Last Update: September 28, 2023
The best dishes start with the best ingredients — that goes for whatever you’re making. And some of the best ingredients happen to come from New Zealand.
Fortunately, you don’t need to book a flight across the world to find high-quality products from New Zealand-based brands. Thrive Market is a treasure trove of high-quality ingredients from around the world, including Kiwi favorites like nutrient-packed manuka honey and Polynesian vanilla bean paste — and they’re just what your home-baked treats need.
For New Zealander Erin Clarkson, the blogger and recipe developer behind @cloudykitchen, ingredients from her homeland are a must when dreaming up her sweet and savory recipes. “My inspiration comes from all over the place,” she says. “[It’s] a mixture of things that are in season, inspiration from others online, and re-working the childhood favorites that I grew up baking and eating.”
When Clarkson, a former geologist who once worked on an oil rig in the Taranaki region of New Zealand’s North Island, relocated to the United States, her new surroundings inspired her to “take American classics that I didn’t grow up making (such as pie) and put my own spin on them.”
Even when she’s trying her hand at something as American as apple pie, Clarkson relies on some of her favorite New Zealand-sourced essentials. “I think the thing that really sets [New Zealand] apart from other parts of the world is the quality of our ingredients,” she says. “I didn’t realize until I moved away just how lucky we are having access to so many amazing products.”
“When you bake from scratch, using high-quality ingredients really does make a huge difference to the final outcome,” Clarkson says. Here are a few of her top picks from New Zealand-based brands:
Heilala Pure Vanilla Paste
“I love the quality and flavor of the Heilala Pure Vanilla Paste, and they are an amazing company doing incredible things. Their paste is used in top restaurants around the world and I love that we can get that same quality of product for home use.”
“Fix and Fogg has an incredible range of products. I have used their Coffee and Maple peanut butter in this cheesecake, but their Everything Butter is my number one choice for putting on my toast. It’s just the best peanut butter.”
“Wedderspoon is amazing quality honey. I love to use it as is in drinks or on toast, but it also works so well in baking applications too to add both sweetness and depth of flavor.”
Clarkson recommends measuring your ingredients by weight rather than volume when baking to ensure the best results (and save yourself the trouble of measuring peanut butter and honey in a measuring cup), but we’ve included both below.
Yield: 12 servings
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 4 hours (includes 3.5 hours of chilling time)
For the crust
200 grams (1 ⅔ cups) graham cracker crumbs
120 grams (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
Pinch of salt
For the filling
200 grams (¾ cup + 1 tablespoon) heavy cream, cold, divided
7 grams (1 ¾ teaspoon) powdered gelatin
225 grams (1 cup) Greek-style yogurt, at room temperature
300 grams (1 ⅓ cups) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
165 grams (½ cup) Wedderspoon Manuka Honey
1 teaspoon Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste
Pinch of salt
190 grams (¾ cup) Fix & Fogg Coffee and Maple Peanut Butter, divided
First, make the crust: Grease and line an 8” square nonstick pan with parchment paper extending over the edges.
In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and salt, and mix together until combined.
*Note: Different brands of graham crackers absorb different amounts of butter, so you may need to adjust the amount of butter in the crust. The mixture should resemble wet sand.
Transfer the crust mixture to the prepared pan and even out, then smooth down using an offset spatula or the bottom of a flat drinking glass. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
In a small saucepan, combine 50g of the cream and the gelatin. Place over a low heat and warm, stirring often, until the gelatin has dissolved. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer or a whisk, whip the remaining 150g heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Add the Greek-style yogurt and fold in to incorporate.
In a separate medium bowl (no need to wash the mixer), whip the cream cheese with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the honey, vanilla, and salt, and mix to incorporate. Add 160g of the peanut butter, and beat until well combined. Add the cooled gelatin mixture to the cheesecake filling and mix until incorporated.
Add the whipped cream and yogurt mixture to the bowl of cheesecake filling and fold to incorporate.
Spoon the cheesecake filling over the prepared base, smoothing down with the back of a spoon and then spreading with an offset spatula until smooth.
Transfer the remaining 30g of peanut butter into a piping bag or sandwich bag with the corner snipped off. To create the feathering on top of the cheesecake, pipe horizontal stripes of peanut butter across the surface of the cheesecake, then using the point of a knife or a skewer, feather it by dragging the tip of the knife up and down through the lines of peanut butter to give a pattern. Wipe the knife or skewer between each pass.
Tap the cheesecake lightly on the counter, then cover with plastic wrap, ensuring the wrap does not touch the surface of the cheesecake.
Chill the cheesecake for at least 3 and a half hours, or up to overnight, until set. Remove from the pan by using the parchment paper sling as handles.
Cut the cheesecake into bars using a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Erin Clarkson.
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