When the heat of summertime hits, there’s no better dessert than a no-bake cheesecake. Ice cream melts quickly in the sun, and pretty much everything else requires you to turn on the oven. Who wouldn’t want a no-bake dessert with a cheesecake filling that does not need to be cooked in the oven and is still smooth and creamy with a rich flavour? No-bake cheesecake does not contain eggs or thickeners, so it doesn’t need to be baked. This also eliminates the problems of over-baking and cracking that can occur with baked cheesecakes.
There are plenty of other reasons to love no-bake cheesecake and to make it year-round. It’s a crowd-pleasing dessert that is easily portable, and when you include garnishes, whipped cream, and more, it’s a perfect presentation piece ready for the centre of the table. Cream cheese takes a central role in no-bake cheesecake and sometimes sweetened condensed milk is added for stability. It’s a surprisingly easy-to-make dessert, so you might find yourself experimenting again and again, regardless of the season. Here are some tried-and-true tips and tricks to achieve winning variations every time.
Expert tips for your no-bake cheesecake
Choose the right cheese for your no-bake cheesecake
Because cream cheese is so luscious and, well, creamy, a classic American cheesecake isn’t quite the same without it. But in addition to cream cheese, other soft cheeses like ricotta or goat cheese add that signature tang and pair particularly well with fruit flavours and toppings, like in our No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake. When you use them, be sure to allow them to come to room temperature to soften, and incorporate them well so you don’t come across any surprising lumps when you’re enjoying a slice.
When it comes to cream cheese, know that not all brands include the necessary fat content and stabilisers that make a no-bake cheesecake successful. For that reason, we recommend full-fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese for the best results.
Get creative with the crust
Graham crackers are so ubiquitous in a cheesecake crust that perhaps their only bigger claim to fame is in the architecture of a s’more. With their nutty and complex flavour, graham crackers provide a nice foil to the creamy cheesecake filling—but don’t think you have to use graham crackers for your crust. Feel free to experiment with any cookie or cracker that strikes your fancy.
Chocolate wafer cookies, for example, lend a bit of bitterness and rich cocoa flavour that pairs well with ingredients like raspberry, strawberry, and even peanut butter. We love them in our No-Bake Chocolate Crust Cheesecake. Just be sure to crush chocolate wafers or any cookie finely in a food processor or with a rolling pin and resealable bag, that way you won’t have any chunks of cookie getting in the way of slicing a perfectly triangular (or square) portion of cheesecake.
Use different pans
Many baked cheesecake recipes call for springform pans, which are made of two pieces: a base and a side piece. The side piece contracts or expands thanks to a latch mechanism, proving useful for delicate or dense cakes (like a cheesecake!) that are trickier to unmold. While springform pans may be useful, they are by no means essential for no-bake cheesecake. Not using the oven means that your options for presentation are not limited to what is oven-safe. Use clear or coloured glassware to make individual mini cheesecakes, that you can easily set on a tray in the fridge. Or show off your favourite hand-painted baking dish when you make this large-format blueberry no-bake variation.
No-bake cheesecake is easy to make but it does take time. Not so much for making the crust and the filling, but the waiting. You need to be patient and allow enough time for the cheesecake filling to set in the refrigerator. If you rush it, you risk cutting into a cake that is still liquid in the centre.
Many of our no-bake cheesecake recipes highlights sweetened condensed milk (like this No-Bake Key-Lime Cheesecake), or whipped cream as additions that help the setting process along. Incorporating these ingredients means a shorter setting time, but you should still plan to make your cheesecake at least four hours ahead, keeping in mind that the longer it sits, the better it gets. Other recipes, by contrast, use small amounts of gelatin to achieve the same set effect. Gelatin, however, benefits from a longer setting time, usually at least 12 hours or overnight. The advantage of using gelatin is that if it’s incorporated properly and used in the right amount, it’s consistently reliable and will help your cheesecake set regardless of what cheeses you use.
Cut clean slices (Here’s our pro tip)
When it’s time to serve, a clean slice of cheesecake is as satisfying as it is beautiful. Start with a sharp chef’s knife that’s large enough to support each slice of cheesecake en route to its plate. Have a large glass or plastic quart container of very hot water and a clean dish towel nearby. Before each slice, including the first one, dip your knife into the hot water and allow the blade to heat up for a few seconds. Dry it quickly (and well!) with your towel, and make a confident slice. Practice makes perfect, so use the goal of mastering your slicing technique as an excuse to keep making no-bake cheesecakes all year round.
This story first appeared on www.marthastewart.com
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