You can make cheesecakes without turning on your oven—which is especially nice in the summer. They are delightful cheesecakes. They are lighter and fluffier, almost melt-in-your-mouth. Because they don't bake, they are quicker and easier to make.
In our test kitchen, we have experimented extensively with cheesecakes. We've written articles and an e-book. We've taught classes. But it took us a long time to discover how to make no-bake cheesecakes that we really enjoyed.
Cheesecakes are made in a crumb crust, most of which don't need to be baked. It's the filling that needs to be baked. It's really a custard that relies on the coagulation of the eggs to set the filling. Some commercial no-bake cheesecakes rely on gelatin to set the filling. We've never been fond of gelatin cheesecakes.
We think you'll like fillings made with cream cheese and pudding or pastry filling much more than fillings made with gelatin. But it's important to get the ratio right. You want a filling that has enough cream cheese to make the filling firm enough to cut nicely but with enough pudding or pastry filling to make a light and smooth cheesecake filling after they are beat together. Two cups of filling and one pound of cream cheese is just right for a nine-inch cheesecake.
Our favorite filling ingredient is Bavarian cream. You can buy premade Bavarian cream or make your own.
What follows is our model recipe with variations. You can make your own variations or leave off the topping for a vanilla cheesecake.
Strawberry Cream No-Bake Cheesecake (with Variations)
This is a delightful dessert. It's a refrigerated dessert made in a graham cracker crust. The filling is lighter and smoother than a baked cheesecake. Top it with fresh strawberries and a strawberry sauce.
For the crust:
1 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
In a nine-inch springform pan, mix the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar together. Press the mixture across the bottom of the pan and up the sides to form the crust. Put the crust in the refrigerator to set the butter while you mix the filling.
For the filling:
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups Bavarian Cream (see substitutes)
1 teaspoon strawberry flavor
In your stand-type mixer and with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until it is soft and smooth. Add the Bavarian Cream and flavor and continue beating, scraping down the sides once, until smooth.
For the topping:
12-ounce package of frozen strawberries (see substitutes)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar or to taste
3 tablespoons Instant Clearjel (see substitutes)
fresh strawberries to garnish
Defrost and mash the strawberries. Add the water. Mix the sugar and the Instant Clearjel together in a cup. Add the sugar mixture to the strawberries and stir until the sauce thickens.
To assemble, spread the filling into the crust and smooth with a spatula. Add the strawberry sauce over the top. Add sliced strawberries on top of the sauce. Refrigerate. Peel the ring off the dessert when you are ready to serve.
You will have more sauce than what you need. That's okay. Save it for an ice cream or dessert topping or put it on your pancakes. Leftover sauce can be frozen.
You may substitute cornstarch for the Instant Clearjel. If you do so, you will need to cook the sauce to thicken it. Cornstarch requires cooking to thicken; Instant Clearjel thickens without cooking. (Original Clearjel thickens when cooked.)
You may substitute vanilla pudding for the Bavarian Cream.
You may use fresh strawberries instead of frozen.
Raspberry Cream No-Bake Cheesecake
Make as per the strawberry cream recipe. Use raspberry flavor and raspberries instead of strawberry flavor and strawberries. Press the mashed raspberries through a sieve to remove the seeds.
Blueberry Lemon No-Bake Cheesecake (with Variations)
Make as per the strawberry cream recipe. Use lemon flavor and a teaspoon of lemon zest in the filling.
Use fresh or frozen blueberries instead of the strawberries. Garnish with whipped cream.
Chocolate Cream No-Bake Cheesecake (with Variations)
You can leave off the topping though both strawberry and raspberry topping goes great with chocolate cream.
Melt 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate wafers or quality dark chocolate chips. Drizzle the hot chocolate into the filling while the paddle is turning. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Garnish with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.
Homemade Bavarian Cream
1 packet unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (second measure)
1. Pour the milk or cream into a small bowl and then sprinkle the gelatin on top. Set aside.
2. Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together.
3. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat until it just starts to simmer. Do not boil. Remove from the heat.
4. To temper the eggs, slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Once the eggs and hot milk mixture is combined, cook the mixture in a double boiler or over simmering water, stirring, until it starts to thicken and simmer. Add the vanilla. Place the bowl in an ice bath and stir until the mixture cools to room temperature.
5. Whip the second measure of whipped cream. Fold in the whipped cream. Refrigerate until you are ready to use the Bavarian Cream.
Dennis is the president of The Prepared Pantry. He is a well-known author who writes articles, recipes, and books. The Prepared Pantry is a kitchen store with springform pans including his favorite Candy Apple Red Silicone pan, plus baking mixes, and ingredients including Clearjel and Bavarian Cream. For more information, get the free e-book, "A Manual for No-Bake Cheesecakes."
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