Salted caramel-peanut chikki cheesecake

1

Portions

180 MIN

Preparation time

MEDIUM

Difficulty

Ingredients

For the peanut chikki or peanut brittle base
Granulated sugar 120g
Unsalted butter 35g
Peanuts, without skin, roasted and crushed 90g
Fennel seeds, coarsely crushed and powdered 15g
Rose water (optional) 15ml

For peanut caramel
Roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed, keep aside some to garnish 100g
Sugar 100g
Unsalted butter 1 Tbsp
Double cream 40ml
Generous pinch of sea salt

For cheese cake:

Cream cheese, softened 250g
Mascarpone cheese 250g
Sugar 100g
Double cream 250g
3 leaves gelatin

Step by Step

Chikki or caramelised dry fruit brittle is a sweet treat that is enjoyed during winters in India, especially in the North. Being born in a Punjabi family but brought up in Mumbai meant that these treats were not just winter delights but available at any time of the year. What more could I ask for!

There are many varieties of chikkis available like mixed dry fruit chikki, sesame seeds chikki, almond chikki. But peanut chikki is by far the best one and my favourite. I still enjoy these a lot.

This recipe is a non-baked cheesecake and instead of the usual biscuit base, I have incorporated my favourite peanut ‘chikki’ as the base. It lends such a crunchy texture to the otherwise creamy dish and also heightens the peanut and caramel flavour. You can always not go the whole hog and make just the peanut brittle and for a healthier version use jaggery or coconut sugar instead of the granulated sugar.

Peanut chikki base
1. Roast the peanuts in an oven at 180°C for 6-7 minutes. You can also roast the peanuts in a skillet on a medium-low heat for 7-8 minutes till the raw smell disappears and they get a light golden colour.
2. Next in a heavy-bottomed pan, add the sugar and allow it to melt without stirring, by raising the heat, till it turns into a golden caramel. Add the butter followed immediately by the roasted and slightly crushed peanuts and the rose water. Quickly stir the mixture so as to coat the peanuts in the caramel.
3. Now pour the mixture onto the parchment lined base of an 8 inch steel ring or a deep round springform pan (line the sides also with greaseproof paper, this helps to remove the cheesecake easily).
4. Press down firmly, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with the crushed fennel seeds and leave to set in the refrigerator (for half an hour or so) whilst you make the rest.


Peanut caramel
1. Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan, and caramelise on low heat without stirring (this prevents lump formation and allows for an even caramelisation). Add the crushed roasted peanuts and lightly stir to mix together.
2. Transfer 1/3rd of this mixture onto a silpat, place another silpat on it and whilst it’s still warm spread it with a rolling pin. Keep aside as once cooled this will be roughly broken to get peanut brittle shards that will be used to garnish the cheesecake.
3. To the remaining caramel mix in the pan, add the butter, cream and the sea salt and lightly warm to form a sauce consistency.
4. Keep aside to cool to room temperature. Once cooled this will be folded into the cheesecake mix.


Cheesecake
1. Place the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water and soak for 5 minutes until spongy. Drain the water and stand this bowl with gelatin in a pan of gently simmering water till it turns transparent and clear.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cream cheese,mascarpone and sugar until smooth. Add 3/4th of the (cooled) caramel sauce and whisk again,until smooth and lump free. Whisk it at a speed that is neither too quick nor too slow. So, a speed of 5 or 6 is fine.
3. Pour in the double cream and salt flakes and continue to whisk for a couple of minutes until it’s very thick and mousse-like. Fold in the soaked gelatin.
4. Now pour this salted peanut caramel cheesecake mixture onto the peanut chikki base and leave to set in the refrigerator.


To serve
1. Remove the cheesecake from the tin and drizzle over the remaining caramelised peanut sauce.
2. Garnish with peanut caramel shards and crushed roasted peanuts.