Happy almost holiday weekend!
I currently have this cheesecake in my freezer and am trying not to think about it because it was so creamy and delicious and totally perfect for celebrating the 4th of July and Wednesdays (ie: when I photographed it).
I thought it would be fun to make a cold and creamy treat to enjoy this weekend that’s festive but not super heavy on red and blue food coloring. I don’t really have anything against food coloring, but it’s also not my favorite thing ever. It’s hard to get really solid colors without turning your mouth those colors as well. So for this cheesecake, we rely on some fresh summer berries to do the heavy lifting (and also some delicious flavoring) and just add a dab of food coloring to boost the colors a little bit.
While oh so delicious and perfect for the heat wave most people seem to be experiencing, this cheesecake is a little involved (it’s easy, just a lot of steps!) so I’ve included a couple of different ways to achieve the red and blue layers.
Method one – homemade compotes:
This is the way I did the cheesecake photographed here! The red layer is flavored and colored with a homemade strawberry-raspberry compote, and the blue layer is a blueberry-blackberry compote. Then I added a little bit of red gel food coloring to the red layer, but didn’t mind it looking more natural and not a true red. Same with the blue layer.
Without the food coloring, the red layer is a pale pink and the blue layer is definitely more purple. If you don’t want to fool with food coloring at all, leave it out! You definitely don’t have to use it to enjoy this cheesecake! But just for reference, I used the Wilton gel food coloring in Red Red and Sky Blue. The first one is the only red that was at the store when I went and I already had the sky blue at home. (And it worked much better than a darker blue I tried first.)
The compotes add tons of flavor that really shine through in this cheesecake. Like a firework. In your mouth. Flavor-wise.
The drawback is they’re a little time consuming (you can totally make them in advance!) and require you to mess up a few pots and a blender. I pureed the berries first, poured them into a saucepan on the stove, added some cornstarch, and cooked them down to a jam-liked consistency. This is my favorite way to do things lately apparently (see the Strawberry Layer Cake I posted earlier this week!) and I think it’s totally worth it here!
You can also do the red layer all strawberries and leave out the raspberries, and do all blueberries for the blue layer and leave out the blackberries. It’s really up to you! As long as you start out with three cups of berries for each compote, you’ll be golden!
Method two – store-bought jams or preserves
Full disclaimer – I haven’t tried this method. I just wanted to provide some options! I used 1 cup of compote for each of the colored layers, so I imagine 1 cup of strawberry jam or blueberry/blackberry/berry combo preserves will be a decent substitute. I have no idea how the colors will turn out, so you may need more or less food coloring to get the desired hue!
Method three – freeze dried berries
A third option that I have not tried but did seriously consider is using freeze dried berries that have been ground into a powder in a food processor. In the Strawberry Layer Cake I posted earlier this week, I did this with the frosting and it was incredible. Again, not sure how the colors would turn out, so have some food coloring on standby.
With some whipped cream and fresh berries on top, this cheesecake would be a stunner at your 4th of July festivities this weekend! It’s fruity, it’s creamy, it’s cold. What more could you want right now!? It checks all the boxes in my book-of-things-I-like-to-bake-in-the-summer. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
No-Bake Red White, and Blue Cheesecake
- 1 ½ cups graham crumbs
- 6 tbsp butter melted
Strawberry Raspberry Compote
- 2 cups strawberries
- 1 cup raspberries
- ½ cup water
- 2 tsp cornstarch
Blueberry Blackberry Compote
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 cup blackberries
- ½ cup water
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 2 8-oz blocks cream cheese
- 1 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- Red gel food coloring
- Blue gel food coloring
To make the crust:
- Stir together graham crumbs and butter until all crumbs are evenly coated. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. (Line the inside of the pan with a piece of parchment or acetate to help the finished cheesecake come out of the pan easier.)
To make the Strawberry Raspberry Compote:
- Puree strawberries and raspberries together in a blender. Press through a mesh sieve and discard seeds and solids. Pour puree into a medium-sized saucepan. Whisk together water and cornstarch and add to pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes. Cook until jam-like in consistency and there’s about 1 cup of mixture. Let cool completely before using.
To make the Blueberry Blackberry Compote:
- Puree blueberry and blackberry together in a blender. Press through a mesh sieve and discard seeds and solids. Pour puree into a medium-sized saucepan. Whisk together water and cornstarch and add to pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes. Cook until jam-like in consistency and there’s about 1 cup of mixture. Let cool completely before using.
To make the Cheesecake Filling:
- In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese and Greek yogurt with an electric mixer until smooth and there are no lumps. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Mix on medium speed until all ingredients are incorporated.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or another bowl) fitted with the whisk attachment, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold half of whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Repeat with second half of whipped cream.
- Divide the cheesecake filling into three bowls. Stir the Strawberry Raspberry Compote into one bowl, the Blueberry Blackberry Compote into the second bowl, and leave the third bowl plain.
- The Strawberry Raspberry filling will be a pale pink and the Blueberry Blackberry filling will be a purplish color. Stir a dab of gel food coloring into each (red to the Strawberry Raspberry and blue to the Blueberry Blackberry) until the desired color is reached. If you don’t want to fool with food coloring, you can skip this step!
- Spoon the Strawberry Raspberry filling over the graham crust in the springform pan; smooth with a rubber spatula. (I also tilted the pan around and shook it very gently to help the filling flatten out.) Place the other two fillings in the refrigerator. Freeze the springform pan for about 30 minutes (or until firm enough that you can touch it without it leaving much of an indentation).
- Repeat with the plain filling layer and freeze. And finally, repeat with the Blueberry Blackberry filling and freeze until completely firm, 3-4 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, let cheesecake thaw in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes, or thaw at room temperature about 10-15 minutes. Use a warm knife to cut slices and serve with whipped cream and additional berries if desired.
- Store covered in the freezer.
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