There are days and possibly weeks when I am simply haunted by a failed project and keep looking back as to where I went wrong, why, how, so on and on. Sometimes I chuck a failure out the window, thinking it was not meant to be and continue life as usual, but somewhere in my crazy brain an itch keeps popping it’s prickly head and nagging me to give it another go and succeed. Cheesecakes have been my pet peeve and for years I have kept safe distance, but since I conquered the devil with my Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake, I am becoming better and bolder. So this is where the story leads you dear reader, to my super, amazing, choco-vanilla striped cheesecake. The taste and looks are a match made in heaven.

imageIt’s a recipe from a “nameless book” which I had photocopied (believe me one of these days the print is going to vanish). Everytime I make a recipe from my nameless book I overwrite in pen. This is a truly amazing recipe and what got me all excited and charged up was the method to achieve the stripes. It’s so simple and obvious yet it will leave your family and friends scratching their heads …..pssst, don’t you dare reveal your secret. Let them confer you with the title of “culinary genius”.

There are 3 parts to this beauty, a chocolate base, and the dark and light cheese cake. To create the striped effect you simply have to pour ladlefuls of the dark and light mixture (alternately). Because of its thickness it won’t mix in or merge with the previous layer and that is what gives it the zebra effect. The pictures are the best I could do (its not easy holding the I pad and a ladle and clicking). The taste is rich and I have added a good dose of kahlua to the choco mix which gives it an elegance of a high class dessert. The “in your face” taste of the chocolate is a contrast to the subtle vanilla taste of the lighter cheesecake. All in all it sends your taste buds and texture-buds (?????) into overdrive. This is a dessert fit for a Page 3 appearance. Move over LBDs the striped cheesecake is making ripples.😀






Biscuit Base

120 grams Digestive biscuits (crushed to a coarse powder)

1 ½ tablespoons Cocoa powder, sifted

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

45 grams butter, melted


400 grams cream cheese (Homemade version Here)

110 grams Sugar

2 large eggs / 3 small

80 grams Dark Chocolate

2 ½ Tablespoons Kahlua

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract


  • Grease the sides of a 6-7 inch springform tin 2 inches in height.( I used a normal cake tin and the cheesecake turned out just fine. I lined the bottom with grease proof paper.)
  • Preheat oven to 180o
  • For the biscuit base put the crushed biscuits, sugar and cocoa in a bowl. Stir well and add in the melted butter. Toss with a fork to blend. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the prepared tin. Bake at 180oC for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and lower oven temperature to 160o
  • Carefully grease the sides of the baking tin with butter.


  • Melt the chocolate with the Kahlua over a double boiler. Remove from the heat and leave aside to cool.
  • Put the cream cheese (at room temperature) in a large bowl. Beat using a hand held beater. Gradually add in the sugar, beating continuously. Add the Vanilla.
  • Add in the eggs one at a time, beating only enough to combine them with the rest of the mixture.
  • Pour a little under half of the cheesecake mixture into the melted chocolate and Kahlua.
  • Pour a large ladleful of the white mixture onto the biscuit base tilting the tin to cover the base. Add a little more if required. Add the same amount of the chocolate mix gently on the white layer and let it spread. Do not tilt the tin.


  • Alternate the layers using about half the remaining mixture each time until both the mixtures are used up. You should get 4 pourings of the light mixture and 3 pourings of the chocolate mixture. A little here and there won’t change the equation or look of the cake. As you keep pouring in the layers the previous ones will spread creating a ripple effect.






  • Put a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven and the cheesecake on the rack above. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the light mixture in the centre is just set. The chocolate mixture will firm up as the cheesecake cools.


  • Remove from the oven and set the cheesecake on a wire rack to cool. Run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake before removing the tin. Carefully remove the tin and refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.




Cheesecake Filling

450g cream cheese

1/4 cup / 60ml heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup / 60g shredded cheese (a strong cheese)

1/2 tsp ground pepper and ¼ tsp freshly ground Nutmeg

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup spinach, chopped

1 tablespoon. Butter

½ cup corn (blanched for 2-3 mins in hot water

1 green/ red chilly de-seeded and finely chopped (optional)

3/4 cup / 115g cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)


  • Heat a tablespoon of butter in a pan. Add the spinach and keep stirring on medium heat until wilted. Add in corn, chilly and a pinch of salt. Let cool slightly before using.
  • Preheat oven to 160°C Gas Mark 3.
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and cream until smooth.


  • Beat in cheese, nutmeg and pepper.
  • Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined.
  • Add the cooked spinach and corn and mix well with a spoon.
  • Pour over prepared pie crust. Place pie in a large baking pan; add 1” of boiling water to larger pan.
  • Bake for about 10-15 mins.Top with prepared topping (recipe given below) and continue baking for another 40 minutes.
  • Place pie in a large baking pan; add 1” of boiling water to larger pan.
  • Bake 45-55 minutes or until center is just set and slightly wobbly.
  • Cool cheesecake on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight.


  • I prefer it warm.


Crumble Topping (savoury)

7-8 Plain Crackers/ 1 cup Cheeselings (crushed to coarse crumbs)

2 heaped tsps grated cheese

2 tblspns butter melted

1 tblspn flour

Salt & Pepper

Mix all the above in a bowl with your fingers.



Technology has so overtaken their existence its almost as if we will cease to exist without the gadgets. Teens no more do the things we used to, they hang out on the gadget, their fingers and eyeballs the only parts of their bodies that move. “But I do read , Mom” he says it in response to my “dark look of disapproval”. Yes he does, that too, on a gadget. Come on folks whatever happened to good old books…dog-eared, dusty, and comfortingly familiar. And what happened to my childhood pass-times. I spent hours in the company of a pair of scissor, glue and paper, colour pencils which were reduced to a stub and pens which dried out from overuse. Creative that’s what we were. Creative, thats what my fellow Daring Bakers are. We are a bunch of people who challenge each other to think, innovate, twist the recipe around yet sticking to the broad out-line. Yea, yes we use technology and gadgets but that’s to keep us connected not distanced from reality and real people.

Old-school? Yes that’s me….if I can do it from scratch I will do it….even though the effort may be a foolish waste of time. That’s the way I tackled this challenge, a crumble, a cheesecake, a pie, all made from scratch….the cream cheese too!

Blog checking lines: For the month of November Krista & Nicole of “Two Cups of Sugar.” challenged us to make our own version of cheesecake crumble pie.

Cheesecake Crumble Pie….It is such an innovative idea, though a bit over the top. The pie is a speciality of a bakery in their hometown which makes Cheesecake Crumble Pies and the sisters rightfully judged that this group of bakers were the ultimate guinea pigs (LOL)!!

There is a savoury and a sweet version of the crumble pie and I made both for 2 reasons I couldn’t decide between the 2 and secondly senior likes savoury and junior likes both 🙂

There are 3 elements to be prepared, the pie crust, the cheesecake and the streusel or crumble on the top.

I decided to go homemade all the way and made my cream cheese at home too (recipe after this post). That left me feeling so fulfilled in ways I can’t explain, that an extra piece of cheesecake was gulped down without guilt (the cream cheese is low fat after all)


The pies turned out beautifully and junior, senior and all in-between were happy. The savoury pie to which I added corn and spinach (to give an illusion of “healthy”) was almost like a quiche but richer. I topped it with a mix of crushed crackers, melted butter and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

The sweet version was yummm too and the cheesecake was the right sweetness. I added choco-coffee swirls and topped it with a mix of oats, honey, a tablespoon of flour and butter.

Then what is it that bothered me??? The pie crust!! I wasn’t happy with it. Shortening !! I don’t use it often or at all. The pie crust was tough and greasy and the taste and texture left a lot to be desired. Maybe I didn’t do it write or maybe I over-worked it…… you can use your own pie crust recipe or try this out. I wonder why a short crust pastry wasn’t used.


The next time I would go with a short crust pastry or my favourite biscuit crust (old school???). Initially I resisted the idea of the crunchy topping but it added character to the pie and it is an innovative way to turn your cheesecake on its head. A friend who tasted it said that the topping cuts through the rich, smoothness of the cheesecake. My homemade cream cheese ensured that the pie wasn’t sickeningly heavy, so mom and son had big, guilt free portions.

All in all I would give a big thumbs up to the Cheesecake Crumble Pie and if I had to do it again it would be with a biscuit crust and maybe the crunchy topping as a side. My mantra- if I can bake it, I won’t buy it (ever)!!  🙂



(New York Cheesecake)- Serves 8-10

Recipe 1: Pie Crust

To fit 1 Pie Dish of 9” diameter Preparation time: 10 minutes Baking time: 13 minutes



1 ¼ cups /175g all-purpose (plain) flour

¾ tsp fine salt

6 Tbsp / 77g shortening, cubed

1 ½ Tbsp / 21g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed or grated

6 – 7 Tbsp / 90 – 105ml ice water

  • Sift together flour & salt. Add in shortening and butter and mix by rubbing mixture between your hands until it resembles a coarse meal/ bread crumbs. Do not leave big pieces of shortening as they melt during the baking process and create tiny hole in the pastry
  • Sprinkle 6 Tbsp / 90ml of ice water over the mixture and blend gently by hand or with a fork until it holds together. If mixture is not holding together add additional an additional 1 Tbsp of ice water as necessary. Add a little at a time. Too much water causes the pastry to shrink.
  • Shape dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.


  • Preheat oven to 425°F / 220°C


  • Lightly flour working area and roll out dough into a round 1.5” larger than the pie pan.
  • Gently place in pie pan and cut away the excess dough. Prick the dough several times with a small knife or fork and fill with beans, baking weights or an 8” / 20cm cake pan to help keep shape during baking.

Bake for 9 minutes. Remove weight/cake pan and bake for an additonal 3 – 4 minutes until edges of crust are lightly browned. Set aside to cool.



Recipe 2:

New York Style Cheesecake (Sweet)

Servings: fills a 9” / 23cm pie + a little extra


450g cream cheese

¾ cup / 150g white sugar

½ tsp grated lemon zest

¼ tsp vanilla

2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk

¼ cup / 60ml heavy cream

For the Chocolate CoffeenSwirl- melt together 40 grms dark chocolate +20 grms butter over a double boiler. Remove from heat once it has melted. Stir and add in 2 heaped tablspoons of almond meal and 1 teaspoon instant coffee. I also add 2 teaspoons of Tia Maria. Leave to cool and proceed with the cheesecake.

  • Have all the ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  • Beat cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides and add sugar gradually while beating until smooth (about 1 – 2 minutes).
  • Beat in lemon zest and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  • Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated. On low speed, beat in heavy cream.
  • Pour filling into prepared crust.




  • Splatter or dot top of cheesecake with the chocolate coffee mix. Swirl it around gently with a butter knife or toothpick. You just want swirls of brown chocolate and not a light brown cheesecake. You may not need all the choc-coffee mix. Use it sparingly (5-6 tablespoons max)


  • Bake for 15 minutes at 220°C. Top with crumble (see recipe 3) and return to oven at reduced temperature of 100°C and bake for 50mins-1 hour more. Turn the oven off, prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon, and let the cake cool in the oven for 30 minutes.


  • Remove to a rack and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.



Recipe 3: Crumble (Sweet)


½ cup oats

2 tablespoons Chopped Nuts

25 grms Butter

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Brown Sugar

½ tsp. Cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Melt the butter on medium heat.

Add the honey and turn off the heat.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake (Baked)

image There is a Finnish proverb which goes like this ” Other land Blueberry, own land Strawberry”. I really don’ t get what the Finns are trying to say, whatever their reasons to prefer strawberries over blueberries, mine is a little simpler. I love the look of strawberries, red, luscious, shiny, sometimes mishapen, their green caps contrasting against the Christmassy red. That’s what beckoned me from my fridge shelf, begging me to turn them into cheesecake. They were fed up being bottled as jam !




My love hate relationship with cheesecakes goes back some years. One attempt at baking a beautiful Chocolate Cheesecake fell flat and turned out to be a tasteless lumpy misadventure. I chucked it in the bin and swore on its dead body never  would I bake a cheesecake again. For years, I hid behind frozen cheesecakes , lemon, blueberry, mango, strawberry………strictly avoiding baked cheesecake recipes, telling myself its not my piece of cake. Recently, a small voice in my head has been calling me a “cheesecake coward”, it’s also been saying “you chickened out of a cheesecake?”. Provoked and emboldened, I decided to lay these voices to rest and boldly snatched up the strawberries, put on my armour, picked up my weapons and got down to war! I have finally slain the baked cheesecake demon with this easy yet “to die” for recipe.


I had been on the look out for a recipe that incorporated the fruit into the cheesecake and not  as a topping. That’s what I found in “Crumbs” a book by Ruby Tandoh. She has used blueberries and the crust is digestive biscuits and butter. I decided to head down the chocolate crust path and chose to make an Oreo cookie crust, a perfect accompaniment to the strawberries, though a tad richer than expected. You can use half digestive and half Oreo to cut down on the richness. The cheese used is ricotta which is grainier and less dense than cream cheese. Cream cheese will also do well, in case you don’t have access to ricotta. In any case, I will  be posting my home-made Ricotta recipe soon. The cheesecake turned out to be that pale sunshine colour with beautiful swirls of strawberry jamminess dancing in its rich paleness. The sharpness of the strawberries is welcome contrast to the rich, puddingish, cakiness it floats. This cheesecake is a piece of art and contrasts….the almost unsweetened chocolate base and the fruitiness of the berries and the rich custard flavour of the filling….I could go on and on, but I will leave you to judge it !


Serves 8-10 (generous portions)

You will need- 20 cm. round loose-bottomed or spring-form cake tin


For the base:

150 gms. Oreo Cookies

60 gms. unsalted butter

For the strawberry swirl:

150 gms. strawberries

2-3 tablespoons caster sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

For the filling:

500 gms. Ricotta Cheese

2 tablespoons cornflour

150 ml double cream *

125 gms. caster sugar

2 large eggs + 1 yolk

Zest of one lemon

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 C
  • Give the cookies a whizz in the food processor turning it to a coarse powder. Melt the butter over low heat and add  to the cookie powder. Mix together. The crumbs should be moist enough to hold in clumps if squeezed together. If the mixture appears dry add a little extra melted butter.
  • Spread the cookie mixture on the base of the tin and press down firmly. Ensure that the mixture is evenly spread out. Bake in the pre heated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and leave aside to cool slightly. Lower oven temperature to 120 C.
  • Chop up the strawberries. Heat the strawberries , sugar and lemon juice over low heat till the strawberries soften. Crush any large pieces of fruit but do leave a few tiny pieces of strawberries.
  • In a large bowl beat the ricotta and cornflour together until smooth, add in the cream and stir until combined, Add the sugar, stir until incorporated. Add the egg one at a time followed by the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Pour the filling onto the baked cookie base.
  • Take spoonfuls of the strawberry mixture and drop it over the filling. Gently swirl the jammy mixture using a butter knife. Don’t over mix. Bake it at 120 C for 1 hour 15 mins. to 1 1/2 hour. The cooked cheesecake must feel firm all over and slightly wobbly in the centre.
  • Let the cheesecake cool completely before trying to unmould. Preferably refrigerate before unmoulding.

* If you want a lighter cheesecake feel free to use single cream or half and half.