It's another free choice week for the Heavenly Cake Bake-along, and I'm getting down to a very short list of unbaked options. I went with the one remaining cheesecake, the perhaps deceptively named No-Bake Whipped Cream Cheesecake with Cherry Coulis. If this brings to mind the "no-bake cheesecake" in a box, you're not in the right universe for either taste or effort. I think I last ate the Jello variety on a camping trip with my older brother about, oh, 30 years ago, when he assured me it would taste great because we were, you know, camping. (He was wrong.) And in terms of effort, the "no bake" part just means you don't have to turn on the oven: there are still 4 components and 4 pages of instructions before you end up with Rose's no-bake cheesecake. And don't get fooled by the phrase "whipped cream cheesecake"--there's no "whipped cream" in it, it's "whipped cream cheese". I was a little dubious about the use of a tub of whipped cream cheese, but the results were marvelous.
I am finding these multi-component cakes more of a struggle to tackle, probably in some combination of cake-of-the-week fatigue and a higher stress level from other stuff than usual. After the bake-along winds up (well, after Marie finishes, because I understand that the Heavenly Cakes baking group will continue) I'll need a long break from recipes that need more than a couple of components, especially if one of them involves beating sugar syrup into egg whites (see below).
I again did a half recipe this week, digging out my little 6" springform pan for the occasion. First up was the graham cracker crust: just crumbs, sugar, salt and butter, mixed and pressed on the bottom and sides of the pan. Then came a custard with gelatin, which means there's no breaks allowed in the rest of the filling preparation, because if you refrigerate the custard it will set up. Two egg yolks of the smaller size I always seem to get made for half the recipe amount (the full recipe needs 3 eggs, so I should have only needed 1-1/2 yolks here). I used vanilla bean paste instead of an actual bean. The custard came together as it should, and then cooled very quickly because of the small amount. It already had a skin when I stirred inthe vanilla, which might have been the start of my later problems.
The next step was beating the whipped cream cheese with the sour cream, then beating in the custard. It wasn't apparent when I had the mixer running, but giving the finished stuff a stir turned up lots of custard-lumps. I got out my small drum sieve and pressed all the cream cheese mixture though it, then gave it all another stir to, I hope, distribute the custard.
Then came my unfavorite part: an Italian meringue. I haven't counted how many of these we've done, but my technique is not improving very fast. I had only a little better success in keeping the sugar syrup off the beaters and sides of the bowl this time. I used a handheld mixer because of the small volume--the stand mixer didn't seem like a good option. However, in the end I had a fluffy meringue, just maybe a little less sweet than it was designed due to sugar syrup left stuck to the sides of the bowl.
After the meringue cooled some, it was folded into the custard mixture, poured into the chilled graham cracker crust, and popped into the fridge with a small plate over the top for protection without marring the top the way plastic wrap would. My batter fit just about perfectly in the 6" springform.
For the cherry coulis, I used part of a jar of Trader Joe's Morello cherries, it being the season for cherry blossoms, not fruit. I had to estimate the amount of cherries and juice as the recipe was written to macerate fresh cherries and use the juice that generated. I added a little more thickening at the end because the liquid seemed so thin. My final consistency was still quite runny, so I don't think I overshot that at all. Maybe we're fruit lovers compared to some mythical norm, but I thought the amount was pretty scanty and would up it by half again to get the amount I'd like to serve with each cheesecake piece.
Tasting results: I only managed a small sampling in the family. Older niece, hyper from a big win at the high school regional robotics competition, hardly paused from telling her father about the event to eat part of a serving and pronounce it good. Sister-in-law had a bite and loved the extremely light texture. Younger niece, the anti-cheese person, did take a small taste of the cheesecake without the cherry coulis, said "I like it and I don't like it", declined any more, and ate a cherry. (That she liked...) Personally I loved it--it's extremely light textured, not too sweet, and nicely set off by the crust and the coulis. In fact I don't think the cheesecake would do well without the coulis or some other sweet accompaniment. It's probably too much effort unless I someday get the hang of making Italian meringue into an effortless process, but it certainly was good.
The remains of the cheesecake went to the office Monday, and got rave reviews. CW: I think you should be able to eat a whole bowl of this stuff and have it not count--it's so light! BT: This is lovely stuff. CL: It's incredibly light--not heavy and way rich like so many cheesecakes.