Recently I had my family all together for the first time in months. We always have a big dinner at least once when we are all together. This time my Aunt took charge of getting everything in order. The dinner was set for Saturday, and I was unaware of the need to bring anything, even though I had inquired about it to my Mom. Around 6:30 Friday evening I got a text from my Aunt asking if i could bring dessert, specifically Flan. “Well, no I can’t make flan, I actually have a job and have to work the next day. What are you crazy?” But I couldn’t show up empty handed as I now felt obligated, and there’s no way I will allow myself just to pick up some cheaply made dessert from the local grocery store. That’s a slap in the face to La Famiglia. So what do I do? It’s too late to do anything on Friday. I’m partying by now. Jump to Saturday morning. I’m feverishly browsing recipe web sites trying to find something worthy and fast. I came across a no-bake Cream Cheesecake. By no means am I trying to brag, but this was amazing. I got off work at 11:15 rushed to store, and got the ingredients. By 11:45 I was home,and by 12:05 the whole thing was complete. It does take about 4 hours to set. However, if you really don’t have time you can treat it as a mousse. Seriously?? Yep.. Do it.
16 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar
rind of 1 lemon
juice of 2 lemons
the meat of 1 vanilla bean
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp pure almond extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream
cheesecloth or coffee filters
First, whip the heavy whipping cream and set aside. Cream the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Then add the sifted sugar, and mix til it’s creamy again. Add the rind, lemon juice, extracts, and vanilla bean. Mix until incorporated. Then take the whipped cream and add about 1/3 to the mix to combine. Then add the final 2/3 and hand fold into mixture. set aside.
Line a large colander (maybe 9 inches around) with cheesecloth or if you cant find cheesecloth, use coffee filters, enough so the batter wont seep out. Put the colander over a bowl, that will allow liquid to drain. Pour the cream cheese mixture in the lined colander until it’s filled and then use a spatula to smooth over the top. Place in fridge for at least 4 hours uncovered. If there’s not enough room in the colander, eat what’s left over.
Now this is where you can get creative. You could use fresh berries to add something extra to the final product. Or maybe a compote of some sort with a dusting of graham cracker crumbs. But this is what I did based on my all-time favorite dessert.
Amaretti Cookie Crumbs:
4 oz amaretti cookies
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tsp pure almond extract
Add all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until crumbs are formed. Bake at 350º for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside.
Lemon Basil Simple Syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon
10 leaves of fresh basil
Heat water, lemon, and sugar until the sugar dissolves and liquid starts evaporating. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into blender. Add leaves and blend until leaves are pulverized. Strain into squeeze bottle.
That’s it. When you’re ready to serve, invert in cheese cake onto a serving plate and remove cloth or filters. You’ll end up with a globe of deliciousness. sprinkle the crumbs over the top and add a few drops of the syrup as a final touch. eat..
This is what it looks like when its almost gone.