• Mandala cheesecakes (The Sweet Life with Elise Strachan)Source: The Sweet Life with Elise Strachan
From mandala designs to choc-topped cheesecake jars, here's how to take your cheesecake next-level.
31 Mar 2020 - 5:28 PM  UPDATED 1 Apr 2020 - 11:53 AM

Cheesecake is like a blank canvas and with a little elbow grease, you can turn that cheesy pie into a work of art. Here, to inspire you, are seven of our faves.

Hidden beauty

We can’t talk about good-looking cheesecakes without turning the spotlight on Adam Liaw’s choco-moo cheesecake, a Japanese favourite with a smooth, silky texture and a distinctive ‘cowhide’ pattern.

Simple but stunning

The lush appeal of this rich, elegant cheesecake from Pati Jinich lies in the two different layers (both are easy to make) and the ring of chopped pecans. With a cream cheese and condensed milk layer, and a sour cream and dulce de leche layer, you can imagine just how rich and moreish this is!

Dulce de leche cheesecake

Apple and caramel

“Apples and cheese have gone together forever, so it’s no surprise this combination works so well – in fact, it’s stunning. Most will prefer it with the caramel, but I quite like it without,” says Poh Ling Yeow of her cream cheese-based apple caramel cheesecake. This beuaty sits on a biscuit and nut base and is topped with buttery brandied apples and a caramel sauce.

Mandala masterpieces

Feel like a slice of “amazing, gorgeous, therapeutic, spiritual edible art”? That’s what one of Australia’s most popular bakers and host of the brand-new series, The Sweet Life, Elise Strachan, calls the enchanting mandala cheesecakes made by show guest, Yasoda Welsh.

But we’re not asking if you’d like to eat these incredible creations. (Answer = yes!) We’re talking about MAKING them! And it’s easier than it looks.

“Every single piece is an absolute masterpiece. … as tasty as it is absolutely stunning,” says Elise Strachan, when she tucks into a slice of Welsh’s vibrant cheesecake. The design on the top is made using a more liquid version of the delicious sour cream and condensed milk mixture used in the filling, thinned out with coconut cream.

Almost too pretty to eat.

Now if you think it looks a bit intimidating, you aren’t alone, but Strachan has some words of reassurance.  “I found it easier than I thought, and what I loved about working with Yasoda is that she has a Hare Krishna background and she’s very spiritual in the way she uses the mandala.

"Actually, creating one beside her was a very therapeutic, almost spiritual, experience. It was like the edible equivalent of adult colouring in."

"Actually, creating one beside her was a very therapeutic, almost spiritual, experience. It was like the edible equivalent of adult colouring in. We spend a good hour just drizzling and striping and pulling toothpicks through it to make these phenomenal designs.”

Mandala cheesecake

Experiment and let your creative genius take over with these colourful, creative cakes. The coconut icing and raspberry coulis add plenty of flavour, making this cheesecake equally delicious as it is eye-catching. 

Pile on the chocolate

Does Strachan have her own favourite ways to add glory to a cheesecake? “Oh, do I! I have MANY fave ways to pimp a cheesecake,” Strachan tells SBS Food. You can take pretty much any cheesecake in the world and top it with mounds of your favourite fruit, or favourite chocolate bar or candy bar, to completely change the flavour, to completely change the visuals of it, and make it very personal to the person you are giving it to, or serving it to.

"For example, crush Oreo cookies and you have a cookies and cream cheesecake. Chop up a Snickers bar and you have a Snickers cheesecake. Put fresh strawberries all over the top and drizzle it with chocolate, and you’ve now got a very professional-looking fresh, fruity cheesecake."

Another way to put a twist on a choc-laden cheesecake: Strachan’s totally indulgent Nutella Oreo cheesecake jars:

Stunning single serves

Channel your inner pastry chef with neat little individual desserts. In this recipe, star baker Paul Hollywood plays with the look and the flavour, combining the sweetness of roast pumpkin and the twang of ginger to create petit individual cheesecakes.

A Polish pastry

Prefer to go big and lock in that pastry hit? This Krakow-style cheesecake (sernik Krakowski) puts a pie-like twist on a dairy-centric dessert, with a pastry base and pastry lattice top encasing a sweet cheese and sultana filling - because sometimes simple is best.

Catch the two-part series, The Sweet Life with Elise Strachan, on April 2 and 9 at 8:30pm on SBS Food and later on SBS On Demand.

Find more inspiration in SBS Food's cheesecake recipe collection

Baked lemon cheesecake

The ricotta cheese in this baked cheesecake adds lightness and the dates add a subtle sweetness. 

Cookies & cream blueberry cheesecake

This crustless cheesecake is a real treat with few ingredients. The cookies crumbled over the top add a great crunch and the blueberries add a touch of sweetness. 

Peat cake (turbakook)

If a Monaco Bar delved deep into cheesecake territory, it would look a little something like this. This simple recipe consists of a creamy cheese filling and a crumbly crushed biscuit coating.

Green tea glazed cheesecakes

You will need 8 x ¾ cup springform cake pans or ramekins.