No-bake cheeseecake with black pepper strawberries


For the base

  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 75g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 80g ground almonds
  • 25g cocoa
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg white

For the cheesecake

  • 4 leaves gelatin
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 160g mascarpone
  • 280g cream cheese

For the topping

  • 200g strawberries
  • 60g caster sugar
  • Zest and 2 tbsp juice of a lemon
  • 5 turns of a pepper mill

Note: You can leave the gelatine out, the cheesecake just won’t have a firm set, but it will still taste good. 


  1. To make the base, preheat the oven to 180 C/160 F and lightly grease a 7-inch springform pan. Beat the butter and sugar to combine, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until a dough forms. Press the dough into the base and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 20-22 minutes until firm in the middle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  2. To make the filling, soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes, then transfer to a small saucepan with 150ml of the double cream and stir on a low heat until the gelatine dissolves. Pour the gelatine cream and the rest of the cream into a large bowl and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, add the rest of the cheesecake ingredients and use an electric whisk to mix until smooth and thick. Spread the filling over the cheesecake base and level it off with a spoon or offset spatula. Put the cheesecake in the fridge to set for 4 hours, or overnight.
  3. To make the topping, slice the strawberries into halves and quarters and put them in a bowl with the sugar, lemon and pepper. Stir to coat the strawberries and leave to macerate for 10 minutes, then pile the strawberries on top of the cheesecake. Reserve the juice for guests to pour over the cheesecake before they dive in.

Tips & Hints – A black pepper pairing

SnackinsSurprisingly delicious: black pepper cream cheese & fruit

It’s a well-known fact among friends that I’m a weird eater – one of the ladies I went on holiday with was frequently openly baffled by what I ate, although considering one of those experiments was mussels and chocolate sauce, you can hardly blame her. But the juxtaposition of sweet and savoury is one of the best things about pairing foods, as proven by maple syrup and bacon.

So when it comes to snacking, of course I follow suit. Black pepper (light!) cream cheese (so far I’ve seen it in Morrisons and Sainsburys) goes wonderfully with apple and strawberries, keeping that 3pm lull interesting as well as virtuous.

If you’re feeling a little less saintly, Jane at The Hedge Combers made strawberry and black pepper muffins, too.

Tip of the Week – How to rescue “seized” chocolate

Seizing – or, to you and I, “Oh balls, the chocolate’s gone grainy” – happens when chocolate overheats or the cocoa powder in it absorbs water. You can bring it back for use in brownies or puddings by gently reheating it in a bain marie and adding 1 tsbp of vegetable oil, boiling water, or hot cream  for every 175g of chocolate. No more sadly spooning gritty Green & Blacks into your mouth before dashing to the shops again.