesecake anyway, but any new type I love to try out and this sounds amazing

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  12. Wow! Looks insane. Never tried the pretzel-sweet combination but I think you've sold the idea to me in one post...

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  13. I got the ingredients to make this tomorrow ayayayayayaayaaa

    So excited to do it, do you mind if I post it on my blog and link back to you?

    xox

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  14. This looks delicious!Love the different colours of the m&ms :)

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  15. I love a salted dessert!

    I am especially addicted to salted caramel at the moment :D

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  16. That is a stunning looking cheesecake!

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  17. Looks great. Reminds me of this M&M Mousse Cake: http://duhlicious.com/2011/07/candy-bar-cake/

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  18. Anonymous - LOL what are you trying to imply? I always give credit where credit is due, and if I had been inspired by that post I would have said so. I shouldn't even bother justifying myself but I take great offence to the implication, there is nothing I hate more than people who steal ideas from someone else.

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  19. You are a genious! This looks and sounds amazing! Im yet to try the pretzels but def will grab a pack when I see them around next. This is the best cheesecake I have ever seen!

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  20. Perfect combination! I always have a pretzel-filled ziplock inside my handbag...who wouldn't? And M&Ms are everyone's favorite! This recipe is to die for!

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  21. Mmmmm, because the best part of a cheesecake - for me, anyway - is always the crust!

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  22. This is the ultimate treat! so pretty too :)

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  23. This is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs to check, love the macarons and dying to try this cheesecake!

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  24. I seriously cannot handle the amazingness of this cake. Salted pretzel crust and cheesecake and chocolate mousse--yum!!

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  25. I laughed when you said you wanted to marry the salted pretzel crust!

    The whole cheesecake looks DIVINE!!!! I love the sound of the combinations of flavours on this and it looks amazingly delicious.

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  26. my tastebuds are twitching just imagining this awesome combo!

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  27. I haven't tried the pretzel m&m's yet. I KNOW I will fall madly in love with them. Just like I don't even need to eat this cake to know I love it. I want it. I NEED it! Love is patient. So I'll have to wait til the grocery store opens to get the ingredients. Then, it's ON!

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  28. Salty pretzel crust ... woah! That sounds dangerous .. no wonder you want to marry it! And such a looker too!! I think the M&Ms on top just makes this cheesecake go from wow to spectacular!

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  29. You can't marry this pretzel crust. Because I'm gonna marry it first!

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  30. the could be the most fantastic dessert I have ever seen. Imabe trying this one!

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  31. YUM! What a brilliant idea. Love using some salty pretzels to cut through the richness of cheesecake a bit. And so cute! :)

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  32. It's everything I love to snack on plus more. I'm a keen lover of the sweet and salty combo, mmmmmmm. Awesome photos as usual!

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  33. Insane! I want to run out and get a bag of salted pretzels now!!

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  34. The only salty dessert I ever had was salted caramel macarons and they were gooooood! mmmm:)

    This cake looks great! I really like your photos! I want to eat this cake!!! NOW! :D

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  35. This looks INCREDIBLE! I love chocolate covered pretzels :)

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  36. Holy cow! How do you come up with these ideas!? Incredible!

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  37. una maravilla de tarta. Saludos.

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  38. This looks incredible! I can't WAIT to try it!

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  39. I just made this! It's in the fridge setting :D Except I think my chocolate mixture wasn't thick enough and my m&ms started to disappear/ sink D:

    This is such a great recipe idea! Thank you!

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  40. I love your colourful dessert posts! Another winner of a recipe, good one! =D

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  41. this is perfect! what a great idea for a cheesecake crust!

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  42. Mmm, sounds yummy. And I love the pop of colour on top from the M&Ms!

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  43. Hey plz tell me did u bake cheese cake(filling) over water bath or with out water bath?

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  44. Steph this is amazing. You have such creativity and I really give you props for that! LOVE LOVE LOVEEEEE your work. You really are an inspiration! xx

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  45. Anonymous - I did not use a water bath, or I would have said so in the method. Just place the springform tin on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at the reduced temperature.

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  46. A question...
    How firm is this cake? I would like to make mini ones, but only have ramekins in which to make them. I'd line them with baking paper and then try to turn them out...do you think it would work? Or do you really need spring form?

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  47. Miss Kimbers - I'm not sure if you would be able to turn them out without them collapsing, the cheesecake layer in the middle is very soft and moist and quite delicate. I slightly underbaked my cheesecake and it was just barely holding up the chocolate mousse layer on top! But if you're game you can try!

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  48. Miss Kimbers - Perhaps you could try them in cupcake cases?

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  49. Thanks for the reply:) That's a shame it wont work. I was thinking that as well. I'll make something else instead:) I still want to make this though;)

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  50. plesae check this some one is copying your photo

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=180713048670611&set=a.122969104445006.24605.122958771112706&type=3

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  51. Anonymous - Thank you so much for letting me know, it's incredibly frustrating and upsetting when something like this happens. I have contacted them and will wait and see what happens.

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  52. Check 1 more copying your photo

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=180918628650053&set=a.122969104445006.24605.122958771112706&type=3

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  53. Looks delicious. Would love for you to share this with us over at foodepix.com.

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  54. I made this on the weekend for my boyfriend's birthday (he went on your blog and picked it out himself!). Your recipe got so many compliments, it was heralded as the best cheesecake they'd ever tasted! The only thing I was a little bit disappointed about was mine wasn't as beautiful as yours - once the baked cheesecake shrunk down on cooling, it meant the mousse layer ran down the sides so I didn't get the nice layered effect yours had. How can I prevent this in future?

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    1. Hi Katelyn,

      I'm so glad everyone enjoyed the cheesecake! Hmmm I've found the best way to avoid shrinkage is to cool your cheesecake down as gradually as possible - turn the oven off a minute or so before you think it's done and leave it in there to start cooling, then open the oven door and keep it in there for a few more minutes before taking it out. I hope that helps! xx

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  55. Thanks for this amazing recipe .. just shared it via my fan page and will try it out today. xxx

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  56. So how do you people manage to move the cake on the serving plate? I am so afraid of ruining the whole thing, so I just give up and serve it as it is, with the baking paper stil under the cake. I'm making this cake, and just now thought about how to serve it.
    Crushing pretzels is really something else than crushing Digestive-cookies. Whew, took me an hour to get half-satisfying results! I guess I should look into getting a food processor... :3

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    1. Yes, it's a lot easier to do in a food processor since pretzels are quite hard to smash up. It makes the crumbs finer which helps the crust hold together better and makes it easier to transfer to a serving plate. It should be fine to just serve yours directly from the pan :)

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  57. So rich, so salty, so good. Loved the contrasting textures and flavours and so easy to make.

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  58. Oh, this looks so good. Your blog always makes me hungry.

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  59. I LOVE THIS PRETZEL CRUST. I WANT TO MARRY THIS CRUST. I WANT THIS CRUST IN MY VAGINA.

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