Cheesecake is great. Cheesecake that sets without you needing to use the oven is, frankly, fantastic. This no-bake cheesecake is built in a slab style, which takes away some of the drama of the tall, circular variety, and replaces it with a welcoming, casual vibe. A wide, square baking dish makes spreading the thick, fluffy filling easy to do, and it’s even easier to portion out servings later. With just a few components, you can have this tangy, rich, chiffon-style cheesecake, without ever fussing with the oven.
This slab cheesecake is instantly approachable for both chef and eater. It only takes the combination of a few simple components, and a few hours in the fridge, before it’s ready to serve. The texture is luxuriously light and fluffy, thanks to the whipped cream that aerates the base, completely transforming the usual heaviness of cheesecake into something half as dense and twice as gastronomically breathtaking. Although the consistency is feather-light, all of the classic flavours–tangy rich dairy, caramelly graham cracker crumbs, with the notion of a vanilla blessing–are still front and centre. It’s inevitable: This is your new favourite cheesecake.
Lightly butter a 9- by 9-inch, or similarly sized, baking dish. It’s not going in the oven, so you can break out the fancy one you never get to use. Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter, and press it down into the dish to compact it, forming a crust. Set this aside in the fridge while you prepare the filling. In a large bowl, prepare the cream cheese base by whisking the sugar, salt, lemon juice, and hot, melted butter together. Warm the cream cheese in the microwave until it’s melty and smooth (here’s more about the secret to a smooth cheesecake). Add this to the sugar mixture. Whisk until it’s completely incorporated. Set aside.
Whip the cream and second addition of sugar together in a large bowl to make the whipped cream. Gently stir in the vanilla extract at the end. Fold the vanilla whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture in three additions. The mixture will be light, and gloriously fluffy. Pour the cheesecake filling into the baking dish and, using a spoon or spatula, spread the mixture evenly over the crust. Cover it well and rest the cheesecake in the fridge for four hours or overnight.
For sharp edges, slice the cheesecake with a hot knife and rinse it off between slices — but that’s decidedly not casual. So I say, if it’s an informal cheesecake, keep it chill with a regular square-edge dessert spatula, or drop in a giant dessert spoon and let chaos reign. This weightless cheesecake will keep, covered, in the fridge, for up to five days.
No-bake Chiffon Cheesecake
- 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Cream Cheese Base
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, freshly melted
- 450 g cream cheese, microwaved until soft and melty
- 280 g heavy cream
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Thoroughly mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Press this into the bottom of an 8-inch or 9-inch square casserole dish or baking pan, and set it in the fridge to set while you prepare the filling.
Mix the sugar, lemon juice, salt, and melted butter together thoroughly to dissolve the sugar. Whisk in the melted cream cheese until combined. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, using a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and second instalment of sugar until you’ve reached stiff peaks. (This only takes a few minutes, so keep your eye on the mixer.) Gently stir in the vanilla extract at the end.
Gently fold the vanilla whipped cream into the cream cheese base, in three additions. The mixture should be much lighter and have some fluffiness to it. Take the dish out of the fridge and spread the cheesecake filling evenly over the crust. Cover the dish and chill for four hours or overnight.
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