The dark side /-/ Speculoos cheese cake with malted pretzel Crust

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I must sound like a really pain in butt sometimes. That up tight, stick to rules, Miss manners who is buzz kill at any party. Well at least this is the persona, I have been told, that I portray whenever I bake something; in particular fancy cakes. Like the classic pre horror tale, I am experience a sense of satisfaction but the price is I do have a lot of unnecessary conflicts with others. Gosh I have my own Mr. Hyde and the drug which unleashes it is my obsessive nature in kitchen.

Come to my dark side, we have cake for you… 

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Like the story I really try to not fall into the trap of it. I struggle against my need to weigh all ingredients to the T. The salt is measured to the gram in sweet recipes; NOT EVEN the odd sprinkles and M&Ms is spared my wrath. Come to think of it I haven’t used a cup measurement in years…. Beside for the odd holding of chocolate chips or in photos (yes, my kitchen does not look that nice nor is the set up practical when you cook the real thing) 

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The worst part about it is I become incredibility short tempered if anything is misplaced or my things have been tampered with. I know nobody means to be annoying (well at least I hope so) but when you have to run across the room to get a baking tray THAT should have been in the kitchen. RAGE!!

 I remember the last time I really lost my nut was when my dad opened the oven door while I was baking the last batch macarons. Not a big deal right? Not when you spent most of that hour testing out the oven to find the perfect temp and testing out a better macaron method. That night was not a pleasant for people around me.

I guess you could call it burning the dessert calories. Being evil takes work you know! Maybe that’s why I can eat cake almost everyday. 

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You would be wondering why I am listing all my negative kitchen traits here. You probably never want to work with me or hire me by the way I describe myself. However I have come to realise people like you better if you are honest with them. I am a far from perfect person in and out of kitchen, however I do it all for the sake of creating something which hopefully is almost flawless. 

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Now unlike my baking I do for cakes, desserts is a more relaxed affair. Cheesecake has to one of the best desserts in history of desserts. It is low effort, high reward, you can go a fancy or as relaxed as you please but best of all it can be prepared in advanced. For me, nobody does cheesecake like Nigella Lawson and no one shall EVER turn down a Cheesecake from Ms. Lawson

All this worry about cheese cake is really unnecessary if you have been taught the right way to do it. A few things I learnt from her are use a food processor, bring to room temperature ALL of the ingredients and as much as it pains you, DO not the rush the cooling process. 

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This cheesecake is a double delight for those are into caramelized goodness of snack food. Now you may not think that pretzels are caramelized but in all honestly if you bake any carbohydrate or sugar with dry heat it becomes caramelized. Why do you think it has the lovely rich brown colour we all drool over?

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Cookie butter has finally reached Aussie shores and about time too! I was sick of trying to make it only to eat it all within three days… As magic as cookie butter is, I find majority of recipe that use it do not count for that fact it is NOT peanut butter; meaning the sweetness of the desserts become unappealing. Not here but using a bit of custard power, you can reduce the sugars but still give that stability when you use sugar in cheese cake. 

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I am taking on the classic part ricotta cheesecake because I find it “lighter” than the full cream cheese version; not in calories but the taste. The salty, malted crust is on this cheese cake is almost better than eating pretzel themselves and means people would gladly eat the WHOLE piece of cake instead of leaving it to last or on the plate. Malty, salty and trashy for a Monday dessert; If you need an excuse think of a way to saying “good job!” for surviving the long day of the week.

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Cookie butter cheese cake with malt pretzel Crust

Makes one 23cm cake
250g cream cheese

150g ricotta (full fat from a deli)

2 eggs

1 egg  yolk

100g caster sugar

25g custard powder

100g sour cream

200g cookie butter 


170g salted pretzel, crushed well

30g malted milk

60g butter melted

Pre heat oven to 160C (non fan forced).Line the base of a 23cm spring form pan.

Combine in large bowl the base ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Using a metal spoon push into the base of the prepared tin until evenly formed crust is made. Place in the fridge until needed.

In food processor, combined the cream cheese and ricotta. Scrap the food processor down. Blend on high until combined. Add eggs, sugar, custard power, sour cream and cookie butter; blend until well combined and smooth mix is formed. You may need to scrape it down.

Pour in to the pretzel base prepared earlier. Give it a gentle tap on a bench to rid it of air bubbles. Bake in pre heat oven for about 1 hour until light brown on the top and set. About 5cm of the edge should be set when it is ready). Leaven in oven, with the door slightly open to cool. Chill over night before unmoulding.

To un mould, run a hot sharp knife around the outside of tin before releasing the spring form tin.


  1. I, too, am a bit of a bear in the kitchen (and I'd freak out if someone opened the oven door while I was baking something as delicate as macarons!). But it's all in the name of creating a quality dish everyone will love, right? ;) I think I gasped when I saw this cheesecake... it looks and sounds AMAZING.

    stephanie @ girl versus dough

    1. I like to think of it as the pay off for creating delicious meals. Sometimes you need to be boss in the kitchen.

      You are too kind Stephanie to say that! thank you love!

  2. I enjoyed this post immensely. Particularly since I've been making cheesecakes - and collecting recipes - for over four decades. When I was doing pastry at the Denver campus of Johnson and Wales, my most popular demonstrations were the ones on cheesecakes.

    I understand your impatience with interference with your "stuff" in the kitchen. When I was younger, I used to be called The Mad Briar. This short fuze on your temper will take a toll on you in the future if you don't use it for constructive ends. Mad George. That's a story for later. Heh . . .

    While I really like Nigella Lawson's writing, I've gravitated toward the work of Rose Levy Barenbaum on cakes. Also I settled on the New York-style cheesecake as produced by Junior's in Brooklyn. There's a story about my first encounter with cheesecake - but that's a story for another time, too.

    Your pix of your work are really mouthwatering. These make me want to eat at least one piece of that cake. Take care of yourself, Sweet Girl (pun intended). That's my nickname for you.

    1. This comment made me laugh. love the nick name!

      I really have to look Rose up if you are so inspired by her; it must be good to be that memorable.

  3. Hate to be picky, but browning pretzels doesn't have much to do with carmelization (from a chemist's point of view).

    Bread browns by the Maillard reaction -- the reaction of amino acids (parts of proteins) and sugars to form more complex and often delicious compounds. Caramelization, strictly speaking, is pyrolysis -- the reaction of carbon compounds in the absence of oxygen.

    The results look similar, but the reactions are very different. And some of the confusion comes from the complexity of the reactions -- when you make caramel from milk and sugar, the flavors come from the Maillard reaction as well as caramelization.

    The Wikipedia article on this is quite good, by the way, if you don't mind a bit of chemistry.

    And none of this should detract from your excellent cheesecake. If only someone else in my family liked cheesecake...

    1. Ah yes, The odd mallard reaction! I get them two confused sometimes. All that i know is protein goes brown in the oven when you bake bread.

      Thank for your insight Ken. You are so Knowledgeable!

  4. Oh my, this is so lovely!!! How do you get such a vibrant look to your photos?? They are SO GORGEOUS. Plus, this flavor combination sounds so bomb. Nice one Belinda!

    1. I have no idea some times Erika! it is just good lighting when I can catch it! Thanks Love for your comment!.

  5. Where can I get cookie batter in Oz?

  6. Kudos to you for not relying on cups - measuring in grams is the way to go - and that way if you are baking from someone else's recipe and things go a little pear-shaped, you know that the problem is not at your end ;-). Like the clean, bright lighting in the photos - very professional. We don't have cookie butter here in Dubai and I have never tried it, so cannot imagine what taste it will impart. The recipe looks very promising, though, and the idea for the base seems clever enough that I may try it on some other cheesecake.

    1. Thank you Amber! I am flattered that you love the light here; I can only get it sometimes. It is very rare for me to get cookie butter too but there are many recipe on the internet to make the biscuits then the spread. So you can get this cheese cake too!

  7. Wow! I think I can do it. hehehe Thanks for our tips. God Bless! private chef in austin texas

  8. There are a number of ingredients here that I am unfamiliar with. Is it possible that they go by different names here in the US? I do not recognize caster sugar, custard powder, or cookie butter and am unsure what for of malted milk I am looking for. Are we speaking of the powder or a liquid form? Thank you.

    1. Well I think caster sugar is confections sugar. Not powdered but not standard white sugar.
      Custard powder is can be purchase under the brand "Bird's Custard powder" similar to vanilla pudding mix. it is normally called holicks here is Australia but I think the USA brand is malted milk powder by"Carnation".

  9. Belinda, thank you so much for answering me, but I would also like to know what cookie butter is?

    1. I think it is stocked by Traders Joe in the states but it spread that taste like spiced cookies. Sorry if this not much help! Thank you for questions! I love to help.