The rosemary in this cake is a whisper, not a shout, so before you think you’re going to be getting mouthfuls of pine, don’t panic.
Cheesecake (and I’m still unable to say it without thinking of Peter Kay) is just one of those basic examples of why the classics just are what they are. I mean… doesn’t mean they’re not rife to be riffed upon, but as a concept, some sweet yet tangy and cloudy yet robust, cheesecake will always remain the same. It’s dense, creamy cheese slapped on top of a crumbly, salty sweet base. And that to me, will always sound like poetry.
While I did take a slight liberty with the addition of rosemary here, which you will thank me for because it adds such a hint of round, fresh, woodsy sweetness, which goes with the pale sweetness of cream cheese and sharp puncture of lemon, the rest if pretty much what you would expect and want from a cheesecake.
However, and I have to caveat this recipe with a disclaimer, it is not the scenic route you may expect from a cheesecake. There’s no water bath, there’s no baking, there’s no leaving the oven door open a crack – there’s just plain ol’ mixing, pouring, and setting in the fridge.
I was hesitant to put ‘No Bake’ in the title, because it would imply that any other cheesecake I cook is baked and alas, they never are. I just can’t bring myself to do it. But if you are looking to bake a cheesecake, there is a GORGEOUS recipe for Clotted Cream Basque Cheesecake over on Trevennon Dakota’s website, who is quite the genius with that sort of thing.
Before we start, a note on ingredients, for Christ’s sake, take your cream cheese out of the fridge a good hour or so before you start. No matter how much you whip, whisk, blitz, bloody churn fridge-cold cream cheese, you will never get it as soft and creamy as you want it to be. Room temperature cream cheese will always be the best here.
And a note on equipment, you can absolutely use a 9″ cake tin for these measurements, however I will always advocate for a springform when it comes to a cheesecake, because it makes releasing it from the tin so, so much easier.
Cuts into 10 slices
For the base
150g digestive biscuits
2 tablespoons soft, brown sugar
A grating fresh nutmeg
For the filling
250g soft, room temperature cream cheese
80g sour cream
150ml double cream
50g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary needles – chopped very finely
- For the base, bash the digestive into a rubble of dust and crumbs. You can either do this in a food processor, or bashed up in a Ziplock bag with a rolling pin (you may need to do it in two batches depending on the size of your bags) but either way, once your biscuits are nothing but dust and rubble, tip them into a big bowl.
- Add the sugar, a grating of fresh nutmeg, and a pinch of salt to the biscuits, and toss together with your fingers to combine.
- Zap the butter in the microwave in a small bowl, just for a couple of seconds until the butter is melted, and then pour this into the biscuit bowl. Using a spoon, stir the butter through the biscuits until it starts to resemble wet-ish sand.
- Take a 9″ fluted pie dish with a loose base, and tip the biscuit mixture into the middle. Using the back of a spoon, start pressing the biscuit mixture into the tin, coaxing the biscuits into the ridges of the tin. I like to get a metal measuring cup, and use this really flatten the inner circle of the tin, just so that it coaxes the biscuits higher into the ridges and really packs and flattens the base, creating a solid domed centre. Once this is done, pop the base in the fridge to set while you make your filling.
- In a large bowl, tip in your soft, cream cheese, sour cream, and double cream, and whisk to soften and combine. I find this so much easier to do with an electric whisk, but if you have a good forearm, and a little time and patience, have at it with a normal whisk.
- Once combined, grate in the zest of the lemon (leaving just a little bit of the lemon zest free to grate over the final product) and then halve the lemon, and squeeze in all the juice (mind the pips).
- Add the icing sugar, vanilla extract, and rosemary, and whisk again until everything is creamy, airy and thoroughly combined. Taste in case you may want to add a touch more icing sugar, or a little more lemon – your call.
- Spoon the cheesecake filling into the biscuit crust, using the back of a spoon to gently manoeuvre the cream cheese around the base, just leaving the ridges peeking out at the edges.
- Grate over a little more lemon zest, and pop the tin back in the fridge for about 4 hours or so (I find it easier to leave it overnight) before slicing and serving when you’re ready.