Icebox Cheesecake with Fresh Cherry Topping
Cool off this summer with a refreshing icebox dessert topped with the season’s finest, local Northwest cherries.
This post is sponsored by New Seasons Market
Icebox cheesecakes are delicious and ideal to prepare during the hot summer months. Unlike New York-style cheesecakes which are dense and firm, our icebox version is creamy, smooth, and light. The crust just needs a little baking time in the oven, but the remaining work is done in your refrigerator.
A few tips before beginning this recipe: First, you must use fully room temperature cream cheese. I like to cut my cream cheese into 1″ cubes, place it on a plate, and set it on the counter for at least two hours before mixing. If your cream cheese is not at full room temperature your cake will have lumps no matter how much you mix it. Second, this icebox dessert needs 24 hours to set in the refrigerator. Plan accordingly as the filling takes time to set.
Finally, the best-tasting topping begins with the finest cherries that you can find. I keep in close contact with the produce department at my local New Seasons Market and check often to see when Washington cherries will arrive. New Seasons has a long-term partnership with Maryhill-brand cherries (Goldendale, WA) and these plump, sweet flavor bombs have finally arrived in stores. The finest cherries will yield the most delicious topping for your dessert.
Special equipment needed: 9″ springform pan, stand mixer with whip and paddle attachments, cherry pitter
Icebox Cheesecake with Fresh Cherry Topping
9 whole graham crackers
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
1 pound cream cheese, fully softened to room temperature and cut into small pieces
Zest from one lemon, plus 2 tbsp of the juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
2 lbs fresh, local cherries, washed, stemmed, and pitted
1/4 cup sugar, adjusting to taste depending on how sour or sweet the cherries are
1 tsp vanilla extract
strip of lemon peel, optional
For the crust:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. In food processor, pulse crackers and sugar until finely ground.
Transfer crumbs to a bowl, drizzle with melted butter, and mix with a spatula until mixture is thoroughly moistened throughout (consistency of wet beach sand).
Using hands, press crumb mix onto the bottom of a 9″ springform pan. Pack firmly. Bake until fragrant and lightly brown, about 12 minutes. Remove crust from oven and allow to cool completely before filling.
For the filling:
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cream in a glass measuring cup and allow gelatin to soften, about five minutes. Microwave mixture until it is bubbling around the edges and gelatin dissolves. About 20 seconds. Set measuring cup on counter top and whisk to combine.
Using stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip remaining 1 1/4 cups cream and sugar on medium-low speed until foamy, about one minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 1 to 3 minutes.
Switch attachment to paddle, reduce speed to medium-low, add room temperature, softened cream cheese, and beat until combined, about one minute, scraping down bowl at least one time. Add lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and continue to beat, about one minute. Scrape bowl at least one more time again to ensure everything is combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until smooth, about three minutes. Add dissolved gelatin mixture and lemon zest and continue to beat until smooth and airy, about two minutes.
Pour filling into crust and spread into even layer with a spatula.
Wrap cheesecake tightly with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for 24 hours until set.
To unmold cake, wrap a hot, damp dishtowel around pan and let stand for one minute. Run a thin knife around edge of pan and loosen springform pan. Slide cheesecake onto serving platter.
Top cheesecake with cherry topping just before serving.
For the cherry topping:
Place cherries in a large stainless steel pot and stir in sugar and optional lemon peel. Turn the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, lifting the lid and stirring them frequently, to encourage juicing and to make sure the liquid the cherries exude doesn’t foam up and overflow. Cherries should look wilted and completely cooked through.
The cherry topping can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can be frozen for up to one year.
Recipe modified from the The America’s Test Kitchen