Chances are your oven will be on overdrive this Thanksgiving, as you rotate a turkey and countless side dishes in and out of it like a game of culinary Tetris. Consider this recipe for Easy No-Bake Cheesecake to be that often desired skinny block shape—the one my fellow nerds and I know as the “I-block” tetromino—that instantly eases your (and your oven’s) anxiety. The second it’s in your reach, your stress subsides as your oven gains some much-needed breathing room.
Now, this isn’t any ordinary cheesecake. There are no eggs involved, because no baking plus no eggs means no salmonella. Triple win! So rather than a traditional cheesecake consistency that’s firm, and yet fluffy, this no-bake cheesecake is more pudding-like.
And when it comes to taste, I like my cheesecake like I like my cocktails—not too sweet and just a touch sour. This recipe delivers big on the flavor front. Pour the smooth and tangy custard into a buttery graham cracker crust, top it off with a few (easily extracted) pomegranate seeds, and you’ll be giving thanks for a whole lot this holiday season.
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Easy No-Bake Cheesecake
Yield: 1 (9-inch) cheesecake
Prep Time: 4 hours (includes chilling)
2 sleeves (18 sheets) graham crackers
11 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds, for garnish
Place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. (Alternately, crush the graham crackers in a sealed plastic bag.) Transfer the graham cracker crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in the melted butter and sugar until the mixture is well combined.
Press the graham cracker mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides (about 1 1/2 inches) of a 9-inch springform pan. (You can use the side and bottom of a dry measuring cup to help press the crumbs into the pan.) Cover the crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 20 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth and then stream in the sweetened condensed milk. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Pour the filling into the chilled graham cracker crust, cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until firm. (See Kelly's Notes.)
When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge and unclasp the spring on the springform pan to remove the outer ring. Top the cheesecake with the pomegranate seeds then slice and serve.
This cheesecake has a softer, pudding-like consistency. Because there is no gelatin in the mixture, the cheesecake will never fully harden past the pudding stage.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.