We love a tall New York-style cheesecake, but it’s a bit of a project. It’s also incredibly rich and decadent. Sometimes we want the essence of a cheesecake with less fuss, and we want the tang of a cream cheese-based cake without the weight_something lighter and creamier to finish a meal.

Enter no-bake cheesecake: The filling is lightened with whipped cream and the absence of eggs makes for a less rich cake. We achieved the best flavor and texture when we stuck to the tried-and-true combination of heavy cream and cream cheese thickened with gelatin.

Allowing the gelatin to hydrate in a portion of the cream and then bringing it to a boil in the microwave fully activated its thickening power. Lemon juice, lemon zest, and a little vanilla added just enough spark to perk up the tangy cream cheese.

And with a few simple tweaks, we created a peanut butter lover’s variation, using Nutter Butter cookies in the crust and a generous dose of peanut butter in the cake. Serve with Fresh Strawberry Topping (recipe follows), if desired.

mhastings@wsjournal.com

336-727-7394

@mhastingsWSJ

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