I never make cheesecake anymore. About 20 years ago, I baked two cheesecakes weekly at a little inn on the island, and I was cured for life, you might say. Over the time I did that, roughly four months a year for two years, I learned a lot about how different kinds of ricotta and cream cheese could make a big difference in outcome and how the weather, particularly humidity, could affect it as well. It was a fussy, if delicious, recipe.
And, truth be told, Jamie and I can’t go around eating all that much cheesecake anymore, anyway. So the occasional slice I find at a potluck or at a restaurant usually satisfies the craving. Still, cheesecake has a nice set of flavors and textures, and this no-bake version comes close. As I tried it out, I thought it was too bad to think of it as cheesecake. It might be better to think of it as some other kind of creamy dessert. At any event, it is tasty, rich and a snap to make.
The graham cracker crust was a surprise. My first instinct was to mix the ingredients, put them in the pan, and then stick it in the oven as usual, but when I looked for baking instructions I realized — wait, this is a no-bake crust! I was surprised that it held together so well without baking. Brown sugar is the cause of that, I think.
By now, you know that I like things a little less sweet, so as you go along, sample the filling and add more sugar if you wish and use less lemon. Personally, I would add more lemon. You can put almost anything on top — I had some blueberries in the freezer and stewed them up with a little sugar and cornstarch. Fresh sliced strawberries or crushed sweetened raspberries would be good, too.
I think that making your own crumbs is so easy that you can save money by merely rolling four crackers at time under a rolling pin. One packet out of a box of crackers will give you what you need so don’t bother buying pre-crushed crackers.
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Graham Cracker Crust
Yields one 8-inch cheesecake, 6 to 8 servings.
1½ cups crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup melted butter
Mix all these together in a bowl, then press them into an 8-inch spring-form pan, pushing them up the sides about an inch and a half. Put the pan into the fridge and mix the filling.
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
Grated peel and juice of one lemon
Blueberries, strawberries or other fruit for the top
Put the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat until it is softened, then add the cream, sugar, peel and juice and beat until it is as smooth as you can get it. Pour it into the crust and set in the fridge to firm up for several hours. Serve with fruit on top.