Wimbledon No-Bake Cheesecake (Strawberries & Cream)

It’s the start of the tennis season and I woke up this morning with a flash of inspiration. Everyone loves strawberries and cream, surely the very definition of British summer and the ubiquitous court-side treat. And I never met anyone who didn’t like cheesecake. But who wants the oven on at full pelt and all that faffing with a steamy water-bath during this hot weather….? Ah well, never mind. No, wait! The obvious solution was a no-bake cheesecake. I’d only made it once before, several years ago – but I did recall it being a roaring success. It wasn’t hard to concoct my very own strawberries and cream version, and being no-bake, it is the perfect summer treat for children to get stuck into making – and you needn’t worry about them licking the bowls/spatulas clean (that’s if you don’t get to them first) as this recipe is egg-free. Win!

Cheesecake, baked or otherwise, always tastes better the next day – but if this is made more on a whim (like I did today) then just allow a good few hours chilling time in the fridge before serving. Please be aware that a baked cheesecake will always seem a bit firmer than a non-baked, which tends to be a little softer and creamier. Neither of which are bad things, when you think about it. But bearing this in mind, do not be tempted to use low fat cream cheese, or it will end up a bit too wet and sloppy.

Try to add the whipped cream topping and strawberries just before serving, as strawberries can ‘bleed’ and look a little bit messy – if you mind that sort of thing. I know I’ve only just come up with this cheesecake but I’ve got to be honest – I think it’s one of the best I’ve ever made.

Serves 8-10, depending on how greedy your guests are.

You will need a 20cm (8″) loose bottomed tin, lightly buttered and lined with a circle of baking paper. I use a PushPan from Lakeland for all my cheesecakes as it is watertight, but this isn’t necessary with this cheesecake.

For the base:
115g digestives (Regular or ‘light’ ones are fine)
55g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

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Place the roughly broken digestives into a food processor and blitz until fine. (Or you can place in a clean plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin.)

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Pour in the melted (slightly cooled) butter and blitz again until the mixture comes together. Tip into your prepared tin and press into place using the back of a spoon, or clean fingers. You could get your minions – ahem, children – to do this bit. This amount makes a base I like – not too thick. If you like a really chunky biscuit base, you could happily double the biscuit/butter amounts as you please. When you have an even, smooth looking base, pop the tin in the fridge until required. You can make this the day before if you like – but at the very least you’ll need to chill it in the fridge while you make the rest of the cheesecake.

For the cheesecake:
200g strawberries, chopped and steeped in 20g icing sugar and 1 tsp lemon juice, plus 100g strawberries for the topping (Punnets are usually 300g, so go for that or the nearest equivalent)
400g cream cheese (I use 2 x 200g Philadelphia tubs. Stick to full-fat; now is not the time for weight watching!)
300ml double cream – reserve 150ml for the topping.
30g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
50g white chocolate, chopped

Prepare the strawberries:

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Chop the stalks off 200g strawberries and cut roughly into quarters. Pop into a bowl and sprinkle with 20g icing sugar and 1 tsp lemon juice. Mix together and let it sit – the sugar and lemon juice intensifies the flavour of the strawberries and helps to soften them a little bit. I believe the technical term is macerating but the word makes me feel queasy.

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The ‘process’ doesn’t take long and you can help it along by stirring the strawberries now and again. By the time you’re ready to add them to the cheesecake mix, they should be ready anyway – they should look something like the picture above right.

Make the cheesecake:

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Place the cream cheese, 150ml of double cream, icing sugar, vanilla and lemon juice into your mixer (or use a wooden spoon, or hand whisk) and beat together until smooth. It doesn’t take long, just a few minutes – so keep and eye on it. Don’t over-beat; stop when it looks smooth and creamy, otherwise you might end up with a runny mixture.

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Quickly place the chopped white chocolate in a clean and dry bowl. Cover and place in the microwave for 50 seconds. Give it a stir, it should melt down very quickly (white chocolate melts much faster than dark, so try not to burn it!). With the motor switched off – to avoid nasty splashes – pour the melted chocolate into the cheesecake mix. Switch it back on and gently mix for a minute until the chocolate is thoroughly incorporated.

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Drain the strawberries from their new-found sugary syrup. A bit remaining doesn’t matter at all, you just don’t want all of it. Add them to the cheesecake and stir them in by hand. My daughter enjoyed doing this!

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Plonk the mixture on to the chilled biscuit base – please try to avoid eating it all before it gets into the tin. Smooth it down and pop it in the fridge to chill. (Cover the tin cling film). An overnight rest is best, but a few hours will be okay too.

When you are ready to serve, remove from the tin and whip up the remaining 150ml double cream and spread, pipe or dollop it on the top as you please. Decorate with the remaining 100g strawberries.

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