I’m the ‘dessert person,’ which means friends and family always ask me to bring dessert to potlucks, dinner parties, or birthday celebrations. Nine months out of the year that’s fine, but once June rolls around I don’t want to go anywhere near the oven. During the summer I won’t mess around with yeasted doughs, intricate layer cakes, or make anything that requires me to keep butter cold, like biscuits or pie dough.
Sure, it’s possible to work around the heat (store-bought dough is a great shortcut for foolproof summer pies), but that still doesn't mean I want to turn on my oven. Instead, I turn to my recipe for Any-Berry No-Bake Cheesecake. Not only is the recipe super simple, but once you master the formula, you can turn it into two other variations with a few easy swaps.
How To Make A No-Bake Cheesecake
Unlike a traditional cheesecake that bakes in a water bath until set, this cheesecake recipe comes together after a quick trip to the fridge. Not even the crust is baked! Just like a regular graham cracker crust, this recipe uses melted butter to hold it together, but instead of using heat, we set the crust in the freezer. The butter re-solidifies when cold, which helps everything hold together without baking. The key to the crust is to ensure you coat the crumbs evenly in the melted butter, so that you don’t get any dry pockets that undermine its structural integrity.
As for the filling, all you need to do is beat everything together. The best part? This cheesecake will never crack unlike a traditional baked one, which so easily can. The only potential pitfall to be mindful of is a lumpy filling. Make sure your cream cheese really is at room temperature! If you try to use cold cream cheese, the filling can contain unpleasant chunks of unincorporated cream cheese throughout.
We call for ¾ cup of powdered sugar, but give you the option to add ¼ cup more. For a tangier cheesecake, skip the additional sugar, otherwise fold in a little extra if you like your desserts on the sweeter side.
As for the topping, this is where any fresh berries you have laying around from the farmers' market get to shine. You can stick to just your favorite berry or use a pretty assortment. And for an extra fancy touch, grab edible flowers while at the market. Although optional, they really make this simple dessert feel so much more impressive.
Mix It Up
If you want to veer less classic, you can use the same no-bake recipe to produce two other variations.
For our chocolate-cherry variation, chocolate wafer cookies work just as well as graham crackers as a cheesecake base. The chocolate crust paired with cherry preserves swirled into the filling gives this cheesecake a black forest cake-like flavor. You can even add a splash of kirsch to the filling to mimic the famous cake. The cheesecake is also garnished with fresh summer cherries, which pardon the pun, really is the cherry on top.
Another option is to make our peach-ginger cheesecake, which uses fresh, juicy peaches and a gingersnap crust to create a spiced twist on a classic cheesecake. Chopped candied ginger as a garnish adds a little sparkle and a bit more ginger flavor, but you can easily leave it off, if you prefer. You could just as easily garnish with additional crushed gingersnap crumbs, too.
The options don’t end there. You can easily customize this recipe with your favorite flavors. Consider the cookies you like to eat, and turn them into a crust, from animal crackers to Oreos. In terms of fillings, swap cherry preserves for other fruit jams, or swirl in other spreads like Nutella instead.
When it comes to toppings, choose from any of your favorite fruits, like mangos, plums, or fresh figs. You can also add a drizzle to the cheesecake, whether chocolate, caramel, or a bit of honey. And for added texture consider adding toasted nuts or a streusel as a garnish.
This article was written by Alana Al-Hatlani from Southern Living and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.