I’m always game for a slice of cold, creamy cheesecake. It’s as if someone said, “Here's your favorite cream cheese frosting, but there’s no pesky cake getting in your way.” After making and eating my fair share of the treat, I’ll say that the classic version (graham cracker crust filled with an egg-based cream cheese custard that’s been baked until just set) needs no messing with. But when you’re considering summertime cheesecake, no-bake is the way to go.
This simple no-bake cheesecake is a tribute to the classic—with a few twists along the way. There’s peach jam in the filling, which brings the bold summery stone fruit flavor in the quickest possible way (as opposed to the gloppy overly sweet canned cherry topping so often coating cheesecake.) But here’s the best part. Instead of the usual purely sweet cheesecake crust suspects (graham crackers, chocolate wafers, gingersnaps) the crust is made from crushed Wheat Thins. The salty-sweet crackers mingle so well with the sweet filling, you’ll quickly find one slice of this cheesecake simply is not enough.
Slightly shorter than the mile-high cheesecakes on display at your favorite diner, this version can be made in any 9" pie plate or springform pan (so there’s no need to buy a vessel just for the recipe). I like to line the pan with a bit of parchment to ensure that every slice comes out clean, with its crust fully intact, but if your pan has a nonstick coating, you can skip this step. While some crackers and cookies can get soggy from melted butter, making it necessary to parbake the crust, the snappy Wheat Thins in this recipe are sturdy enough to stay crunchy, even after hours (or days) in the fridge.
Traditional cheesecake’s firm-yet-silky texture comes from eggs baked into the filling (similar to what you see in Key lime or pumpkin pie). No-bake cheesecake fillings tend to be a bit fudgier or mousse-like. This thick, yet velvety texture can be achieved by beating melted chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, gelatin, or silken tofu into the filling—or sometimes just by freezing the cake to help it set. This summery recipe’s filling leans on whipped cream, which will lighten the mixture just enough to get a soft but sliceable texture. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and your choice of tangy-creamy fermented dairy—sour cream, Greek yogurt, and labneh all work—until smooth, then fold in the freshly whipped cream.
For extra summery sweetness, this cheesecake has a bit of peach jam folded into the filling. You can use whatever jar of store-bought jam (even swap for a fruit other than peach) you have on hand, but if you happen to have something homemade, this is the place to use it. No jam? No worries. The cake will be just as satisfying without it, especially when topped with a scoop of fresh peaches that have been macerated in a bit of brown sugar and vanilla.
It’s important to give this cheesecake at least six hours in the refrigerator to set, but feel free to chill it overnight if you prefer—plus, it’ll hold up for three days in the fridge. Make the cake ahead of time and pull it out of the fridge at just the moment your dinner companions find themselves ready for dessert. Top it with fresh macerated peaches (or another fruit tossed with a bit of lemon and sugar); in a pinch, try a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or cardamom and flaky salt—or leave it nude, I won’t tell.