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Monday
Jun232014

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Mascarpone Cheesecake

Pictured: Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Mascarpone Cheesecake

The stunning picture of the cake as well as the pink peppercorns caught my eye straight away when I saw this recipe, and I knew I had to give it a go.
Pink peppercorns are unrelated to black peppercorns, and have a distinctive floral note as well as peppery, and I could easily picture how well they would match the strawberries, and they do. 
I didn’t have the right sized tin so I had to split the recipe into two different smaller-sized tins, and it worked easily - I watched the cooking time closely and took them each out as they firmed up with a slight wobble still. 
My husband managed to eat one of the cakes by himself it was so delicious and as the cake has a few steps involved, none of them too tricky, I tend to make this for birthdays and special occasions.
This recipe is based on the one published in the Good Food section of the SMH in 2014 by Karen Martini.
 
250g digestive biscuits
50g unsalted butter, melted
310g castor sugar
500g strawberries, hulled and halved if too large
1 tsp pink peppercorns, crushed (at specialist food stores like Norton St Grocer)
½ a vanilla bean, cut in slivers
½ lemon, juiced and zest finely grated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp plain flour
Pinch salt
250g mascarpone
4 large eggs
100ml sour cream
50ml cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced or 200°C conventional. 
Put the strawberries, the peppercorns and the slivers of vanilla bean into an ovenproof dish. Scatter over 150g of the sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes - the strawberries should be holding their shape, but softened and sitting in syrup. I often do this step even a day or two earlier as they keep well in the fridge in a sealed container, and I keep the required  remaining syrup and strawberries to spoon over when I serve the cake.
Grease and line a 25-centimetre spring-form cake tin. Or you can split between two smaller sized spring form tins – just watch the cooking time as it will slightly shorter.
Biscuit base - 
Process the biscuits in a food processor to a fine crumb. Transfer to a bowl, add the melted butter and 40g of the castor sugar and mix quickly and well until combined. Press the mixture into the base of the tin (or across the two tins) in an even layer. Chill while you make the filling.
Reduce the oven to 150°C fan-forced or 170°C conventional.
Filling - 
Set up a food processer - place the lemon zest, vanilla extract and remaining 120g of castor sugar in and process until combined. Add the flour, salt and mascarpone cheese and process for a few seconds. Add the eggs and lemon juice and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the sour cream and cream, and pulse until combined, but don't overwork.
Place half the strawberries on the biscuit base, draining excess syrup to keep the base from becoming soggy. Pour the filling over the top, shaking gently to settle, and bake for 40-50 minutes. It can be 35 minutes for a smaller tin. Once cooked, the mix should have a firm wobble to it. 
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
To serve, place remaining strawberries on top, spoon over some syrup
Serves 8
Pictured: Pink Peppercorns