Mom’s No-Bake Cheesecake is perfect for any occasion! Try making this dessert in the summertime when the last thing you want to do is turn on your oven! Once you have prepared the crumb base and the cream cheese filling, top it with your favourite store-bought or homemade jam!
MOM’S NO-BAKE CHEESECAKE
When I was growing up, Sunday dinner dessert was almost always my mom’s no-bake cheesecake. It was a simple dessert with no fuss and all of us kids loved it. Her favourite fruit topping was canned cherry though, which I absolutely hate, but whenever she made it, I would scrape the cherries off and eat the rest. No complaints!
I decided to try my own hand at them, and I tried to follow my mom’s recipe, but with a few exceptions. After all, my tastes have changed over the years, and as one who spends so much quality time with me, myself, and my kitchen, I added a few twists.
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INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS RECIPE
The following is a list of the ingredients needed to prepare this recipe. For exact amounts and measurements, refer to the printable recipe card located near the bottom of this post.
For the Graham Crust Base:
- Graham Crumbs – I always try to find the crumbs rather than using the wafers. It just saves me from dirtying up my food processor. Don’t use a cheap, no-name brand. If you can afford the extra dollar, buy a good brand. Personally, I prefer Keebler brand, but they’re really hard to find in Canada, so my second choice is Honey Maid.
- Butter – Use salted butter. If you don’t have salted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to your crumb mixture.
- Cinnamon – That’s my secret ingredient! Such a common ingredient, but it adds such a warm flavour to the mixture. You’ll love it!
For the Cream Cheese Filling:
- Cream Cheese – When baking with cream cheese it is always best to use brick style rather than whipped or cream cheese in a tub. The brick style is firmer and more condensed. Cream cheese adds texture and flavour to baked items.
- Whipping Cream – Please see the next section on whipping cream.
- Vanilla Extract – Probably the most common extract and the most common flavouring used in cakes and cookies.
- Confectioner’s Sugar – This superfine sugar is sometimes called powdered sugar.
For the Topping:
- Jam – You will need one cup of your favourite jam. Store-bought is fine, but there’s absolutely nothing like homemade. I have a wonderful homemade jam recipe right here that is so quick and easy. It’s a small batch too, so you don’t have worry about long-term storage.
HEAVY CREAM VS WHIPPING CREAM
Confession time – I use them both interchangeably, depending on what is available at the store, or whatever is on sale! Both of these can be quite costly. If memory serves me correctly, a 250mL carton, or one cup, here in Canada, will run just short of $5! There is a difference in the two, but not enough to concern yourself with when it comes to Mom’s No Bake Cheesecake.
Just in case you’re interested, the most basic difference is the amount of fat contained in both. Whipping cream has 35% fat. It can be whipped into peaks and it’s also rich enough that it won’t curdle when heated in soups and sauces. It’s nearly identical to heavy cream so if a recipe calls for heavy cream and you can only find whipping cream, feel free to use that instead. In contrast, heavy cream, which is sometimes called heavy whipping cream, contains about 38% fat. Either of those would work well in this recipe. I used 35% whipping cream.
TRICKS AND TIPS
There are a few little tricks to making these no-bake cheesecakes look like you’ve put a lot of work into them. The first little secret is in the graham crumb bottom. The next secret can be found in the cream cheese filling. And, lastly, like all things homemade and good, the topping must be your own! (None of this store-bought canned stuff!)
As you can see, I decided to make these in individual jars. I did this basically because I think it’s prettier (and it’s all about the pretty for me!), and it’s individually portioned. You can grab one and go, and you won’t need a plate, or a knife to cut it with… all you need is the jar and a fork. If you prefer, you can certainly make this up in a 9″ x 13″ Pyrex dish and cut it into squares to serve.
WORKING WITH GRAHAM CRACKERS
If you already have graham crackers on hand, there’s no need to buy graham crumbs. Using your hands, break the crackers into smaller pieces, adding them to the bowl of a food processor as you go.
Add the cinnamon to the top of the crumbled crackers. Pulse the crackers a few times until the mixture resembles sand. You might be tempted to pour the melted butter in too, but do not do it!
Pulsing the crumb mixture with the butter will result in a very fine crumb, and your base will have very little texture. You run the risk of the mixture being too soft or runny to form into an even crumb crust.
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THIS IS HOW I MADE IT!
LET’S START WITH THE CRUMB BASE FIRST:
The process couldn’t be easier! Start by mixing the melted butter into the graham crumbs and cinnamon. (Cinnamon in the graham crumb crust is the first secret. It adds such a wonderful, homemade taste to the crust.)
I used my hand mixer so that I could be sure the butter was completely incorporated. When you purchase the graham crumbs, the amount of butter and graham crumb ratio will be printed on the package; follow those instructions for proper amounts.
Portion the graham crumb mixture so that about a half-inch lines the bottom of your jars. If you’re using a 9 x 13″ pan, just pour in all of the crumb mixture. Using the back of a teaspoon, gently move the graham crumb mixture into place.
Don’t press the mixture down too hard; this will result in a crust that’s too firm. You will want a crumbly crust. Place the jars, or your dish, into the refrigerator while you start the cream cheese filling.
LET’S MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE FILLING!
To make the cream cheese filling, beat the heavy cream and vanilla together until firm peaks form. Next, in a separate bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth and free of lumps. Turn off the mixer, add the confectioner’s sugar to the cream cheese and whip again until the sugar is fully incorporated.
Add the heavy whipping cream to the bowl of cream cheese and whip until fully combined. (That’s the second secret. Use heavy whipping cream. Don’t use store-bought cool whip or packaged dessert toppings. Also, the confectioner’s sugar is a little flavour boost. You can add as much or as little as you want to suit your tastes.)
Remove the jars (or your dish) from the fridge and top the crust with the cream cheese mixture. If you’re making this in a dish, it will be easy. Pour the cream cheese mixture onto the graham crust and smooth it out with an offset spatula.
If you’re making this in jars, I find the easiest way to do it is to scoop the cream cheese mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a #12 tip. Or, just use a Ziploc bag and cut off the tip. This method allows you to get the cream cheese mixture right into the jars without much fuss or mess. Just squeeze the bag and fill the jar with about an inch and a half of the cream cheese mixture. Smooth out the top and place the jars back into the fridge until you’re ready to top them and eat them!
TOP IT WITH YOUR FAVOURITE JAM!
Just before serving, top the cheesecakes with your favourite homemade jam. (That’s the third secret. Use homemade jam. By doing so, you can once again control the sweetness and keep this dessert your own. You can find my homemade jam recipe under the recipes menu.)
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Mom’s No-Bake Cheesecake
For the Graham Crust Base:
- 3 1/2 cups graham crumbs
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Cream Cheese Filling:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
For the Jam Topping:
- 1 cup jam
- In a mixing bowl, pour the melted butter over the graham crumbs along with the cinnamon. Mix until well combined.
- If making the cheesecakes in individual jars, evenly distribute the graham crumb mixture among the jars and lightly press the mixture into the jars to form a light crust/base. If using a 9×13 inch pan, transfer all of the graham crumb mixture to the dish and press lightly into the corner and around the pan to create an even light crust/base. Place in refrigerator.
- In a mixing bowl, use a hand held mixer to cream the cream cheese. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, add the heavy whipping cream and vanilla. Whisk until mixture forms stiff peaks.
- Transfer the whipped cream to the bowl of cream cheese. Mix until well incorporated. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix into the cream cheese mixture.
- Top each jar with an even amount of the cream cheese mixture – about 11/2 inches of the topping. See blog post notes for an easy way to do this! If using a 9×13 inch dish, spread all of the cream cheese mixture over the top of the graham crust. Place bake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, evenly distribute the 1 cup of jam over the individual jars, or spread the entire cup of jam onto the topping in the 9×13 inch dish.
- Serve individual jars immediately. For the dish, cut into 12 portions. Serve.
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