No bake cheesecake

As I said early on in this blog’s tenure, I enjoy baking for birthdays because it pushes me outside of my typical “I like to bake things involving chocolate” comfort zone.  One of my lovely friends in Sydney whose birthday I sadly missed requested a very specific type of cheesecake: a traditional Continental one but non-baked.  My flatmates are pretty into making cheesecakes so I’ve seen it done, but they always bake them, and since I am not too big a fan of cheesecake (unless it’s chocolate or has a very chocolate-y crust or chocolate toppings…you get the idea), I have never made one before.  So, I eagerly commenced research as I love trying to bake (or in this case, non-bake) new things.  I was finally able to find a recipe from an Australian cookbook that complied with the no-bake, no-chocolate guidelines.

Continental no-bake cheesecake

Ingredients (serves 10-12)

250 g sweet biscuits (if you are in America you can just use graham cracker crumbs)

125 g (a bit more than 1 stick) butter, melted

375 g cream cheese, softened

Zest of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 400g tin condensed milk

Instructions

Put the biscuits / graham crackers in a blender or food processor and pulse until they are finely crushed.  Don’t try to do this by hand, as I did.  You just will not be able to get them small enough.  If you don’t have a blender at all though, just put the biscuits in a plastic bag and smash them with a hammer (lightly) or roll over them with a rolling pin (more realistic).  Put the crushed biscuits in a mixing bowl and pour in the melted butter.  Mix well until totally combined and then press half of the mixture into a greased (and lined with parchment paper if possible) 20 cm / 9-10 in springform pan.  If you don’t have a springform pan you can just use a typical cake tin, but the springform pan does make presentation and removal at the end a lot easier.  Then press the other half of the biscuit mixture around the sides of the pan using a spoon.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the softened cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy.  Add all the lemon zest (this gives it a lovely citrus-y flavour) and vanilla extract and beat well.  Gradually add the condensed milk and lemon juice, alternating one and then the other and continue to beat well until the mixture becomes smooth.  Then pour it into the prepared tin with the crust and smooth it out.  Refrigerate it overnight.  If you want, before serving, you can garnish with berries.  I would not recommend sprinkling anything on top of the cheesecake (like sprinkles) and then letting it sit in the fridge because they will weirdly melt into the cheesecake and it will taste fine, but look odd (oops).

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Mixing the melted butter in with the crushed biscuits

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The filling mixture in process

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Finished crust after setting in the fridge

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Smoothing the filling into the crust

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Final product – looks cute and festive with the sprinkles now, but still, do not attempt as they will melt and look weird

I couldn’t believe how easy this was to make and for a non cheesecake person, I actually thought it tasted quite good.  The lemon juice and lemon zest is key as it adds a nice citrus twist to it that’s not overpowering but still quite present.  This is a great dessert for anyone who doesn’t really like chocolate or sweet desserts that much.  Or, if you are scared of ovens, this is a really easy one to try!

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