Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nutella Swirl No-bake Cheesecake

Back in the beginning of the month it was my lovely cousin's twentieth birthday and we had, as per usual, a big family celebration. For most family occasions, I am given free reign over what kind of dessert to make and my cousin's only request was for something either with chocolate or nutella. I decided to include both, though mostly focusing on the nutella with this no-bake cheesecake.

Funny enough, even though I consider myself to be quite the cheesecake expert having baked dozens over the years, I have only recently started to foray into the world of no-bake cheesecakes. It all started with the mini peanut butter cheesecakes I made a few months ago when my friends came over. Since then, I have come to the realization that there are many flavor combinations I have yet to explore in the no-bake category which makes me quite excited because I now have a whole new world of cheesecake possibilities open to me.

With this cake in particular, I tried to model it somewhat after the pecan pie cheesecake I made for my own birthday, except I made a chocolate ganache layer with chopped hazelnuts over the crust rather than a caramel layer with pecans. The result, however, did not turn out quite as I anticipated as the ganache froze and became difficult to cut into. Since the cake was set in the freezer and not baked like the previous cheesecake, I had not taken that into account.

Also, to make this cake I adapted the recipe from the mini peanut butter cheesecakes but substituted nutella in for the peanut butter. Unfortunately, I don't think my proportions translated well when I converted the recipe from "mini" form into one big ten inch cake. Since there was no gelatin in the cake and it relied purely on whipped cream to give it structure, the resulting cheesecake was very soft, almost like ice cream. Everyone in my actually loved this "soft serve" texture but I wish it had a little more shape to it. I tried to keep it in the freezer as long as possible, transferring it to the fridge mere hours before the party once I piped on the whipped cream topping. Still, even the six hours it spent in the fridge softened the cake and likely it would have had more structure had we eaten it straight from the freezer.

Overall, it was a good venture into the world of no-bake cheesecakes and I will continue to try out new recipes to create the perfect base cake, just as I have with my regular cheesecakes. After that, I'm confident I will truly be the cheesecake queen!

Nutella Swirl No-bake Cheesecake
Note: I think it best to omit the ganache/hazelnut layer from the crust since it clearly did not work for this type of cheesecake. Therefore, I have included the recipe for just a simple crust.

For the crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and then transfer to an 10" springform pan. Gently press down all along the bottom and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes.

For the cheesecake:
  • 2 blocks (16 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup nutella
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  1. Whip the heavy cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy with soft peaks. Set aside in the fridge.
  2. Beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed for a few minutes, until whipped and smooth.
  3. Turn down the speed to low and beat in the sugar. Increase the speed and continue mixing for a few minutes until well mixed.
  4. Divide the batter in half. To one half, beat in the nutella until completely smooth and incorporated. 
  5. Using a spatula, gently fold the half the whipped cream into the plain batter and the other half into the nutella batter. Make sure all of the whipped cream is incorporated but try not to overmix so that it keeps its airiness. 
  6. Pour half the nutella batter into the pan over the crust. Carefully spoon half of the plain batter in small dollops over top. Use a thin spatula or knife to swirl the two mixtures. Repeat the process and swirl again.
  7. Put the pan in the freezer for at least four hours, though preferably overnight. Touch the top of the cake to make sure it is solid before removing from the pan and transferring to the fridge.
For the whipped cream topping:
Note: The topping is completely optional. I made stabilized whipped cream and then piped it in a circular pattern across the top. However because the whipped cream cannot be frozen, the cake had to be returned to the fridge rather than the freezer. If you will be wanting to serve the cake much later, I suggest skipping the topping and simply serving the cake as is from the freezer.
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 4 tsp cold water
  1. In a small pan, combine the gelatin and cold water and let it stand for a minute until thick.
  2. Place the pan over low heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin dissolves. 
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside so that it cools to room temperature, but do not let it set.
  4. Meanwhile, start whipping the cream on low speed. Once bubbles start to form, add the powdered sugar and vanilla and increase the speed slightly.
  5. Slowly pour in the gelatin while continuing to whip the cream. If the gelatin has set, place it briefly over the heat to loosen it again, however make sure it is not hot when adding it to the cream as it will set upon contact with the cold cream and create chunks.
  6. Once all the gelatin has been added, increase the speed to high and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
  7. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a decorative nozzle and pipe in any design across the top of the cake. Once finished, return the cake to the fridge until ready to serve. 

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