The weather is certainly getting warmer, which means that I am way less likely to turn on my oven to bake up something delicious. That doesn’t mean I can’t show up to the party without something homemade, though. Don’t forget the wonder of “no bake” desserts, including these heavenly black-bottom cheesecake bars from Melanie Underwood’s upcoming book, Making Artisan Cheesecake.
Black-Bottom Cheesecake Bars
This recipe is based on black bottom pie, which is a chocolate crust, layers of chocolate and vanilla puddings, and whipped cream. Here, we use cream cheese as well as milk for the custard. The crust needs to be doubled here so it is thick enough to support the custard. Although these take a little more time to make, they are well worth it!
2 batches Cookie Crust made with Oreos (recipe follows)
3 cups (705 ml) milk, divided
1 tablespoon (8 g) granulated gelatin
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (175 g) sugar, divided
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons (24 g) cornstarch
6 ounces (170 g) cream cheese
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
6 ounces (170 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups (470 ml) heavy cream, cold
1 cup (100 g) chocolate shavings
To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, or gas mark 4). Follow the instructions below for the Cookie Crust, using Oreos. Place in a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) pan. Let cool completely before adding the cheesecake batter.To make the cheesecake: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the milk and the gelatin; set aside.In a medium-size saucepan, whisk together the remaining 2 3/4 cups (645 ml) milk and 1/2 cup (100 g) of the sugar. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.Meanwhile, in a medium-size heatproof bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar, the eggs, and the cornstarch until completely combined. Slowly whisk half of the milk mixture into the eggs. Place the egg mixture back in the saucepan with the milk. Place over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the cream cheese and vanilla until completely combined.Remove 1 cup (240 ml) of the mixture and place in a small heatproof bowl; immediately add the chocolate and whisk until completely combined and the chocolate is melted; set aside.
Add the milk and gelatin mixture to the bowl of vanilla and whisk until combined; set aside to cool.Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whip attachment, combine the heavy cream and remaining 2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar and beat on speed 4 to 6 until stiff peaks form. Divide the whipped cream in half and add half to the cooled vanilla mixture. Gently fold in the whipped cream until completely combined.Pour the chocolate mixture on top of the crust and use a small offset spatula to spread so that the mixture reaches the edges of the pan and is smooth and level on top. Pour on the vanilla mixture, and again spread it to the edges and until smooth and level. Top with the remaining whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Allow to cool at room temperature. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (this will help the cheesecake set completely). Remove from the refrigerator and slice into squares to serve.
Ground crusts are the easiest to get into a springform pan. Place the mixture into the pan and, using your palm or the bottom of a glass, press it firmly and evenly into the bottom. If you want crust on the sides of your cheesecake, prepare the larger recipe above, press about half the mixture into the bottom of the pan, then use the sides of a glass to press the rest of the mixture onto the sides.
- Yield: One 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) cheesecake
Variation: Black Bottom Mint Cheesecake Bars
Substitute mint extract for the vanilla.
BOTTOM-ONLY COOKIE CRUST
1 3/4 cups (205 g) finely ground cookie crumbs (about 10 graham crackers or 32 vanilla wafers, chocolate wafers, or gingersnaps)
2 tablespoons (26 g) sugar
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, or gas mark 4).In a medium bowl, combine the ground cookies or nuts and sugar (in this case, Oreos). Add the butter and stir with a rubber spatula to combine, making sure all the butter is absorbed and the crumbs or nuts are evenly coated.Place the mixture in a 10-inch (25 cm) springform pan. Using the palm of your hand or the bottom of a glass, press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. For a bottom-and-sides crust, use the sides of a glass to press about half of the mixture into the sides of the pan.Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until slightly firm. (The nut crust will be toasted to a golden brown and have a nutty aroma.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, about 10 minutes.