No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake

Thursday, 18 August 2016

There're four ingredients in my no-bake cheesecake filling: yogurt, cream cheese, icing sugar, and gelatine.

There's no cream in the recipe.

Why not?

Because cream cheese plus cream is too heavy for the hot, humid weather in Singapore.

Instead of cream, I use natural yogurt. It's creamy but it has less than 10% of the fat in cream.

Natural yogurt is quite sour. A fair bit of sugar is needed to balance the sourness. I use icing sugar because it melts easily.

Cheesecake filling made without whipped cream needs some gelatine. There should be just enough to set the liquid ingredients. Too much gelatine would make the filling lose its creaminess and turn into pudding.


The amount of water in the filling also affects how firmly it sets. My recipe uses set yogurt. Thin, pourable yogurt would make the filling too soft because it has more water.

Cream cheese turns watery when it's mixed too much. The change is irreversible.

Watery cream cheese would make the filling less firm. Overmixing can happen in seconds if you use a food processor. But it's unlikely if you mix manually.

There're two types of cream cheese: block and spreadable. Block is firmer; spreadable is softer. This recipe works with block cream cheese. It's mixed till smooth without losing its firm consistency.

There're broken Oreo pieces in my cheesecake. I scatter the cookies between 3 layers of cream cheese mixture.

The cream cheese mixture should be thick enough to stop the cookies from sinking. But it may not be if the weather is hot, or if the cream cheese is overmixed.

What to do if the mixture is too thin? Chill it before assembling the cheesecake. When it cools down in the fridge, it thickens up nicely.

What's the right consistency? If the cream cheese mixture is level – like water – after it's poured, it's too thin. If it isn't level, but it is after you shake it, that's just right.

There're air bubbles in the cream cheese mixture. They rise to the surface and leave pockmarks on the cake when the consistency is too thin. That's another reason for getting the cream cheese mixture thick.

Cheesecake crust is made with cookie crumbs and butter. Some people melt their butter before whizzing it with cookies in a food processor. That's not necessary at all. Food processors can pulverise solid butter in seconds. Melt the butter only if you're crushing and mixing by hand.

Using a food processor speeds things up. Doing everything manually, as I show in my video, takes longer but it's hardly hard labour. I don't break a sweat making cheesecake by hand.

20 September 2016 Update
All gelatines have a Bloom number to indicate their gel strength, clarity and taste. Gelatines with a low number give a softer set, they're murky, and they taste awful. Those with a high number give a firmer set. And they're almost transparent, and almost tasteless.

The amount of gelatine powder for replacing 3 gelatine leaves varies with the powder's Bloom number:

Bloom 125-155: 9.9 g (3 tsp)
Bloom 160-180: 7.5 g (21/3 tsp)
Bloom 190-225: 6.0 g (13/4 tsp)
Bloom 235-265: 5.1 g (11/2 tsp)

To bloom gelatine powder, put it in a bowl and sprinkle with just enough room temperature water to wet it thoroughly. The powder to water ratio is 1:3 by weight, or 1:2 by volume. Once wet, the gelatine powder may be melted in a hot water bath, as for gelatine leaves in the recipe below.



NO-BAKE OREO CHEESECAKE (免烤奥利奥芝士蛋糕)
(Recipe for one 8" x 5" x 2" cake)

中文版食谱

Crust
18 Oreos without icing (132 g)
40 g unsalted butter, melted and cool

Cutouts
8.5 Oreos without icing, soft

Filling
3 gelatine leaves (read update above if using gelatine powder)
500 g full-fat natural set yogurt
250 g full-fat block cream cheese
120 g icing sugar, sift if lumpy
2.5 Oreos without icing
break into small pieces, add scraps from cutouts or another 6.5 Oreos

All ingredients, utensils and tools should be at room temperature unless otherwise stated.

1) Line 8" x 5" x 2" cake pan with 2 sheets of plastic forming "t" shape, leaving overhang of 1".

2) To make crust, place cookies in plastic bag. Bash into fine crumbs. Add butter. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into cake pan. Spread evenly. Press hard so that crumbs are compact. Refrigerate.

3) To make cutouts, cut cookies with 3 cm and 2 cm heart-shaped cutters.

4) To make filling, soak gelatine in ice water till just soft, 4-5 minutes. Squeeze hard to remove excess water. Place in bowl. Place bowl in freshly boiled water till gelatine is melted, about 5 minutes.

5) Add 2-3 tbsp yogurt to melted gelatine. Whisk till even and smooth. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add remaining yogurt. Whisk till even and smooth.

6) Beat cream cheese till half smooth. Add icing sugar. Beat till just even and smooth. Add about 1/4 of yogurt mixture. Whisk till just smooth. Add remaining yogurt mixture. Whisk till just even. Taste and add more sugar if you like. Scrape down thoroughly and mix through.

7) If necessary, chill cream cheese mixture till consistency is like softly whipped cream.

8) Pour almost 1/3 of cream cheese mixture into cake pan. Sprinkle with half of cookies. Repeat layering as before. Finish with layer of cream cheese mixture. Bang cake pan against worktop 3-4 times. Cover and refrigerate till filling is set, about 8 hours. Keep chilled till serving time.

9) To serve, remove cake from pan. Discard plastic lining. Transfer cake to cake board. Decorate with cutouts. Cut with chef's knife, wiping knife clean after each cut. 

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