When I first saw a picture of a no-bake ‘freakshake’ vanilla cheesecake on the front cover of Olive magazine (September edition), I knew I would have to make my own version for our whole family to enjoy. It would be a showstopper and it would be free from eggs, wheat and nuts. Do not even look at the recipe if you are on a diet though. This cake is not light!
I still remember the first time I tried vanilla cheesecake. That evening, I had arrived in a new house and my new landlady had offered me a slice of moreish vanilla cheesecake. How could I not fall in love with the creamy vanilla filling? It worked so beautifully with the crumbly, buttery base. I had never eaten anything like that before. I would buy the same cake pretty much every week.
I have never looked back: cheesecakes are very much part of my diet these days. I love no-bake cheesecakes, but when I was expecting my babies, I had to shoo away my cravings because of the raw eggs. If I had known I could make a no-bake cheesecake without eggs, it would have changed my pregnancies!
Now having a new egg-free recipe is always exciting, since Jumpy is allergic to eggs, wheat and nuts. The first question she invariably asks when she spots food she fancies is “Am I allowed it?” There was no way I would answer, “No, sorry sweetie” after her big sister had blown the six candles on her cake last Friday. I would make a big bad cheesecake and it would be free from nuts, eggs and wheat so she could eat just as much as she wanted.
I had my shopping delivered on Thursday, so I started making the cheesecake that night, only to realise I had forgotten to press ‘add to basket’ when I had chosen the soft cheese, aaaargh. OK, so a cheesecake with no soft cheese… Oh, and I could not find the 3 packs of marshmallows I had bough the previous week. Midnight no time to go shopping or start making a cake so I went to bed.
On Friday morning, my two little ones and I went to the corner shop to buy marshmallows and cream cheese after the school run. There was cream cheese, but it was either half-fat or flavoured with garlic and herbs. I needed full fat cheese! Luckily, I had the presence of mind to check every single tub and there were three small tubs of full fat soft cheese hiding in the back, phew! I did not finish making the cake until 11 a.m. and it was meant to be refrigerated overnight… Dear oh dear, would this vanilla cheesecake see the light of day?
So my bright, beautiful, determined, talented little Beanie turned 6 last week. When I asked her what would make her happy for her birthday, she said she wanted a party at home and a day out with Mummy. Awww, my heart might have melted.
In early September, we wrote a list of who she would like there and ended up with a list of 24 children. Bit much, but hey, their birthdays are only once a year, and most of the parents are close friends anyway, so I did not bat an eyelid or hope for non-comers when we sent the invitations. I had made a note on the invites that the parents could drop their children after school and pick them up at 6ish, so the only parents who decided to stay were comfortable enough at home to help themselves to tea and coffee. Easy, right?
In the end, we had 21 children at home and they had a brilliant time, just playing together, making a slide with mattresses on the stairs, dressing up and making dens. I had also taken a couple of things out: a kit to make bubbles, a parachute and inflatables. To be honest, all the children wanted to do was having fun all together and be left alone to play. Fine by me!
When they all got in, they came for a snack in dribs and drabs. I had pains au chocolat, biscuits and cake left over from my morning coffee with my lovely friend Anna so the children were happy. We also proceeded to make a lot of smoothies. All the children who wanted to get involved had a part in choosing the fruit, pouring the juice, peeling and smoothie-making. They were pretty proud of themselves as the end result was delicious.
The mums had a good chat, coffee and tea before we moved on to wine, bread and cheese. The only bleep there was that I had used flaxseed instead of wheatgerm in my brown bread. Never ever do that, it was vile! In fact, Hubby could not have described it better when he said my bread tasted of fish and insisted we throw it away there and then. Ha ha! In my defence, the two packs were next to each other in the cupboard and they look the same so I only realised I had picked the wrong one after the dough was ready. The bread looked the same as usual, so I thought it might taste fine. It did not. I repeat, do not use ground flaxseed instead of a cup of wheatgerm when you make wholemeal bread!
As for the children, they had crustless sandwiches, crisps, potato salad, houmous, breadsticks and cheese before an ice lolly and they could not wait to bash the piñata. Gosh there was a lot of bashing. My friend Loraine’s children are of South-American descent and you can tell: these three were ferocious when bashing the teapot piñata with a stick, but it took quite a lot of piñata molesting for it to release its treasure.
By then, it was time for the children to get their party bags and go home. We did not even have time for birthday cake, but it did not phase me: birthdays are all about the fun and fun there was! The little ones were pretty happy with their party bags (French workbook, Organix cereal bars, small pack of sweets, bubbles and lipgloss for the girls / notebook & pen for the boys).
Loraine and her three stayed a bit longer and the birthday girl had her cake. It was devoured in minutes and I loved it. You really could not tell our no-bake vanilla cheesecake had no eggs, wheat or nuts. Proud Maman moment!
With no further ado, here is the recipe:
No-Bake Vanilla Cheesecake – a ‘Free From’ Recipe!
For the cheesecake
- 200 g 'free from' digestive biscuits I use Schär
- 100 g butter melted
- 300 g white marshmallows
- 185 ml whole milk
- 450 g full fat soft cheese
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 150 ml full fat double cream whipped softly
To decorate the cheesecake
- 10 'Free from' salted pretzels we used Schär, dipped in 25g melted dark chocolate
- 1 Crunchie bar cut into pieces
Place the digestive biscuits in a sealable freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin.
Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter. Drop the mixture into the base of a 20cm springform cake tin. Place in the fridge for half an hour.
In the meantime, melt the marshmallows with the milk over a low heat. You will need to stir constantly so the mixture does not burn. Take off the heat and leave to cool for about half an hour.
Mix the soft cheese and the vanilla then add in the cooled marshmallow mix. Gently fold in the whipped cream.
Spoon the mixture on top of the biscuit base and smooth with a spatula. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours (ideally overnight).
Just before serving, gently ease the sides of the cheesecake away from the tin with the blade of a knife and carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin.
Decorate and serve.
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