Cinco de Mayo is almost upon us, peeps, and this is the dessert with which you should celebrate. (I know, I know, there are no “shoulds” in life – but you get the picture). It is a no-bake cheesecake, which means it is super easy to throw together and just needs a nice long rest in the fridge to firm up. Not sure about you, but I am new to the no-bake cheesecake world (I am actually new to the world of loving-cheesecakes period, if you must know) but I have been converted by this little number, and another I recently developed for a magazine. I have now decided that a tangy creamy filling encased in a graham cracker crust is just about perfect eating – and if you add some lime juice and zest and a bit of a booze (we’re celebrating, right?) it kind of takes it over the top. However, if you prefer to celebrate sans alcohol, just leave the tequila and triple sec out – no harm there. Finally, if you’re worried the cake will be too boozy if you do include it, no worries: the alcohol is subtle, and what really sings is the lime…
To take a peek at the original blog post for my no-bake margarita cheesecake, and to peruse my collection of original recipes, click here (this link will be live on Saturday).
FOR THE CRUST
- 18 graham crackers
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons butter, melted
FOR THE FILLING
- 3 eight ounce blocks of cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cans of condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup tequila
- 2 tablespoons triple sec
- zest of two limes
FOR THE BERRY JUICE, OPTIONAL
- a cup of red berries of your choosing
- sugar to taste
TO MAKE THE CRUST
Grease a 9-inch spring-form pan with cooking spray or softened butter. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place the graham crackers, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processer and process until finely ground. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are uniformly moistened, scraping the bowl down if necessary.
Transfer the crumbs to the prepared pan and firmly press them into the bottom and 2/3 of the way up the sides of the pan. I find it easier to start with the sides. After pressing with your fingers, use a measuring cup or straight-sided glass to tightly secure the crumbs into place. Place the crust in the freezer for at least an hour, and up to overnight.
TO MAKE THE FILLING AND ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
Place the room temperature cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium-sized bowl and using a hand mixer, and beat on medium-low until smooth, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk and then the salt, scraping as you go. Once smooth, add the lime juice, tequila, triple sec, and lime zest, beating until combined. Then beat a minute more.
Transfer the filling to the prepared crust, smoothing the top with an offset spatula or butter knife. If you’d like to decorate the top of the cake with berry juice swirls, combine the berries with the sugar and mash the berries up, until liquid-y. Evenly place several teaspoons of the berry liquid on the top of the cake and using a long toothpick, make figure-eights through the berry juice, creating a swirling pattern as you do so. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cake for at least 5 hours, but preferably overnight.
When ready to serve, remove the sides of the pan. To remove the bottom, slide a long serrated knife between the crust and the metal bottom to loosen. Place the cake on a serving plate, removing the parchment, and slice into wedges with the same serrated knife. Run the knife under hot water each time you make a cut, to insure clean slices. Serve with a bit of macerated berries on the side, if using.