Deliciously kitsch and made for people who can’t be bothered with baking, my easy South African strawberry fridge cheesecake is as decadent as it’s simple to prepare. I’ll be the first to say this, but I’m no fan of sweet recipes – while I’ll occasionally pull together a pavlova or try at my hand at an ice cream sundae, I’m immensely intimidated by the act of measuring flour, sugar and eggs to create a cake. When I do brave a bake, my creations tend to resemble the results of a potjie – that is, very tasty but not much to look at.

A glut of springtime strawberries threw my lack of skill when it comes to the sweet stuff into sharp relief – a dessert was surely needed, but what? Thank goodness my partner isn’t too posh with his cravings and so a proper South African strawberry fridge cheesecake was requested. This is the stuff of childhood braais – a comforting treat as South African as malva pudding or marshmallow fish. A base of crushed biscuits – usually Tennis or ginger, sometimes Romany Creams if you were being extra fancy – topped with layers of saccharinely sweet creamy filling made up of condensed milk, cream, jelly powder or gelatine and cream cheese. Fruit (usually tinned) would provide a suitable topping and the dessert would be haphazardly dished up into pudding bowls – providing a sugary plop of retro decadence. The iconic peppermint crisp tart follows this vein, as does myriad other desserts taking pride of place at South African events – from birthdays to barbecues to church bazaars.

My version of the fridge cheesecake is for lazy folks like myself who want to feel as if effort has been made sans the actual effort. More of a pudding than a traditional moulded cheesecake, this is great as a speedy dessert for a dinner party or festive season soirée. I haven’t added gelatine or jelly as I want the flavour and tang of cheesecake with a silky smooth pudding consistency. By serving the cheesecake in individual bowls, you’ll have a beautifully presented and rather elegant dessert option – a win-win in my opinion! Feel free to switch out the strawberries for other fruit like peaches, blueberries, raspberries or gooseberries.

Easy South African Strawberry Fridge Cheesecake

Prep time: 20 mins /Cook time: 15 mins plus 8 hours chilling /Serves: 4-6

You will need:

  • 1x 200g pack of Tennis biscuits
  • 100g salted butter, melted
  • 1x 250g tub of full fat cream cheese
  • 1x 385g tin of condensed milk
  • 2ml lemon juice
  • 250ml of cream

For the strawberry sauce:

  • 500g strawberries, washed, trimmed and halved

For the topping:

  • 200g strawberries, washed

Put the Tennis biscuits into a food processor or plastic bag. Blitz/bash with a rolling pin until finely crumbled. Place the biscuit crumbs into a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Stir to combine and divide between 4-6 small dessert bowls. Refrigerate the bowls until needed.

Place the halved strawberries into a heavy bottomed pan over low heat. Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are soft. Use the back of the wooden spoon to roughly break/squash the strawberries to create a textured sauce. Leave to cool until needed.

Add the cream cheese to a large bowl and stir to soften. Pour in the condensed milk and use an electric beater to combine. Squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice. Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold into the condensed milk mixture. Spoon a bit of the strawberry sauce into each bowl, covering the biscuit base in a light layer. Pour over the cheesecake mixture to 3/4 full and refrigerate for the next 8 hours or overnight. Once set, decorate the top of each cheesecake with slices of strawberry or whole berries.

Serve the strawberry fridge cheesecakes as dessert or a teatime treat – although with glasses of chilled MCC instead of tea.

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