By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
"I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: try to please everybody." - Herbert Bayard Swope
Thirty years ago, I baked a no-bake cheesecake. It worked, sort of. I recall it had a few lumps (I didn't have a mixer) but it tasted good. I pleased my friends because they wanted a second slice. Yesterday I went to work to try and recreate history and make it better--more natural--to please the big world of cyber foodies. This new, improved cheesecake would be an Italian-New Zealand creation (these countries use different cheeses and the no-bake cheesecakes aren't dry). I had purchased the good for you ingredients--good stuff--to make it natural, healthy and tasty. In theory it should have worked well. But challenge after challenge happened and if I was cooking this cheesecake on Food Network it would have been a mega meltdown...
I recalled my 20th century original recipe which used whipped cream and cream cheese. This time around in the 21st century I didn't want to go the artificial cream route. So, I defied the past and all others' failproof no-bake cheesecake recipes (calling for gelatin to canned milk) and took a bold, fresh alternative route. I used all-natural low-fat yogurt: lemon and vanilla; cream cheese; ricotta cheese; sour cream and sugar. After mixing it all together I put it into a pre-made low-fat graham cracker crust. (I think that jinxed me. Should have done it from scratch.) And then once in the fridge the trouble began. Hour after hour, I peeked at it. It wasn't getting firm. So, I went to the Internet. I read that others had the same woe: "Help! My no-bake cheesecake isn't setting!" I could feel their pain.
Back to the drawing board. I took the sad cheesecake soup out of the fridge and added one cup confectioners' sugar and 1/3 cup unconcentrated orange juice (no lemon juice in the house). (I even took the filling out of the pie shell and blended it well and put it back. Poor thing.) These two ingredients are supposed to help thicken the mixture. I wished I had ready made whipped cream on hand (it could have sealed the deal) but I didn't. And I wasn't in the mood to go to the store and deal with smiling checkers because I was on the verge of tears due to my doomed project.
Instead, I put the cheesecake concoction back into the freezer and read more comments on the Net. Patience. Savvy bakeresses said wait 2, 3 and up to 4 hours. At midnight, I peeked at the ailing cheesecake and it had set! It looked nice. Success! I put it back into the fridge and went to bed. I fantasized that in the morning I'd slice a piece of cheesecake, top it with coconut and slices of fresh oranges. But something during the night happened. When I woke up this morning I was welcomed with bad news. I opened the fridge. I was back to square one-- like in the film Groundhog Day. It didn't set. It flopped. My No-Bake Cheesecake failed. Whatever I did I couldn't get it right. I should have used whipped cream. Or maybe it was the mountain altitude. No matter. It's over. And now it sits in the garbage can.
Motto: Follow tried and true directions. Or, try baking a "real" cheesecake that you bake. Note to self: After my heartburn goes away, buy a slice of New York-style cheesecake. I like that kind better anyhow. (My attitude reminds me of the unforgettable fable Fox and the Grapes--"It is easy to despise what you cannot get.")