It’s impossible to say no to cheesecake – so here are three recipes to try.
With its buttery biscuit base and rich, velvety topping, cheesecake never fails to catch our attention in the chilled section of the supermarket, or impress our guests at a dinner party (remember them?).
Break down the layers though, and the dessert itself it actually a cinch to make – at its simplest requiring nothing but crumbly biscuits, sugar and cream cheese. And seeing as we’re all looking to maximise our time in the garden now that summer is finally upon us, it couldn’t be a better choice to satisfy your sweet tooth.
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Whether you prefer a classic New York cheesecake or fancy a twist on the traditional, we’ve got three delicious cheesecakes recipes for you to make at home. If you’ve time on your hands for a leisurely bake, try Elisabeth Prueitt’s creamy vanilla cheesecake created with oat digestive biscuits, cream cheese and crème fraîche, or Adam Handling’s steamed cheesecake recipe made with white chocolate chip cookies.
If the idea of a quick no-bake cheesecake appeals, however, then try Joe Moruzzi and Brendon Parry’s strawberry cheesecake topped with mixed berry compote. The entrepreneurs behind Pleesecakes’ recipe will let you bypass the oven and skip straight to dessert.
Baked or chilled, a slice of this simple, creamy cake can’t be beaten. Tuck in!
Joe Moruzzi and Brendon Parry’s strawberry cheesecake recipe
Joe and Brendon say: “This was one of the first ever cheesecakes we made, even before Pleesecakes was formed. It’s been around for the entirety of Pleesecakes and sits proudly in our classics section. Being such a showstopper, it’s a regular request for wedding cakes! We’ve kept it very simple and it can easily be adapted to flavours or ingredients that you prefer or think would work better.”
23cm (9 inch) deep springform cake tin
For the base:
- 440g plain digestive biscuits
- 50g unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 920g cream cheese
- 125g caster sugar
- 100g strawberries
- 300ml double cream
For the edge:
- 190g strawberries
For the topping:
- 300g mixed berry compote
- 100g strawberries
- 100g blueberries
- 100g raspberries
- 75g blackberries
Blitz the digestive biscuits to a fine crumb in a food processor (alternatively, put them in a sandwich bag and crush with a rolling pin if you haven’t got a processor).
Add the melted butter and stir to make sure that all the biscuit is nicely coated. Pour into the cake tin and press down gently and evenly to make your base. Level off around the edge with the back of a spoon and place in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up.
To make the filling, beat the cream cheese and 100g sugar together. Blitz the strawberries in a food processor with the remaining sugar to a purée. Then, add the strawberry purée to the cream cheese and mix together thoroughly. Whip the cream until you have stiff peaks and fold it gently into the mix. Put to one side.
For the strawberry edge, cut the green ends off the strawberries and slice in half lengthways. Take the cake tin and arrange the strawberries around the edge (with the flat inside edge of the strawberry facing outwards).
Spoon in the cheese mixture, starting gently around the edge with small spoonfuls, making sure you don’t dislodge the strawberries, and working your way into the middle.
Level off with a palette knife and then run your forefinger and thumb around the rim of the tin to create a professional finish. Tap the tin gently on a hard surface to remove any air bubbles. Place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.
Once set, remove from the freezer and take it out of the cake tin. Top first with the mixed berry compote, then the fresh fruit. The cheesecake will be ready to serve straight away.
From Pleesecakes: 60 Awesome No-Bake Cheesecake Recipes by Joe Moruzzi and Brendon Parry (£15, Quadrille), out now
Adam Handling’s steamed white chocolate cheesecake recipe
Prep time: 13 hours
For the base:
- 9 white chocolate chip cookies
- 100g unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake filling:
- 680g cream cheese
- 180g caster sugar
- 20g cornflour
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 100ml semi-skimmed milk
- 3 gelatine sheets, soaked
For the base, blend the cookies together (if you don’t have a mixer, put them in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin). Mix half of the cookies with the butter and keep the remaining half for decorating the cheesecake. Leave the cookies and melted butter to sit for 10 minutes, or until cooled.
For the cheesecake, mix the cream cheese and sugar together with the cornflour and the egg. Add the vanilla paste. Beat it with a paddle, on a low speed, until well blended.
Pour the milk into a saucepan and warm slightly on a low heat. Add the gelatine to the milk and stir until completely dissolved. Slowly pour the milk into the mixer and keep beating until shiny. Pour the cheesecake mixture into a freezer bag and seal, ensuring there are no air bubbles.
Place the bag in a steamer above a saucepan of boiling water, with the seal facing up. Steam for 35 minutes (if you have a steamer with a correct timer, steam it for 2 hours at 90°C). Drop the heat and leave it to cook for 20 more minutes, until it has puffed up and the colour turns yellow.
Open the bag and pour the cheese mixture into a bowl. It should resemble cottage cheese. Beat it again, with a paddle, for 5 minutes or until it cools down and becomes smooth and silky. Add the remaining crushed cookies.
Oil the cake tin and place a circle of greaseproof paper at the bottom - this will make it easier to take the base off, once set. Pour the base into the cake tin and use a spatula to distribute it evenly. Leave to set in the fridge for 10 minutes. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the cake tin and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours.
For serving, use a knife dipped in hot water to separate the cheesecake from the cake tin. Remove the cake from the tin. Peel the greaseproof paper from the bottom of the cake. Place it on a plate and decorate with the remaining crushed cookies.
Find more home cooking recipes from Adam Handling here
Elisabeth Prueitt’s creamy cheesecake recipe
Yields one 9 or 10 inch (23 or 25cm) cake, or 12-14 servings
For the digestive biscuit crust:
- 150g oat digestive biscuits
- 60g unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tbsp + 1 ½ tsp granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
For the cheesecake filling:
- 900g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 250g granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 320g crème fraîche
For the topping:
- 360g crème fraîche
- 3 tbsp confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare a 9 or 10 in springform pan by gently wrapping three layers of heavy-duty aluminium foil securely around the outside of the pan, making sure to press the foil against the side of the pan and gently crimping the top around the rim. Check that there are no holes or gaps for water to leak through. Have the biscuits ready.
To make the biscuit crust, place the biscuits in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the biscuits are finely ground and sandy. You need 150g.
Alternatively, place the biscuits in a sealed bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Add the melted butter, granulated sugar, and salt to the food processor and pulse four times, or until the mixture looks slightly damp and will hold together when a small amount is squeezed in your palm.
Spoon the crumb mixture into the springform pan and flatten into an even layer with your hands. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside and let cool while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C.
To make the filling, cut the softened cream cheese into cubes and place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 4 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the granulated sugar and salt and continue mixing on medium speed for an additional 4 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl after 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix until combined. Place the whole eggs and yolks in a pourable container.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, to the cream cheese mixture, scraping the bowl after each addition and fully incorporating each before adding another. Be careful not to overmix or aerate the batter at this point; air bubbles will cause the cheesecake to crack.
Give the crème fraîche a few stirs to smooth out any lumps. With the mixer on low, add the crème fraîche to the egg–cream cheese mixture and mix until the batter is smooth, creamy, and homogenous, about 1 minute. Give the mixture a final stir by hand, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl well. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon or small spatula.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the springform pan in the centre of a large roasting pan with tall sides, and gently place the pan on the middle rack of the preheated oven (have the oven rack pulled out slightly to make it easier to add the boiling water to the pan). Carefully pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan so it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan (be sure not to exceed the level of the foil).
Very gently, slide the oven rack back in place. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and check for doneness. When done, the cheesecake will be jiggly in the centre if given a gentle nudge, with the outer edge set. If it is still very loose and liquidy, continue baking up to 30 minutes more, checking every 10 minutes. Cool in the roasting pan for 1 hour.
Remove the cheesecake from the double boiler and let it cool at room temperature for 1 more hour. At this point, the surface will still have a slight jiggle to it. Remove the foil wrap from the springform pan.
To prepare the topping, in a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla bean seeds until smooth and creamy. Spread evenly on the surface of the cheesecake. Loosely cover the top of the pan with a fresh sheet of foil and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight. This gentle cooling helps produce a smooth-surfaced cheesecake with no cracks.
Loosen the cheesecake from the pan by running a small knife with a thin blade around the edge. Release and lift off the pan sides. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cake to a serving plate, if using, or leave it on the cake pan base.
To serve, dip your knife in warm water, wipe dry, then cut firmly, especially through the crust, which takes a little extra pressure. Wipe the blade between slices. The cheesecake will keep in the refrigerator, well wrapped, for up to 1 week.
From Tartine: A Classic Revisited by Elisabeth Prueitt (£29, Chronicle Books), out now
Photography: Pleesecakes image by Kris Kirkham; Tartine image by Gentl + Hyers
Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.