Christmas with Matt Preston

Apricot cheesecake with a decadent twist

Whether you’re having a quiet Christmas affair with just a few family members or you’re hosting a gathering for every man and his uncle, it’s time to start thinking about the all-important Christmas menu. And here at hardtofind HQ, we think dessert should be at the top of your to-think-about list (mmm cake). To get you started, we’ve enlisted the help of food extraordinaire and renowned dessert lover Matt Preston. Following on from his take on Eton mess yesterday, as promised Matt has shared his recipe for apricot cheesecake from his brand new cookbook, Matt Preston Cookbook. And nothing says summer in Australia more than luscious stone fruit, such as apricots, perfect atop an indulgently creamy cheesecake. Yum!

apricot cheesecake33365

Apricot cheesecake with a spiced base

Serves 8-10

There are certain flavour combinations that resonate more intensely with me than others. Cardamom and apricot is one of these. Make it part of a cheesecake with a biscuit base that’s 50 per cent gingernut biscuits and we have something rather special on our hands. Subtle but special. I want to say ‘elegant’ here but I suspect that I’ve already used that word far too much in this book. The thing is, my brief to myself for the food in this tome was to be somewhere between a country kitchen, a cool beach shack and a slightly dishevelled and disreputable gentleman’s club: all faded elegance and barely whispered scandals. The woman I love tells me to stop being a pretentious idiot and that this is ‘only a cookbook’ and not some work of great literature. I suspect we can all agree that she has a point.


150g sweet biscuits (gingernut, Marie biscuits)
40g brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
60g unsalted butter, melted

3 gold-strength gelatine leaves (or 9g powdered gelatine)
30ml boiling water
500g cream cheese, at room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
320g sweetened condensed milk
2 egg whites

2 tbs apricot jam
2 tbs brown sugar
50ml Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 tsp orange blossom water
4 fresh apricots, sliced into quarters
40g macadamias, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line the base and sides of a 23cm springform cake pan with baking paper.
  2. Finely grind the biscuits in a food processor along with the sugar and the ground cardamom. Stir the melted butter into the crumbs until combined. Press the crumbs evenly and firmly into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Allow to cool.
  3. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water and then dissolve in the boiled water and leave to cool. If using powdered gelatine, dissolve in the hot water and allow to cool.
  4. Beat the cream cheese with the lemon zest until soft and smooth, add the gelatine and mix through. Now add the condensed milk and continue beating until combined. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks and fold gently through the cream cheese mixture. Pour the cheese mixture over the base and refrigerate until set.
  5. Place the apricot jam, the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and the Grand Marnier in a small saucepan and stir to mix. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened. Turn off the heat and add the orange blossom water and the apricots and stir to coat the fruit.
  6. When the fruit is cool, remove the cheesecake from the cake pan and place onto a serving plate. Pile the apricots on top in a mound. Drizzle with some syrup and sprinkle with the chopped macadamias. Enjoy!

Gifts we’d give Matt Preston for Christmas

Gifts for foodies

  1. ‘Scizza’ pizza cutter, $34.95
  2. ‘Efeet’ bowl, $39.95
  3. Silver-plated vintage ‘sprouts just want to be loved’ tablespoon, $57
  4. ‘Flick me’ linen tea towel, $35
  5. ‘Deer’ plywood wine holder, $49.95
  6. Silicone ice ball maker (2-pack), $27.95
  7. Rick Stein serving bowl, $40.25
  8. Kitchen ‘pie’ timer, $27.90

Shop our entire gifts for foodie collection here
Matt Preston cookbook
MasterChef judge, food journalist and restaurant critic Matt Preston knows a good dish when he sees one. His new book, Matt Preston Cookbook (Pan Macmillan Australia, $39.99), is full of recipes perfect for Christmas entertaining and is available in bookshops now. 

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