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Pretzel M&M Cheesecake

Very rarely does a dessert recipe jump to the top of my “to make” list right as I find it. This dessert was an exception. I love M&Ms, pretzels, and cheesecake, and the idea to combine the three seemed genious. Props to raspberri cupcakes, because I had never seen this combo before. I used a basic pretzel crust recipe from All Recipes that called for butter, brown sugar, and pretzels. I did not pulverize the pretzels to a powder because I wanted a little texture. However, the pretzel chunks leftover made the crust hard to cut through with a fork. A little more processing is necessary so the last bites of crust aren’t a struggle to cut! Also, I should use thinner pretzel sticks instead of the thick synder twists. I thought the lemon juice in the mouse cheesecake seemed weird considering the original recipe referenced was for a chocolate cheesecake. Chocolate and lemon? Yuck. But you don’t taste the lemon. The texture of the cheesecake was smooth and light. I want to look up more mousse cheesecakes because the texture can’t be beat.

As far as the topping goes, I honestly thought halfway through that I had completely failed. The texture was grainy and chunky and I was this close to throwing it in the garbage. I figured I would strain it in a last ditch effort to save it. Somehow, it worked! I was rewarded with a delicious, smooth, perfectly textured frosting even after it cooled. I was really worried that it would harden into something nasty but it was perfect. I don’t really know what I did wrong but at least I was able to fix it!

The only complaint is that after a day in the fridge, the M&Ms that I perfectly arranged according to color started to soften. After day 2, I picked off the old M&Ms and replaced them with M&Ms from the pantry.

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake with M&Ms and Salted Pretzel Crust (Raspberri Cupcakes)
(serves 12, loosely based on this Taste of Home recipe)
For the crust:
200g (approx 3 cups) crushed salted pretzels
2 tbsp caster sugar
175g salted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
400g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (120g) caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated

For the chocolate layer:
175g semisweet dark chocolate, finely chopped
70g (5 tbsp) salted butter, cubed
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (60g) icing sugar
1/2 cup thickened cream (min 35% milk fat), whipped to soft peaks
m&ms, to decorate

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease a 20cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper. Place pretzels in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb. add sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared tin, pressing tightly into an even layer. Bake for 10 mins or until just going golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 160°C (320°F). In a large mixing bowl bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat to combine. Add egg yolks; beat on low speed just until combined. In a small bowl, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form then gently fold into cream cheese mixture. Pour over the crust, place tin on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at the reduced temperature for 25-30 minutes or until the centre is almost set. Cool in tin on a wire rack for an hour, then chill in the fridge until completely cool.

In a microwave in 30 second bursts, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Set aside to cool. In the meantime, place egg yolks and icing sugar in a heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water and whisk mixture continuously (or it will turn into scrambled eggs) until it reaches 70°C (160°F), or for about 10 minutes mixture is thick and smooth. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Set saucepan in ice and stir until cooled, about 2 minutes. Fold in whipped cream. Spread over cheesecake and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle m&ms on top to decorate then refrigerate until set. Remove sides of pan before serving. Can be stored in the fridge for several days.

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