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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Easy No-Bake Cheesecake

Please, for a moment, forget that this recipe sounds like it came straight off the back of a graham cracker box. Admittedly, "Easy No-Bake Cheesecake" bears some resemblance to back issues of Better Homes and Gardens, contains 3 different kinds of diary products and a jarful of marshmallow fluff. This holiday cheesecake, however, was not parked in between the Santa Hat Jello Jigglers and 7-Layer Dip. I was on the East Coast this Christmas, and had to measure up. This would-be fruit dip put on its dancing shoes and made a really lovely holiday dessert.

Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks continues to inspire, and posted her recipe for sparkling cranberries just as I was deciding what to bring to K.'s parent's house for the holidays.  The first batch of berries looked as if they had been rolled through old snow, but the second batch was much improved thanks to K's willingness to help me bounce each individual berry off a cookie sheet. It was worth the weird looks and the late departure to New Jersey, as giving them a hefty thud caused the excess sugar to fall off, allowing the light to catch the light and twinkle properly.

The Christmas loot was particularly good this year, and I got LOTS of food and cooking related presents. Before my office cleared out for the holidays, my colleague graced my desk with a small ribboned jar of homemade dulce de leche. This was not slip-shod affair, this was the real deal, made from fresh, whole milk from a local CSA. The jar barely made it one day in my fridge before half of it went into a cheesecake [the other half into my mouth]. This was quality stuff, and the end product had a pronounced caramel flavor despite the generous layer of ganache on top. 

The genius of this recipe is that you can make a large batch of the base, divide into smaller cake-sized portions and flavor as you like. This would make it ideal for cheesecake cupcakes, of which I am already dreaming about. 

Other flavor ideas include: 
  • Pecan-bourbon [this is probably going to be for New Years Day]
  • Coconut-Pineapple 
  • Meyer lemon [sub sugar cookies for the graham crackers, oh my!] 
  • Apple Cinnamon with crumb topping 
  • Coffee 
cheesecake crust

Crush 1 package of graham crackers and mix with enough butter to coat. Press into pan and bake for 10 minutes at 350. 

cheesecake base 

1 block Cream Cheese
2 cups heavy cream, whipped [ends up being 2-3 cups]
1/2 jar marshmallow fluff 
1 package gelatin [mix into about 1/4 c. cream and let stand 2 minutes, then heat cream in microwave for a few to dissolve. Allow a few minutes to cool.]

Cream ingredients together using mixer or brute force. Add in flavorings and pour into cheesecake crusts. Cool overnight in the fridge. 

cranberry cheesecake 

Mix in half a can of whole berry cranberry sauce into the cheesecake base. For the cranberry topping, soak them for a couple of hours in a simple syrup, drain and coat in sugar. Allow to dry on cookie sheet, and coat again in sugar, if possible, a bit of a smaller grain. Top cheesecake. 

dulce de leche cheesecake 

Stir in 1 cup Dulce De Leche [find out how to make your own from David Lebowitz] into the cheesecake base. Top with a chocolate ganache by heating 2 cups heavy cream with 2 tbsp butter, and, once its just boiling, pouring the hot mixture over 8oz quality chopped chocolate. Wisk rapidly to melt the chocolate. Make sure to let the ganache cool before pouring it over the cake so it doesn't melt! 


Linda Starr said...

Found your blog re your post about Freekeh and have been looking for it and can't find it anywhere. Heard about it on Dr. Oz, tried Trader Joes in bakersfield, Ca and no luck, hopefully I'll run into it one of these days.

Had to skip by the delicious cheese cake recipes need to loose some weight.

Wild Thyme Kitchen said...

Hi Linda,

Check to see if there is a Middle Eastern grocery in your area. They will surely have it!

Also, if you like, I can check to see if my fathers store can ship it too you. might be able to sub a lighter cream cheese like neufchatel, add a little sugar/honey and some vanilla soymilk or nonfat yogurt and blend? Something to try! This is a very forgiving recipe.