The first time I ate a cheesecake was when I was in school. I had gone to my cousin’s house in Bangalore for vacation. It was summer and that only meant one thing – mangoes. She taught me how to make a simple, no-bake mango cheesecake. When I say simple, I mean simple and that doesn’t mean it wasn’t delicious; it was smashing.
It was one of those recipes that was doing the rounds across all cities. I suppose it was an urban phenomenon. A pack of biscuit, some butter, condensed milk, cottage cheese, gelatin and fruit pulp – it’s the kind of readily available ingredients people like to work with. And when something tastes so good without a semblance of drudgery whatsoever, it has to become a legend and so it did. A no-bake cheesecake is still one of the most popular desserts people make at home I think.
Thanks to my cousin, my standard of cheesecake is pretty high. I still remember; it was like eating a fresh mango but creamier and better. I was back from my vacation and I had a cheesecake craving (of course I did). Believe it or not though, this time it was about making the cheesecake more than tasting it. It was a recipe I wanted to try and also the first dessert I attempted making. I consciously use the word attempted because things didn’t go very well for me that day.
My mother was not thoroughly impressed by the idea of me making something in her kitchen. It was a weird territory issue and I suppose she foresaw disaster. Anyway, I went and bought all the ingredients enthusiastically. My biscuit crust was done and it was chilling in the refrigerator. I combined all the filling ingredients in the blender and began to power through. I heard a massive cracking noise and my heart skipped a beat.
As I was blending, I’d left the small plastic lid of the blender inside with all the ingredients. It was broken into shambles and the pieces were all over my beautiful cheesecake filling. That was the end to my cheesecake ambition and I wasn’t allowed to enter the kitchen for a long time. As days went by, I picked up the pieces (literally), and gathered the courage to ask my mother if I could make cheesecake again. She let me.
There have been several cheesecake days in my kitchen after that episode, thankfully good ones. I still like my no-bake cheesecakes, sure. But today I am steering clear of canned goods. This is a good old fashioned, New York style, baked cheese cake made from scratch. This is the real deal. Oh and don’t you just love the blueberry swirl effect?
- 1 cup Graham crackers/digestive biscuits (pulsed into powder)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 450 g cream cheese
- 160 g (1/2+1/4 cup) caster sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
For blueberry topping
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Combine blitzed biscuits, sugar and melted butter in a bowl. Transfer to the base of a 9” springfoam pan. Press crumb mixture firmly to the bottom of the pan (see pic). Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
- For the filling, in a bowl, cream the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar and salt, beat further (2-3 minute). Add egg one at a time and continue to beat. Finally, add vanilla extract and beat again.
- For blueberry topping, bring blueberries and sugar to the boil in a sauce pan. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Blend the blueberries in a processor. Pass it through a fine sieve and set aside.
- In a sauce pan, bring 1 litre of water to the boil. It should be simmering hot. Pour the cream cheese mixture on the biscuit base.
- Drop blueberry syrup using a teaspoon on top of the cheesecake (see pic). Using a wooden toothpick, make a swirl, connecting the blueberry dots.
- Wrap the pan with aluminum foil. Place the pan in a deep baking tin. Place the tin in the oven. Pour the boiling hot water into the tin. Bake for 70-80 minutes at 150 C.
- Allow the cheesecake to cool. Refrigerate overnight before serving.