Crème Frâiche Cheesecake With Pretzel Crust + Brûléed Figs and Grapes

I know it’s still technically summer but when everyone goes back to school it’s already fall in my mind. And fall is harvest…so I think about the grapes that are dipping below my trellis and spilling all over my patio which makes my chickens oh so happy. And I think of figs because they’re such a cozy beautiful, late summer/early fall fruit. And I am completely out-of-my-mind obsessed with crème frâiche and pretzels right now (maybe always? but especially right now). I’ve done several recipes recently with both and so it seemed fitting to find a recipe to merge them together. I like that this crust is salty and not too sweet in the slightest. If you look at the ingredient list you’ll notice it’s pretty minimal…the cheesecake has some fresh squeezed lemon juice and a quick sprinkle of sea salt and that’s about it for flavor. I wanted something fresh and clean and for the crème frâiche to shine through. She’s quite beautiful, easy to make and you can prepare her a day or so ahead of time. She’s quite the catch.

Other than that, it’s hot as hell here. And I’ve noticed that I am the least functional human being when the temperature goes up. All I can do is drink liquids, lay around, wonder how much water I’m retaining and hope for it to end. They say it will retreat on Monday but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Before We Get Started:

  • Crème Frâiche. I am completely obsessed with crème frâiche. It makes this cheesecake so fresh and airy, you’ll die. BUT, I get it if you can’t find it or you can’t be bothered. If that’s the case, just replace the crème frâiche with 16 ounces of cream cheese and you’re good.
  • The Crust. I like a thick, substantial crust. So just know that going in. Also, you want your pretzels to be ground pretty fine otherwise they’ll have a hard time adhering together once they’re coated in butter.
  • Cheesecake Tips. There are several important tips for a beautiful, crack-free cheesecake. First, throughout the entire mixing stage, mix everything on low. You’ll be so tempted to crank up the speed to get it done fast. Resist. Second, make sure that you continue to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl so that everything gets completely incorporated lessening the risk of chunks. Third, don’t skip the water bath (details below). It’s imperative. Lastly, sudden temperature changes are too much for cheesecake. So we let it cool a bit in the turned-off oven with the door cracked, then we give it some countertop cooling down time and then we finally transfer it to the fridge.
  • Temperature. Note that the crust cooks at a low temperature, then we crank up the heat to get the cheesecake going in the oven and then we turn it down so that it can do a low and slow bake in the oven for an hour. Make note and don’t forget to turn the oven up or down when necessary.
  • Brûléed Figs. I only brûléed half of the figs because I liked the color and texture contrast. You can brûlée all or none. Or, if you don’t have a kitchen torch, you could get a cast iron skillet screaming hot and place the figs, sugared side down, in the pan for 1-2 minutes max, until they are bronzed up a bit. I decided I like the grapes fresh…but if you’re feeling frisky I would throw them in the screaming hot skillet with some olive oil to get them glossy.
  • Make Ahead. I prefer making my cheesecake the day before and letting it get a full night’s chill in the refrigerator. This cheesecake will have some jiggle in the middle when it’s ready to come out of the oven and it needs that time to firm up completely. Plus, make ahead. It gives me life.
  • Decorating. Don’t decorate the top of the cheesecake with figs and grapes until you’re within an hour or so of serving.
  • Variations. Don’t be tethered to figs and grapes if you’re not feeling it or you happen to be reading this recipe from Australia and you’re happily moving into spring. I think there are all types of fruit you could pair it with (or none at all?), depending on the season and your mood.

Voting for the Saveur Awards is still happening until Wednesday, September 6th…DisplacedHousewife is halfway down the page in the Baking + Sweets category…vote as often and for as many people as you’d like! And this is the LAST time I’m asking so a big, fat thank you to each and every one of you!!!! xoxo

Let’s make some cheesecake, shall we?

Crème Frâiche Cheesecake With Pretzel Crust + Brûléed Figs and Grapes

Makes 10-12 Servings

INGREDIENTS

For the Crust

  • 2 cups pretzel crumbs (about 7 ½ ounces whole pretzels)
  • 3 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 13 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted*

*You’ll need 1 additional tablespoon of butter to grease your springform pan. 

For the Filling

  • 15 ounces crème frâiche, room temperature with any liquid drained off the top
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 16 oz sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

For the Top

  • 7-9 fresh figs, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup red grapes
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Butter your 9-inch springform pan, line with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave or on a stovetop. Set aside to cool while you make your crumbs. Grind up the pretzels in a Cusinart food processor or high-speed blender. You want them fine. Add the brown sugar and pulse several times. Drizzle the melted butter over the top and pulse until it’s completely blended in and it resembles wet sand. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared 9-inch springform. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press it even. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes and set aside to cool.
  3. Increase your oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Put a kettle on to boil 4 cups of water. You’ll need this for your water bath.
  4. In an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use your arms and a spatula), mix the softened crème frâiche and sugar on low for about 2 minutes. Use your spatula to scrape down the sides, to make sure everything is incorporated. Add the eggs and yolk, scraping down the sides again to make sure everything gets well blended together. Keep your machine on low…this should take about 2 minutes. Add the room temperature sour cream, fresh lemon juice and salt. Mix on low for another 2 minutes until well blended. Use the side of your spatula to smash down any rogue chunks of crème frâiche that are resisting blending in with the other folks.
  5. Wrap your springform pan, with the crust in it, in two layers of foil and set in a large roasting pan. Pour the cheesecake filing into the springform pan. Put the roasting pan, with the cheesecake in it, in the center of the oven. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan being careful not to get any water in with your cheesecake. Fill to about 1 cm up the side of the cheesecake pan. Should be about 3 to 4 cups of water.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for 1 hour more.
  7. When the timer goes off, turn the oven off and let it sit in the oven for 30 minutes, with the door open, still in the water bath. After 30 minutes take the cheesecake out of the oven. Let it sit at room temperature for about one hour. When cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap (still in the springform pan) and set in the fridge to finish cooling and set. At least several hours or ideally overnight.
  8. Just prior to serving, prep the figs. Place 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl and dip the figs cut side down. Then torch them until they get nicely bronzed up; see note above if you don’t have a kitchen torch. I want to reference George Hamilton but I just did last week and I think it’s just too soon. But you want a nice, deep bronzy (not burnt) look. I only brûléed half of the figs for some contrasting colors and textures. I placed them in a diagonal across the cake, going in different angles. Then place the grapes all around and on top of the figs to fill things out.
  9. Thank you for making this cheesecake and joining me on my crème frâiche bender! Tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful cakes!!!
On My Mind

Rebecca xoxo

 

33 Comments

  • Coco in the Kitchen 2017/09/19 at 11:17 PM

    What a
    LUSCIOUS
    concoction!

    Reply
  • Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry 2017/09/19 at 9:53 PM

    Back when I was twenty one, I used to work at a Cheesecake shop and after a year and half of working there, I burned myself out on cheesecake. But this recipe looks so light and tangy, perfect for the sweet figs. Can’t wait to make it!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/23 at 3:49 AM

      Nicole you need to jump back into the game!!!! This is the cheesecake to get you back in there!!! It’s so good — cheers!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Hanne 2017/09/09 at 7:15 PM

    When I saw the first photo I seriously had a spike of envy. “Who are these people who create such perfection?” and then I remembered “oh yes, this is a food blog, she’ll talk me through the steps” I’m such a weirdo. I agree with your thoughts on a minimum of ingredients and having the flavours shine . Especially if one of the flavours is creme fraiche.❤️

    Reply
  • Hanne 2017/09/09 at 7:14 PM

    When I saw the first photo I seriously had a spike of envy. “Who are these people who create such perfection” and then I remember “oh yes, this is a food blog,she’ll talk me through the steps” I’m such a weird. I agree with your thoughts on a minimum of ingredients and having the flavours shine . Especially if one of the flavours is creme fraiche.❤️

    Reply
  • Lynn | The Road to Honey 2017/09/08 at 6:02 PM

    I can’t believe your weather is so toasty. I wore my long sleeve workout top to Starbucks this morning and I wished I had my polar fleece on top. Yep. . .fall is definitely easing it’s way into Boston. And as much as I hate for summer days to go bye bye . . .I must admit I do love the flavors of fall and the smell of fall leaves wafting in the air (wishing I had some of those grapes those).

    This cheesecake looks like it was sent down straight from heaven. I still can’t get over how perfectly smooth the top looks. And the figs and olive branches lend such an elegant touch.

    Reply
  • Christina 2017/09/07 at 3:54 PM

    I can’t compliment your food photography enough. STUNNING! I love the elegant design of figs across the cake. The recipe looks so GOOD!

    Reply
  • Claudia | The Brick Kitchen 2017/09/07 at 4:43 AM

    so so pretty! and yes, I am one of those people in australia and strawberries are crazy cheap right now, so i’d be thinking some kind of vanilla roast strawberry action could work on top… and to be honest I’ve never made a cheesecake so I feel like this should happen sometime haha

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/07 at 1:27 PM

      Oh my god Claudia — roasted strawberries would be soooooo good!!!! You have to do it — that sounds incredible!!!! xoxoxo

      Reply
  • Tiffany Matthe 2017/09/07 at 3:59 AM

    You seriously just blew my mind away with these beautiful pictures of your pretty cheesecake! I am very compelled to make it now, even though I don’t have any of the ingredients. Your photos are messing with my logic!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/07 at 1:26 PM

      Hi Tiffany — Thank you so much!!! What a great response to this cheesecake. I hope you get the ingredients and make it…it’s so light and tart and delicious!!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Laura | Tutti Dolci 2017/09/05 at 10:43 PM

    I can’t get over how gorgeous this cheesecake is! You’ve seriously outdone yourself! :)

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/07 at 2:39 AM

      Thank you Laura!!! I was super excited with how it turned out. And I may never make cheesecake with cream cheese again. But then I was wondering…is it even still a cheesecake without the cream cheese? Hmm…. xoxo

      Reply
  • Amisha 2017/09/05 at 8:02 PM

    This is such a gorgeous looking cheesecake, one that I would dig right into! I love the pictures and the decoration! So on point!!! :D

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/07 at 2:41 AM

      Oh Amisha — Thank you so much!!! I wish I could share a piece with you!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Erin Clarkson 2017/09/05 at 10:25 AM

    Oooooohhh this is a thing of beauty! I had never had a baked cheesecake before I moved to the states, so I am a little intimidated to make one… I’m going to give this guy a try though! x

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/05 at 3:22 PM

      Why thanks my lady!!!! I like them because they’re easy and make ahead — two of my favorite things!!! I hope you do! xoxoxo

      Reply
  • Ruby 2017/09/05 at 10:06 AM

    This cake is so freakin’ beautiful I can’t even stand it. So classy + decadent. I honestly have never made a cheesecake by myself, but this lady of a cake is calling my name! xx

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/05 at 3:26 PM

      Thank you so much Ruby!!! I think it’s time you made a cheesecake!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Christine | What do you crave? 2017/09/03 at 8:51 PM

    This cake is a thing of beauty. Really stunning and I bet it tastes even better than it looks!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/04 at 7:51 PM

      Thanks my sweet friend!!! I love the simplicity of flavors happening. Just nice, fresh and clean!!! Sending lots of love! xoxo

      Reply
  • Traci | Vanilla And Bean 2017/09/03 at 6:13 PM

    Well now, Rebecca that is a beautiful cheesecake. I’m dying over that pretzel crust – so good! Thank you too for your tips on the perfect cheesecake. I am typically not very patient when it comes to mixing… noted my dear! xo (PS – pulling for you in the blog awards!) xo

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/04 at 7:50 PM

      Thank you so much Traci — that means a lot!!! And yes to pretzel crust!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Alida | Simply Delicious 2017/09/03 at 2:00 PM

    I think this is the most beautiful cheesecake I ever laid my eyes on!! Hope it cools down soon Rebecca!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/03 at 3:51 PM

      You are too nice Alida!!! Thank you!!! And I wish!!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen 2017/09/03 at 2:22 AM

    Love how easy this recipe looks Rebecca! And I love how you’ve let the creme fraiche shine by only adding the lemon juice and salt. So refreshing. And those figs and grapes on top are just gorgeous! This one’s a total winner! Hope temps start to cool down! XO

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/03 at 3:21 AM

      Hi Mary Ann!!
      It’s so easy and turns out perfect — I think you would love it!!! And me too — I’m over the heat!!!
      xoxo

      Reply
  • Kathryn Pauline 2017/09/03 at 1:33 AM

    I love everything about this recipe and I can’t wait to try it. The pretzel crust, especially, oh my gosh. Outstanding!!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/03 at 2:13 AM

      Hi Kathryn! Thank you so much for your sweet words!! The pretzel crust — yes!!!! It takes a wee more butter to hold it together than a typical graham cracker crust, but so worth it. I hope you enjoy it!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Josh 2017/09/02 at 10:56 PM

    Wow!! looks amazing! So excited to make the recipe

    Reply

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