Monday, September 18, 2006

Easy Peasy No-bake Cheesecake

Firstly, let me explain myself:
I like cheesecakes that are not too sweet, nor too cheesy. For me, the perfect cheesecake has just a tinge of cheesiness to it, with a more creamy flavour. I also prefer the soft and fluffy cheesecake, as opposed to the dense kind. My cheesecake has to have a crunchy crust, instead of a cake base (more often than not, cake based cheesecakes are half-cake and only half cheese, which turns me off). To me, a good cheesecake need not have a topping, but I do not mind them. Toppings on a plain cheesecake do make it look prettier and more delectable.
Thus my preference for no-bake cheesecakes as opposed to baked ones, which are usually dense and cheesy.

I have extensively searched for no-bake cheesecake recipes, and believe me, there are a lot out there. Most often than not, the recipe requires the use of gelatine. I had found one that did not use gelatine, but it employs condensed milk and lots of it, which led to my fear that it might be too sweet. So I braved myself and started experimenting with gelatine and came up with this recipe. I’m sure you will find recipes similar to mine in the tripledoubleyou. Mine is the very basic, and later on I will give suggestions on how to make different types of cheesecakes by varying the ingredients.

Easy Peasy No-Bake Cheesecake

15 pieces McVite’s Digestives cookies
2 or 3 tablespoons of softened butter
250ml whipping cream
200grams Philly cream cheese
3 tablespoons icing sugar*
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
enough gelatine to set 250ml of water, dissolved in 2-3 tablespoons water.

Crust - Put waxed paper (or aluminum foil) at the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan (this makes the removal of the cheesecake easier later on). Finely crush the cookies and mix well with the softened butter till it forms a crumble like consistency (add more butter if necessary). Press into the springform pan, going up the sides for about 1.5 inches. Store in freezer for at least 10 minutes.
Cheese filling – Soften cream cheese to room temperature, dredge with fork to separate (this makes it mix with cream faster). Prepare gelatine**, let cool to room temperature. Whip the cream till soft peaks form. Add in the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla essence and gelatine and whip till thoroughly mixed (You don’t see lumps of cheese anymore). Pour into prepared crust. Chill in your fridge for at least 3 hours, but overnight is best.
Once the cheese is set, you can take it out of the springform pan and put on your preferred topping, if you like.

The result is a light, fluffy, creamy yet not wobbly cheesecake with a buttery, crunchy crust. I had put peaches on mine, but it was good even without any kind of topping.

Suggestions for Variations:
. Instead of Digestives, use any other kind of cookies, like graham crackers or maybe even Cream Crackers ( if you like your crust to be not so sweet and sinful).
. Use cereal, half crushed and half not, as the crust.
. I had made a crust using them chocolate balls cereal plus crushed almonds before and it turned out yummeh..!
. Vary the portion of cream and cheese to get a creamier or cheesier filling. Add more sugar if you like it sweeter.
. Add lemon zest or essence to get that lemony flavour. (me no likey)
. Add cocoa powder + sugar to make a chocolate cheesecake. Add more cocoa for darker chocolate. Fold in chopped chocolates to give it some bite.
. Add pureed fruits (strawberries, raspberries, etc) to make a fruity cheesecake.
. Divide the filling into three, add cocoa in one, add vanilla in the other and add pureed strawberries (or red coloring) in the last. Chill each filling in layers (30 minutes each) and you’d get a neopolitan (sp?) cheesecake!
. Fold in crushed oreos to make oreo cheesecake (adjust amount of sugar accordingly). Use finely crushed oreos as the crust.

The possibilities are endless, and it’s all up to you to make it delicious!

* I used icing sugar because it incorporates into the cream+cheese mixture more easily.
** How to prepare gelatine:
Read the instructions on the packet to determine how much you need to set 250ml water. Mix that amount with 2 or 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl, let sit for a few minutes to soften. Warm a pan of water over medium heat, sit the small bowl of gelatine in it and stir to thoroughly dissolve all the gelatine. Once it is thoroughly dissolved, set aside to cool.

No oven required!! Happy Trying! :D


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