Recipe: Ruth Pretty’s Grapefruit Cheesecake

There’s nothing more heartwarming than a hand-me-down recipe. 

Words: Ruth Pretty  Styling & Photos: Carolyn Robertson

I relish the special recipes I’m given. This one, handed to me years ago by great cook and regular cooking-school participant Pamela Spencer, is a beauty.


For the base:
250g (1 packet) gingernuts
120g butter, melted

For the cheesecake filling:
520g (2-4) grapefruit, peel and pith removed
finely grated zest and juice of 1 grapefruit (additional to above)
1 level tablespoon gelatine powder
2 eggs
150g sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
340g Philadelphia cream cheese, chopped, at room temperature
finely grated lemon zest and juice of ½ lemon
280ml cream
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
whipped cream for serving, optional

Serves 10-12


Using a food processor with a metal blade, process the gingernuts into fine crumbs (it’s best to do this in three batches). Put the crumbs in a bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well. (If you wish, reserve about a tablespoon of the crumb mixture for decoration.)

Lightly grease with baking spray a 20cm round loose-bottomed, springform cake tin. Press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the base. Chill for one hour or until firm.

Segment the grapefruit (do this over a bowl to capture the juice). Lay the segments on a paper towel-lined tray. Squeeze the additional grapefruit into the bowl and measure out ½ cup juice. Put 2 tablespoons of that juice in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the gelatine and leave for 10 minutes or until it forms a sponge.

Put 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk into a small pot with the sugar, salt and 1 tablespoon of the remaining measured grapefruit juice. Stir over low heat until it forms a thick, smooth custard. Remove from the heat, then stir in the gelatine mixture and allow it to cool.

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Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese, remaining grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, lemon juice and zest until creamy and smooth. Add the custard mixture and mix until smooth and combined. Set aside.

Whisk the cream and vanilla until stiff. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining egg white until it forms soft peaks. Gently fold the vanilla cream, whisked egg white and ⅔ of the prepared grapefruit segments into the cream cheese mixture until evenly combined.

Spoon this mixture into the prepared gingernut crust. Gently wobble to encourage a smooth top. Cover and chill overnight or until set. To serve, decorate with remaining grapefruit segments and any reserved crumb mixture. Serve with whipped cream if desired.


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Recipe: Simon Gault’s Golden Kūmara Cheesecake

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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