No-bake Mascarpone Cheesecake


I supposed it had to happen sooner or later, international stardom that is.  Rumour has it they asked George Clooney and Brad Pitt to play the lead role in the upcoming movie “The Story of Real Men Can Cook”, but both got ditched due to not being quite handsome enough, so I’ll have to do it myself…

Right, let’s get back down to earth shall we?

I received an email a while back from the team behind Pasella, a popular South African lifestyle program on TV with more than 2 million viewers.  They wanted to know if I’d be interested in doing a shoot with them. I’d be joined by two awesome food bloggers, Ilse Van Der Merwe from and Ishay Govender-Ypma from The Food and the Fabulous.

I thought about it for all of about 2.34 seconds and responded with a “Hell Yea!”.  After all it’s not every day you get to show your stuff on TV!

I got asked to submit a few recipes and they chose this one, a No-Bake Mascarpone Cheesecake with Preserved Figs and a Walnut Praline.

We’ll be shooting the insert later today (7th Feb)  and it should air on the 29th of Feb, so  if you are in SA, be sure to turn on the telly and point and laugh watch a professional at work (that would be the camera crew).

Right let’s get cooking!


For the Praline

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 100gm Walnuts, crushed
  • about a cup of water

For the Crust

  • 100gm Tennis biscuits
  • 50gm butter

For the Filling

  • 2 cups Mascarpone
  • 125ml cream
  • zest of a lemon, juice of half a lemon
  • 3/4 cup of castor sugar
  • a jar of preserved green figs



Place the tennis biscuits in a zip-loc bag and crush with a rolling pin until you end up with fine crumbs.



Add the butter and mix well.



Scoop about a tablespoon or so of this mix into a cooking ring and flatten it with the base of a glass or some other suitable object.  Place this in the fridge to set while we work on the rest.



In a mixing bowl, mix the Mascarpone, cream and sugar.



Slice up a few of the figs as thin as you can without losing a finger.



Just before you continue, mix the lemon zest and juice in with the mascarpone mix.  Do not overstir this, just give it a good mix.  Get the moulds out of the fridge and scoop in a base layer of the mascarpone mix.

Top with a layer of figs.



Top up with another layer of mascarpone and return to the fridge for 3-4 hours to set.



For the Praline, put the sugar into a pan and place it on the stove over medium heat.  Do not stir the sugar much.  You’ll see crystals start to form on the sides of the pan, this is what the water is for.  Take a pastry brush, dip in  the water  and “paint” some water just above the crystals.



Be careful here, this stuff will burn like hell if it touches the skin!  Let it boil, resisting the urge to try and stir too much.  You can swirl the pan now and then to move things around.



While that is boiling away, roughly crush the walnuts and place on some baking paper.  I am using a silicon based sheet here, but I’m just being fancy.



Do not take your eyes off the sugar for too long, you will notice that at some stage the majority of the crystals will break down and you’ll get this lovely dark brown caramel liquid.  Remove from heat immediately.



Pour this mix over the walnuts (again careful!) and let it cool for 30 minutes.  You can then break it into shards and use as garnish.



To serve, garnish with figs, praline and lemon zest. Heat the cooking rings with a blowtorch (a hot dishcloth could work too) and carefully lift it up.



There you have it, you may want to adjust the amount of sugar and lemon zest etc to suit your taste, but this should be a good starting point.  Feel free to experiment with using other fruits / berries as well.

*Note* I’ve found that sometimes when making this dessert, the mascarpone mix may split a little bit, making for a slightly chunky appearance as seen in the images above. Most of the time it comes out a lot smoother in appearance.  I’m not sure what is causing it yet as it doesn’t happen most of the time.  I think it has to do with the quality / age of the mascarpone and how well it was stored etc.  I will do some more research and update the recipe with more tips





We had a whole lot of fun shooting with the Pasella team.  They really were great to work with and I imagine had to have a lot of patience working with the lot of us.

It was an interesting experience for me, nerve-racking at times, but the team really helped us ease into it.  I look forward to seeing the end result.

Some images below

Me about to get started


Me busy doing my thang


Ilse, Ishay and me, TV Stars in the making :P

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Author:Fritz Brand

Passionate Foodie, Blues Man, Photographer, Technology Geek and all round cool dude.

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