Marko Stewart – Its a piece of cake to no-bake a cheesecake

Photo from Martha Stewart

Let’s be real for a moment- cooking is a pain — or should I say, cooking as a student is a pain. Love it or not, there’s nothing worse then trying to cook up some Pad Thai only to set off your fire alarms, which all happen to be linked together. On top of that, even if your dish does come out well, it’s usually only enough for 1, maybe two meals, which doesn’t sound bad until you have to Clean. Every. Single. Thing. The dishes? Obviously. The stove top that’s covered in oils? Okay I was a little messy. The cupboards? How???

In the interest of avoiding such messiness while still making something delicious, I thought I’d share my cheesecake recipe that has been getting a fair amount of use among my friends. This recipe is perfect for a party, a get-together, or any event you need to bring something to. (Think of it as an alternative to brownies.) On top of being easy and relatively mess free, it’s also very accommodating to dietary restrictions, which is always a nice plus. The ingredients are listed at the bottom of the page.

To start, empty the two packages of cream cheeses into a large bowl (preferably let them warm a bit so they’re not rock hard) and add 6 tablespoons of sugar. Using a hand mixer, mash it around so the sugar is nice and stuck into your cheese before mixing. (This helps to avoid the sugar blowing up in a cloud of disappointment.) Mix it until the cheese is completely smooth. Then, add two teaspoons of vanilla and lemon juice from half of a lemon (or one whole lemon rind, if you so please). Continue mixing until all the ingredients are properly mixed.

Next, pour the whipping cream into a bowl and add two tablespoons of sugar. Mix it until firm peaks develop. If it starts to aggregate and gets softer, you went too far; quickly stop, and it will still be usable. Incorporate the whipped cream into the cream cheese slowly in increments of heaping tablespoons. Fold the mixture onto itself until the cream is fully mixed and add the next increment of cream. Repeat. Two important notes: First, do NOT use a circular stirring motion. This will destroy the airiness of the cream and make your fill very dense. Second, if the fill is not sweet enough, feel free to add more sugar. 8 tablespoons is on the less sweet side.

Next comes the assembly. In a rectangular pan (15×10 inches?) Create a bottom crust by VERY quickly splashing graham (gra-ham) crackers in milk. Personally, I find Nabisco works best for this in staying firm and not melting apart immediately, but any will do. Lay them down on the bottom of the pan until they are form a uniform surface. Use half the fill to cover this layer, and smooth it over to flatness. Repeat the graham layer procedure and create a second layer on top of this fill. Add the rest of the fill, smooth to flatness, and cover the top with cherry pie filling. Chill until ready to serve, and dig in!!

This recipe in general is very versatile, as the fill is well suited to multiple flavors. If you would rather have a more New York-style cheese cake, simply make a graham crust by mashing graham crackers together with butter and packing the bottom of a spring form pan with them, chilling for an hour, and then add the fill. Some other twists on this include using chocolate grahams, covering the cake in chocolate, or adding fruit to the top in a decorative pattern.

As with all cooking, the sky is the limit with this recipe. Many twists can be made to great effect. If you make this cake, contact me and let me know how it went!

Marko Stewart’s Simple Cheese Cake

2 Cream cheese

1 Pint heavy whipping cream

8 Tablespoons of confectioners sugar (Ideally. Granular works too)

1/2 Lemon juice or 1 Whole lemon rind

2 Tbsp Vanilla

1 Box of Graham crackers (note- I find Nabisco works best, but all will do)

1 Can Cherry pie filling