Rosewater and pistachio cheesecake recipe

This sensational cheesecake is inspired by a Lebanese dessert called madlouka, which means ‘to pour’ in Arabic. The madlouka has a round, crumbly semolina base that is spread out over a plate and topped with pillowy soft cream and loads of nuts. 

Rather than using semolina, this recipe combines a traditional biscuit base with ground pistachios for extra oomph. The lusciously light topping is a mix of cream cheese and clotted cream, perfumed with rosewater. Simplicity at its best.

Rosewater and pistachio cheesecake recipe

Ingredients

   For the base

  • 70 g pistachio kernels
  • 200 g digestive biscuits
  • 100 g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp mahlab
  • 2.5 oz pistachio kernels
  • 7.1 oz digestive biscuits
  • 3.5 oz butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp mahlab
  • 2.5 oz pistachio kernels
  • 7.1 oz digestive biscuits
  • 3.5 oz butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp mahlab

For the topping

  • 227 g tub of clotted cream
  • 400 g cream cheese
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • 8 oz tub of clotted cream
  • 14.1 oz cream cheese
  • 3.5 oz icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • 8 oz tub of clotted cream
  • 14.1 oz cream cheese
  • 3.5 oz icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp rosewater

To decorate

  • 10 g slivered Iranian pistachios, bashed until fine
  • 1 tbsp dried rose petals
  • 0.4 oz slivered Iranian pistachios, bashed until fine
  • 1 tbsp dried rose petals
  • 0.4 oz slivered Iranian pistachios, bashed until fine
  • 1 tbsp dried rose petals

Details

  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern
  • Recipe Type: Cheesecake
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Preparation Time: 30 mins
  • Cooking Time: 0 mins
  • Serves: 8

Step-by-step

  1. To make the base, put the pistachios into a food-processor and blend until fine. Add the biscuits and continue to blend until fine.
  2. Pour in the melted butter, rosewater and mahlab, if using. Blend together.
  3. Grease and line a 25cm (9.84 inches) spring-form cake tin with baking paper. Tip the biscuit base into the tin and spread out evenly. Press down with your hands to pack it together and form a solid base. Put into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, scoop the clotted cream into a mixing bowl and whisk into soft peaks.
  5. Put the cream cheese into a separate mixing bowl, add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Scrape into the bowl with the clotted cream and pour in the rosewater. Whisk together into firm peaks.
  6. Spoon in an even layer over the cheesecake base. Return it to the fridge and chill for 2 hours until firm.
  7. Take the cheesecake out of the fridge and remove it from the tin. Slide the cheesecake onto a serving plate or board. Peel off the paper from the sides and garnish with the pistachios and rose petals. Serve immediately.

This recipe is from Saffron in the Souks by John Gregory-Smith. Published by Kyle Books, £25. Photography by Nassima Rothacker and Alan Keohane.

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