Sharon Bonkers Cheesecake_1

With its vivid colours, crazy pattern and poptastic topping, this cheesecake is bonkers on many levels. Beetroot juice is the secret to its colour – available from good supermarkets and speciality food stores, or make your own by whizzing a small beetroot in a juicer. Lollipop sticks can be bought from baking supply stores or online. This cheesecake is best made no more than half a day in advance, as the beetroot juice will eventually bleed into the white, spoiling the zebra effect. (Recipe from Sharon Hearne Smith’s, No Bake Baking available on amazon.)

Serves 10
50g unsalted butter
200g pink wafer biscuits
5 tbsp beetroot juice (75ml)
6 gelatine leaves
800g full-fat cream cheese
200g sour cream
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes

Marshmallow pops
2 tbsp edible sprinkles (of one type or mixed)
50g white chocolate
10 marshmallows

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on the hob or in a bowl in the microwave. Blend the biscuits in a food processor, or seal in a food bag and bash with a rolling pin, until you have fine crumbs. Stir the crumbs and 1 tablespoon of the beetroot juice into the melted butter to coat evenly and then spread in the cake tin. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up.

Divide the gelatine leaves into two stacks of three, place each stack in a small bowl, pour over just enough cold water to cover and soak for 5–10 minutes until softened. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl or food mixer until smooth and loosened up a little. Beat in the sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract until well blended. Divide the mixture in half evenly between two medium bowls (about 575g each). Add the lime zest to one half of mixture and set aside for a minute.

In a pan on the hob or bowl in the microwave, warm the lime juice. Do the same with the remaining 4 tablespoons of beetroot juice in a separate pan or bowl. Remove both from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the now-softened gelatine and drop one batch into the lime juice and the other into the beetroot juice, stirring both until dissolved. Leave to cool for a few minutes. Then, pour the cool lime juice into the creamy mixture with the lime zest, folding it in until well combined. Pour the cool beetroot juice into the other creamy mixture, again folding it in well.

Now for the fun bit. Using a different tablespoon for each mixture and starting with the pink one, drop a spoonful of it into the centre of the biscuit base. Then drop a spoonful of the white mixture into the centre of the pink blob, followed by a pink spoonful into the centre of the white blob. Continue adding spoonfuls into the centre. The mixtures will push out towards the edge of the tin and then grow up the sides. Give them a little help to spread every so often, by gently banging the tin on your worktop. You will see an exciting swirly marbled pattern emerging. Continue until both mixtures are used up. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight, until set firm.

Make the marshmallow pops. Pour the sprinkles into small bowls (or one bowl if using all the same type). Snap the chocolate into a small heatproof bowl and either melt in the microwave in 30-second blasts, stirring between each go, or over a pan of simmering water, shallow enough that the water doesn’t touch the bowl. When melted, remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Stick a lollipop stick into the base of a marshmallow to create a pop and repeat for all ten. Either dip the top of the marshmallow into the chocolate to half-coat or use a small piping bag to pipe melted chocolate around it in a helter-skelter pattern. Then dip the pops in the sprinkles as you wish. Pierce the finished pop sticks into an egg box or insert in the holes of a wire rack so they stand upright and leave to set. These can be made a day in advance and stored in an airtight container between sheets of parchment, once set.

When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen from the tin, then carefully remove and slide onto a cake stand or serving plate. Stick the marshmallow pops all over the top of the cheesecake for a slightly bonkers effect and serve. Cut into ten wedges each with a pop on top.