This creamy baked Pistachio Kulfi Cheesecake is infused with pistachio, cardamom, and fragrant saffron. Finished with pistachio cream and rose.
If you’ve been here for a while, you may have noticed that I’m ever so slightly cheesecake obsessed. Is it a phase? Perhaps, but I hope it’s one that never ends.
I’ve been making and developing eggless baked cheesecakes for around 6 years. It very quickly overtook my love for its non-baked counterpart.
One of the first baked eggless cheesecakes I developed was a classic New York style cheesecake. A recipe I definitely need to add to the blog in the near future.
You may have also noticed my other obsession, pistachio kulfi. The combination of pistachio, cardamom, saffron, and rose is quite exquisite and something I’ve truly fallen deeply in love with.
I’ve shared recipes previously for my Pistachio Kulfi Cookies, Almond and Pistachio Kulfi Shortbread, and my Pistachio Kulfi Milk Cake. All of which have been incredibly popular, which makes me think that you guys share the same love that I have.
Needless to say, It was time to unite my two favourites and add another dessert to my Pistachio Kulfi Collection. So let’s introduce this Baked Pistachio Kulfi Cheesecake.
Baked Pistachio Kulfi Cheesecake
This cheesecake is the culmination of a classic baked cheesecake with the flavours of pistachio kulfi. It’s a fusion dessert that has to be one of my absolute favourite cheesecake flavours that I’ve created to date. The cheesecake itself is split into 3 distinct layers.
It all starts off with a classic biscuit base, however it’s mixed with plenty of ground pistachios. This gives it texture and a pop of colour. It’s also very fitting for the dessert.
The next layer is the cream cheese layer. This is infused with pistachio cream, cardamom and saffron. It’s absolutely DELICIOUS. It also has the smoothest texture and a pronounced dairy flavour which is exactly how kulfi should be.
But I’ll explain a bit more about kulfi in the next paragraph. The cheesecake is then finished with more pistachio cream, ground pistachios, and fragrant dried rose petals.
Not only is this a dessert that visually looks beautiful, but it also tastes incredible. It’s been an absolute hit with my friends and family.
So much so that I ended up making it twice in the space of one week as it had been so popular. It’s great enjoyed on it’s own, but this cheesecake also pairs exceptionally well with a mug of coffee or masala chai (Indian spiced tea). So those would definitely be my top two recommendations.
What is Pistachio Kulfi?
Kulfi is a traditional Indian ice cream that’s commonly made with milk, sugar, nuts and cardamom. The milk is often simmered for a long period of time to thicken it and to evaporate some of the liquid, in turn leaving a high proportion of fat solids.
This allows for a more creamy, rich, and slightly more dense result, which is usually served straight out of a kulfi mould. I can’t think of a single wedding I’ve been to which hasn’t ended with kulfi being served around.
That’s how important it is to us. Hence I was adamant that this recipe must do justice to the original pistachio kulfi.
Kulfi is an immensely popular dessert and it also encompasses a huge variety of flavours. Think of it as the Indian equivalent to gelato, and similarly it is a rather broad term. Some of these varieties include:
- Mango kulfi
- Malai kulfi
- Pistachio kulfi
- Strawberry kulfi
- Saffron and pistachio kulfi
- Coconut kulfi
The list is honestly endless. However for this recipe I’ll be using the flavours from pistachio kulfi. Which is my favourite one!
Pistachios are the best nuts ever
I completely stand by this. They are most certainly my favourite nuts. Everyone has their preference when it comes to nuts, so it’s totally ok if you don’t feel the same way.
But to me, these small vibrant green nuts always come out on top.
Pistachios are quite earthy in flavour with a mild sweetness. The roasting process intensifies this flavour even further.
However salted roasted pistachios can lose their original flavour due to the potency of the salt. Hence we want to avoid those here.
Cheesecakes and why you need to bake them
Cheesecakes tend to come in two main varieties. The non baked versions and the baked versions (though steamed versions also exist). There are a fair few differences between the two.
Most will probably be more familiar with the non baked versions as they are easier to make and more widely sold. Hence the baked cheesecakes occasionally get wrongly overlooked.
Cheesecake itself is essentially a rich, sweet dessert that’s primarily made up of cream cheese. It often also has a base layer which can be made from biscuits, crackers and even cake sponge.
It’s the middle layer where the cream cheese comes into play, and this can often also be made with ricotta or mascarpone. Other ingredients are often added in, such as double cream, yoghurt, soured cream, eggs, fruits, syrups, chocolate etc.
This is either then baked (for the baked version), or refrigerated (for the non baked version).
Baked cheesecakes are far more ‘set’ than their counterpart, and in my opinion, have a far superior texture. The baking process, which normally involves eggs, allows the cheesecake to develop a smooth and creamy texture.
Though contrary to the name it’s not cake-like at all, and the result is totally a melt in the mouth experience. It’s incredibly difficult to achieve this texture from a non-baked cheesecake which tends to be far softer and lighter.
Having said that, baked cheesecakes are not always dense. It depends on the recipe and the method.
This baked Pistachio Kulfi Cheesecake is incredibly light. If you’ve been sceptical about baked cheesecakes in the past, then this is the recipe to convince you otherwise.
Eggless Baked Pistachio Kulfi Cheesecake
Yes, correct! This recipe is eggless. There are no eggs required within this recipe in order to ‘set’ the cheesecake and to achieve that rich, creamy, smooth texture. I’ve designed this recipe to work perfectly without the eggs.
You won’t even notice the difference without them. The cheesecake bakes perfectly with the most incredible luxurious texture. In order to do this, we’re going to be using cornflour/corn starch.
But I must clarify the cornflour/corn starch confusion as it’s the most common question I get asked whenever it’s used in a recipe.
Cornflour or corn starch?
Cornflour in the UK is the same as corn starch in the US. It is a white powder that is essentially the starch derived from the corn kernels.
Technically corn starch would be the correct name as it’s more true to what the ingredient actually is. However, I refer to it in my recipes as cornflour as that is how it is sold in the UK, where I’m based as well as the majority of my readers.
The purpose of this ingredient is to thicken, bind, and set the cheese layer during baking.
What is referred to as corn flour in the US is known as corn meal in the UK. That’s more of a yellow flour that can range in fine to coarse consistencies.
This is used more for doughs, cakes, and corn breads. But this is NOT what we want to use here.
This Baked Pistachio Kulfi Cheesecake is perfect for:
- Impressing friends and family
- Eggless baking
- Diwali! Which is coming up very soon (from the time this blog was written)
I’ll be making this for my friends and family this Diwali as it truly has that show stopping presence. It’s been a total hit with everyone whilst I was testing and developing the recipe.
What you’ll need to make this Baked Pistachio Kulfi Cheesecake
(The full recipe is at the end of the blogpost)
For this recipe you’ll require:
- Digestive biscuits – or graham crackers for US readers
- Roasted unsalted pistachios – please do not use the salted variety!
- Unsalted butter
- Cream cheese – use a full fat cream cheese here. Mascarpone would work too however it’s far richer than cream cheese. Hence I would not recommend it here as it’s a very rich dessert in itself
- Evaporated milk – not sweetened condensed milk. Evaporated milk is normally sold in a tin and it is an unsweetened product that’s made by evaporating the liquid portion within milk. Sweetened condensed milk is, as the name suggests, sweetened. Evaporated milk has a runny texture that can easily be poured whilst sweetened condensed milk is very thick. If you use sweetened condensed milk the cheesecake will be far too sweet
- Pistachio cream/paste – I’ll explain this further in the next paragraph
- Vanilla extract or essence
- Ground cardamom
- Cornflour – or corn starch for US readers (see above for the full explanation)
- Dried rose petals – optional but adds a lovely pop of colour, flavour, and fragrance. I purchase mine from Waitrose (for UK readers)
To make this Vegan:
Substitute the butter, cream cheese, and evaporated milk for vegan counterparts. These are readily available.
The pistachio cream is a little trickier, I haven’t found a vegan sweetened pistachio cream. There are plenty of pure unsweetened pistachio pastes that are vegan however. I’d recommend using that instead.
I haven’t tested this myself however using my best judgement I’d imagine you’d need around 100g of pure pistachio paste.
You’ll then need to add around 100g of caster sugar to the filling to compensate for the sweetness. Though this can always be increased/decreased to preference.
For the pistachio glaze on top, simply mix the pure pistachio paste with maple/agave syrup.
Pistachio Paste- What is it? Where do I find it?
This has to be one of the best culinary creations known to mankind. It is essentially the pistachio equivalent of peanut butter. It’s a rich, vibrant green paste that’s made from pistachios.
There are a few varieties that exist with differing quantities of pistachio. It’s also often referred to, and sold as ‘Pistachio cream‘.
There are pure pistachio pastes available that are 100% pistachio. And there are also sweetened varieties that are essentially a combination of pure pistachio paste and white chocolate.
Now both would work here, but I would in fact recommend the sweetened variety. It’s more accessible and it’s cheaper (pure pistachio paste can be quite expensive).
We’re also not adding any additional sugar into the cheesecake as the sweetened pistachio paste is sweet enough.
I use the ‘Pisti Pistachio Cream’ which I purchase from Costco. It’s also available on Amazon, though it is more expensive on there in comparison to Costco. However any sweetened pistachio paste/cream will do.
The paste can be purchased on Amazon here: (though it is cheaper via Costco)
This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link. This is the product that I use in this recipe. It is not a gifted or sponsored product. By using this affiliate link, I receive a small commission which is at no expense to yourself. This helps to support this blog for its day to day running. Many thanks.
I can’t advise on making your own pistachio paste as mine has never come out as smooth as the shop bought jars. In order to really achieve that smooth creamy texture, you need to use a melanger.
This is a machine that grinds nuts and cocoa between stone or granite until it is entirely smooth. That texture is not achievable with a normal household blender.
Baking in a water bath – everything you need to know
Baked cheesecakes tend to work best when baked within a water bath. All this means is that the cheesecake tin is placed into a larger tray and boiling water is then poured into that outer tray.
The cheesecake tin has to be wrapped tightly in several layers of foil to ensure no water gets into it. Otherwise it can cause the base to turn soggy and the cheese layer to curdle.
The purpose of the water bath is to introduce steam into the baking process and also to control the temperature. This helps to prevent cracks forming whilst the cheesecake bakes as it stops the top from drying out and forming a crust.
A water bath also keeps a consistent temperature around the sides of the cheesecake. The largest hazard to cheesecakes is a sudden temperature change, so the water bath helps to negate this.
The final texture of the cheesecake is also far superior when baked in a water bath. It’s far more smooth and creamy – which is exactly what we want.
How to make this Baked Pistachio Kulfi Cheesecake (photos)
Let’s start with the biscuit base
1) Start by blitzing the biscuits in a food processor, or crushing inside a sealed bag with a rolling pin until the texture resembles 2) Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the pistachios. The pistachios should be coarsely ground
3) Transfer the pistachios to a bowl along with the crushed biscuits
4) Add the melted butter and mix together
5) Once mixed, the texture should resemble wet sand
6) Prepare your baking tin by greasing it all over as well as lining the sides with baking paper. Transfer the biscuit mixture into the tin and firmly press down until even. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes
Next let’s make the cream cheese filling
1) Toast a generous pinch of saffron on a low heat for around 1 minute. Ensure to keep it moving to prevent burning
2) Place the softened cream cheese and pistachio cream into a large mixing bowl
3) Add the evaporated milk along with vanilla, ground cardamom, the saffron (crumble this into a powder between your fingertips), along with a pinch of salt
4) Whisk on a low speed until incorporated
5) The mixture should now be completely incorporated and smooth
6) Next sieve in the cornflour (corn starch for US readers)
7) Whisk once more until incorporated
8) Once again the mixture should be completely smooth
9) Once the base has frozen, prepare the foil seal by wrapping the tin tightly in 5 pieces of foil. Do an extra 6th wrap if you’re worried
10) Ensure that the foil goes up to the top edge of the the tin
11) Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared tin. Then place the tin into a larger oven tray. A deep roasting tray will work well
12) Pour boiling water into the outer tray, taking care to ensure no water goes onto the cheesecake. The water should go up half way of the height of the cheesecake tin. Place into the pre-heated oven and bake
13) Once baked remove from the oven but allow the cheesecake tin to remain in the water for 60 minutes. This will allow for a gradual cooling process
14) After 60 minutes remove the cheesecake tin as well as the foil and transfer the tin to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely for a further 3-4 hours. Then place in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours or preferably overnight
Let’s do the final pistachio cream layer
1) After the cheesecake has been refrigerated, remove it from the tin and transfer to your desired serving board/plate. You should be able to slide a server under the cheesecake base to swiftly lift it over
2) Melt some more pistachio cream in the microwave and pour on top of the cheesecake. And then smooth it over to cover the entire surface
3) Add plenty of ground pistachios to garnish the top of the cheesecake. Then lightly press these down, they will stick to the pistachio cream
4) Finish with some dried rose petals and enjoy!
How to make Baked Pistachio Kulfi Cheesecake (video)
If you enjoyed this recipe
Please do let me know! Leave a review and a rating below, I’d love to know how you got on.
Until then, happy baking!
Baked Pistachio Kulfi Cheesecake
- 8” spring form pan
- Large roasting tray
- 200 g digestive biscuits or graham crackers for US readers
- 50 g roasted unsalted pistachios
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 560 g cream cheese softened
- 410 g evaporated milk equivalent to 1 tin in the UK
- 250 g sweetened pistachio paste/cream
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- Pinch of saffron
- 50 g cornflour or corn starch for US readers
- 4 tbsp sweetened pistachio paste/cream
- 20 g roasted unsalted pistachios ground
- Dried rose petals
For the base:
- Start by blitzing the biscuits in a food processor, or crushing inside a sealed bag with a rolling pin until finely ground. Then transfer to a mixing bowl
- Repeat with the pistachios, but leave them more coarsely ground. Transfer these to the same bowl
- Melt the butter and add it to the biscuit and pistachio mixture. Mix to combine until it resembles wet sand
- Prepare your baking tin by greasing all over, then lining the sides of the tin with baking paper (this will help for a smooth removal later)
- Place the biscuit mixture into the tin and firmly press down into one even layer. Ensure it is well compacted. Next, place the tin into the freezer for 30 minutes
For the cream cheese filling:
- First pre-heat your oven to 150’C fan or 170’C conventional
- Start by toasting the saffron in a pan on the lowest heat for around 1 minute. Keep the saffron moving to prevent burning. Then transfer aside to cool
- Place the cream cheese, pistachio cream, evaporated milk, vanilla, cardamom and salt into a large bowl. Rub the toasted saffron between your fingertips to grind and add this in too
- Whisk until everything is incorporated and completely smooth. Using an electric whisk makes this easier
- Next sieve in the cornflour (corn starch for US readers) and whisk once again until smooth
- Remove the tin from the freezer after the 30 minutes are complete, and wrap the outside tightly in sheets of foil. I recommend using 5 sheets to entirely cover the outside and to securely seal the tin. Ensure the foil goes up to the top edge of the tin
- Pour the cheesecake filling into the tin, then place the tin into a large roasting/oven tray
- Pour boiling water into the larger tray, taking care to ensure no water goes onto the cheesecake. The water should go up half way of the height of the cheesecake tin. Bake on the middle rack for 60-65 minutes
- Once baked remove from the oven but allow the cheesecake tin to remain in the tray of water for 60 minutes
- Then, remove the cheesecake tin as well as the foil and transfer the tin to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely for a further 3-4 hours. Then place in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours or preferably overnight
- Carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin and slide onto your plate/board of choice
- Melt the remaining pistachio cream in the microwave in 10s increments until pourable
- Pour this over the top of the cheesecake and smooth over to cover the entire surface
- Add the remaining ground pistachios as well as the dried rose petals