Monday, July 28, 2008

No-Bake "Cheesecake" with Blueberries

I haven't had the desire to cook for the past few weeks, partly because of laziness but partly because the apartment was utterly out of groceries. Before going to Trader Joe's to stock up, I saw an article on the NYT: Cheesecake Without Baking.

I was pretty damn skeptical at first. I failed miserably (twice) attempting to make Mark Bittman's "fool-proof" vanilla pudding, in which he uses no eggs and only corn starch to thicken them. Both my attempts didn't produce anything close to what's seen in the photo, and besides, pudding with no eggs? I won't believe corn starch alone can produce something with the consistency of custard until somebody proves me otherwise.

In any case, after reading the recipe I decided to give it a shot. The items were easily procurable, and worst case scenario, I would just blame pompous Bittman for yet another failure recipe.

The ingredients I used were mostly those listed in his recipe:
  • 8 whole graham crackers
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Maple syrup, to taste
  • Sugar, to taste
The original called for lemon rind and honey, but TJ's was out of lemons and I didn't want to buy a jar of honey with two weeks left in the summer. They only had light cream cheese as well.

First, the graham cracker crust needed to be made, and fortunately I had the pleasure of seeing it being made in action before. No ziploc bag was around, so I literally mortar and pestled those graham crackers. After mixing in the butter, I spread it around the glass baking pan and popped it into the oven at 350°F. The goal was just to make it golden brown.

In the meantime, the ricotta, cream cheese, syrup, and sugar were mixed together with a spoon. Bittman says that you can use a whisk to mix them; don't do it. It clumps together like no other. I dumped the mixture on top of a cooled graham cracker crust, topped it with blueberries, and chilled it over night.

My experiment didn't fail too terribly, but I think using less ricotta cheese and more cream cheese would have balanced the taste a little more. I wasn't a fan of the maple syrup, so next time I'll make sure to use the lemon rind/honey combo.

1 comment:

Tiff said...

also, low-fat cream cheese doesn't taste anything like actual cream cheese (at least in my experience - i don't know about TJ's, but it's definitely true of Philadelphia brand), so that would probably alter the balance of the flavor too.