Brown sugar cheesecake with sugared nuts

Brown sugar cheesecake with sugared nuts

Paris Pastry Club
Helen Cathcart

This cheesecake is perfect for those birthdays made of early nights and jokes by the fireplace. In fact, I made it for the very first time for my mum’s birthday, which falls at the end of October. We were in an old house in the north of Italy with nothing else to do other than pick chestnuts and hazelnuts that we’d roast on the fire at night and burn our fingers on the shells as we cracked them open.

I remember wrapping an old tin in plenty of layers of foil. And mixing eggs with cream cheese, wondering why the egg yolks always seem brighter in Italy. I remember roasting a handful of nuts and coating them in a crunchy sugar.

For the base


Quantity Ingredient
30g ground hazelnuts
150g digestive biscuits
90g butter, melted

For the cheesecake

Quantity Ingredient
450g cream cheese
50g caster sugar
60g dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
170g double cream

For the sugared nuts

Quantity Ingredient
300g nuts, (walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, cashew)
200g caster sugar
40g water
sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 100°C. Line a 22 cm springform pan with baking parchment and wrap in 2 layers of foil.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 8 minutes, giving them a good shake every now and then, until golden-brown and aromatic. Set aside.
  3. Put the digestive biscuits into a plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin until they turn into fine crumbs. Mix in a bowl with the melted butter. Add the ground hazelnuts to the crumbs, mixing until it forms a thick paste.
  4. Scrape into the springform pan and spread out to form an even layer, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. Chill while you get on with the cheesecake mix.
  5. Work the cream cheese for a minute or two in a large bowl until it is smooth and no longer lumpy. Add the sugars and eggs and mix well. Gently fold in the double cream until just combined. Pour onto the biscuit base and sit the pan in a deep baking tray. Pour in hot water from a kettle so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the pan.
  6. Bake for 1 hour or until firm to the touch and the edges start to turn golden-brown. Turn off the oven, open the oven door and let the cheesecake to cool inside for another hour. Transfer to a wire rack and leave until it reaches room temperature. Then chill for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight.
  7. On the day you’re planning to serve the cheesecake, make the sugared nuts.
  8. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  9. Line a baking tray with baking paper and sprinkle the nuts on. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden. Leave to cool slightly while you make the sugar syrup.
  10. Place the sugar, water and salt in a large pan and cook over medium heat until it just starts to caramelize in the centre of the pan. Off the heat, stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and keep stirring until the syrup forms a sugary crust around the nuts. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely.
  11. Spoon the sugared nuts over the cold cheesecake and leave to set at room temperature. Do not refrigerate the cheesecake at this point as it will make the sugared nuts sticky.
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