No-bake Cheesecake with Shortbread Pistachio Crust
Once Upon a Cheesecake
UPDATED RECIPE: I updated the cream cheese amount on the recipe and added some notes as about the steps well.
I think we are reminiscent of our childhood not because of the memories but because how they make us feel when we think about them. These were times of freedom and carefree days. Almost any occurrence in our lives would make us laugh fearlessly, because growing up we would laugh at anything. And when we think about these memories we feel free again, carefree again, and even if we are alone, we will laugh at any of them again.
When desperate times call for a special dessert, my mom has this big gun under her sleeve. I have no idea where she found this gem, but we are all glad she did. It’s just cream cheese sweetened with condensed milk and a bit of lemon to cut the sweetness and add some floral notes. She made some tweaks and made it her own. And it’s still her own because my sister and I wouldn’t dare to change a thing. It’s that perfect. It’s that good.
This recipe is part of those many memories that I can pull from my growing years. It was the dessert for almost every holiday. The anticipation to this no-bake cheesecake would start early in the morning. We would want to eat just to get our hands on it. It even hides a little family secret, and I’m counting on your total discretion to keep it that way, OK?
On one Thanksgiving we made two of these and for some reason one ended up being firmer and tangier than the other. My sister and I decided to keep that one away form the rest of the family. Knowing that probably we wouldn’t need to cut completely this second cheesecake, it would be our treat during the next few days to eat with all the leftovers. We were so clever!!... Still, karma has its ways to remind us who’s in charge. So, as well mannered hosts, we went to pick the first pie and when we were walking to the table it dropped. A moment of silence here, please… Ok, I can talk now. My sister and I looked at each other, shocked. What the fudge??? With our spirits crushed and our food expectations for the next days shattered, we had to go back to the fridge and take out our little gem.
This memory, to this day, makes me laugh so much. It reminds me of a time of total innocence, yet total dare. The perfect juxtaposition that you want to have when you are growing up and one we should never loose in the process.
1. Technically this is an almost no-bake cheesecake since I baked the crust. But it's only 8 minutes and the texture is so much better. I don't like the crusts that are not even baked a bit, but if you have a trusted no-bake crust recipe you may use it here. Let me know how it goes.
2. In this recipe it’s very important that the cream cheese is at room temperature. It has to be almost warm and very soft. I like to press it so it gets very thin and warm faster.
3. I added the pistachios to add some nutty notes to the crust, but they are totally optional. Just follow the instructions using only the cookies.
4. This recipe truly gets better with time. If are planning ahead, for sure you can make it two to three days before, just decorate right before serving.
4. If you want to speed up the chilling process you may place the cheesecake in the freezer for an hour, then transfer it to the fridge and chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
5. Remember that this recipe will be kind of wobbly on the inside so it will loose its shape a bit when you cut it. Whipping the cream cheese for the full time helps al lot in making this cheesecake holding its shape.
No bake Cheesecake with Shortbread Pistachio Crust
Shortbread cookies – 11 oz. (1 package)
Shelled pistachios – ¼ cup
Unsalted butter, melted – 4 to 5 TBSP
Raw sugar - 2 TBSP
Pinch of fine sea salt
Regular cream cheese – 20 oz. (2 ½boxes)
Condensed milk – 14 oz. (1 can)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice – 2 TBSP
Vanilla extract – ½ Tsp
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350°.
In the bowl of the food processor already attached to the base, pulse the pistachios just before finely ground. Break the cookies and add them to the bowl with the salt. Pulse again until almost crushed, about less than 10 seconds. Make sure everything is well incorporated by scraping the bowl sides and bottom, then pulse a few more seconds to make everything come together. With the food processor running, pour the melted butter through the lid hole and pulse just a few seconds more, until the cookie crumbs look just wet. Transfer the content to the tart flute pan or the pan you will be using. Press onto the bottom and up to the sides, until the crumbs are evenly distributed and you have reached the edges of the pan. You may use a bottom flat small measuring cup or utensil to help yourself press down and distribute the crumbs. Bake for 8 minutes and then place it in the fridge to cool down.
To make the filling: In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attached whip the cream cheese for 3 to 4 minutes in medium speed (# 3 in the Kitchen Aid mixer), until the cheese is airy and flufly but peaks are still a bit stiff. Slow the speed to low and drizzle a bit of the condensed milk and let it incorporate. Drizzle a bit more and let it incorporate. If needed, stop the mixer and using a rubber spatula scrap down any cream cheese. Pour the remaining condensed milk, vanilla and lemon juice and wait until incorporated to speed up the mixer again. Whip for 1 to 2 minutes. Taste to make sure all the flavors are well integrated. Mix for 1 to 2 minutes more if necessary. Pour over the crust and chill for 6 to 8 hours, preferably overnight. Decorate with pistachios and fresh fruits.