Friday, March 23, 2012

No-bake Cheesecake with Strawberry Coulis and Chocolate Ganache-covered Strawberries.

I believe in hard work.

I do! If a certain something is too easy or inexpensive to attain, there has to be an obvious catch. I deviate towards elaborate recipes; the ones that call for refrigerating cookie dough for 2 days, roasting tomatoes for 2 hours and boiling cans of condensed milk for an eternity and a half.

I'm wired to believe that anything made the old-fashioned way is better. For example. Brewing homemade stock, shelling prawn, steeping porcini mushrooms in hot water, shaving Parmesan cheese and asparagus, zesting lime: all this and an hour's worth of intensive stirring and tasting to make an Entree-sized portion of Risotto.

At the end of this labour-intensive exercise, if somebody dares complain along the lines of "this was what all that noise and dirty dishes were about?", I would throw the mother of all hissy fits. And then some.

So when it comes to cheesecake, I'd believe the demanding-neonate-like recipe. The one that the asks for a waterbath, hours of cooling down with the oven switched off, then chilling in the refrigerator overnight, health insurance and pension. Only 5% of the above sentence is grossly exaggerated.

And then there's the no-bake cheesecake. With just a handful of ingredients (albeit pricey-pricey ones at that). No Masterchef skills, no hours of babying. Which, I've been told, tastes better than the baked version.

Don't let this put you off from trying the baked version (recipe coming soon)! I love my Creme Caramel to be dense (hello! Flan exists for a reason) and almost overcooked, so I prefer the heavier baked cheesecake. But more than half my testers loved the creamy, fluffy no-bake cheesecake, with the strawberry coulis, digestive biscuits and ganache-covered strawberries.

And even though Cheesecake has New York stamped all over it, this  dish is more British to me. Don't run away now, there's no lard-filled pastry crust or eggy lemon curds involved.

I know Philadelphia cream cheese belongs to Kraft, as does Toblerone. But Toblerone was originally made only in Switzerland and England. It's one of those things people coming back from London bring in their suitcases (along with McVities' Dark Chocolate Digestives, KitKats and Cadbury's Milk Tray/Quality Street chocolates. And a truckload of Tesco/M &S products, depending on their budget).

Enid Blyton has instilled the belief of strawberries being quintessentially British, in me. McVities is also spelt B-R-I-T-I-S-H. So I'll let Kraft and Nabisco do their mergers and buyouts and takeovers. And live in my strawberry-flavoured bubble. Big believer in blissful oblivion.

No-Bake Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping:


For the base:

3/4 cup Digestive biscuit crumbs (can use Graham crackers)
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter

For the cheesecake:

180 g Cream Cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used Amul)
1/2 cup condensed milk or 1 cup sifted/powdered sugar*
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla

*Since I used only 25% fat cream, I used the condensed milk for a richer cheesecake.

For the strawberry topping

1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
2 teaspoons sugar (alter according to sweetness/tartness of strawberries)
1 teaspoon lemon juice/balsamic vinegar

For the ganache-covered strawberries:

10 large strawberries
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
1 tsp unsalted butter


For the base:

Bash/Pulverise the Digestive biscuits until you have fine, beach sand-like crumbs.

Add in the melted butter and powdered sugar.

Fill 5 cups (quantity around 200 ml) with the base mix. Press them well with your fingertips so you have a compressed base.

Chill these in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Make sure they are covered with either cling film/foil/random lids.

I go for up to 5 cm depth with the crust.

For the cheesecake:

Bring the cream cheese to room temperature before using.

In a chilled, clean bowl, whip the heavy cream until you get soft peaks. I chill the beaters, bowl and cream in the freezer for about 10 minutes before I do the whipping.

 If you're using the icing/castor sugar, add in around 1/2 cup of the icing sugar and whip until combined. Do not overwhip. Keep this in the refrigerator until needed.

In a mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese on Medium for about 2 minutes until you get a fluffy texture. Add in the lemon juice and vanilla essence and beat for 30 seconds.

Add in the condensed milk and whip until combined. If you're using icing sugar, add the remaining half-cup and beat it in until combined. Fold in the whipped cream.

Taste the mix to see if it needs more icing sugar/condensed milk. If you've run out of condensed milk, you can add in powdered/sifted sugar and the cheesecake will be fine.

Divide the mix into the prepared chilled bases. Smooth the tops, cover with cling film and stow it away into the refrigerator for another couple of hours until firm.

For the strawberry coulis:

In a saucepan, add the strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar and bring it over medium heat.

Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes until thickened. You can squish down a couple of strawberries and leave the others whole.

Take it off the heat and let it cool in the refrigerator until needed.

For the ganache:

Bring the 1/4 cup of cream to a simmer. Pour it over the chopped chocolate chunks.

 Add in the butter into the hot mix. Whisk with the fork until well combined. Make sure that neither the fork nor the bowl has any grease/water in it. Let the ganache cool down to room temperature.

Dip the whole strawberries in it. Lay them out on baking/foil paper. Refrigerate until set. You can also just cover these with melted chocolate, but I made ganache as I had 1/4 cup of cream left over from the Amul packet that I used.

Assembling the cheesecake:

Pour the coulis over the chilled cheesecake.

Serve with the ganache covered strawberries.

That's the cheesecake, all creamy and fresh out of the refrigerator. You can clearly see that I haven't smoothed the peaks down. I'm a free-form girl, I am.

This is easily one of the best desserts you can whip up in minutes. It amounts to about 50 bucks per serving, but any half-decent place with plasticky cheesecake would charge four times as much. Make it.

And I'm thinking that the photo above has to be rated at least PG-13. Sort of Dexter meets Valentine's Day. Colour me happy, happy Red!

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