Friday, August 21, 2020

Peanut Butter and Jelly No Bake Cheescake

 I was provided with products from Nielsen Massey in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Summertime has always been the time of year when most of us start looking for nostalgic flavors. There's just something about the warmer weather that makes us all want to recapture our more innocent days, right? I mean... now more so than ever before, for sure. I've definitely been dreaming of the days when I could freely run through my backyard soaking wet from the pool, when I made makeshift picnics on the grass with my dogs, and when I expertly choreographed elaborate production numbers to the soundtrack of The Little Mermaid. Oh, to have that much endless energy once more...

The bad thing about trying to make nostalgic treats in the summer time is having to turn on the oven. I know the last thing I want to do when I'm already cranking my AC to the max is to add flame to the fire by turning on my oven, even if I am hard core craving brownies or chocolate chip cookies. Thank goodness for who ever invented no-bake desserts. Many of them are familiar staples of backyard BBQ's this time of year; from the lowly fruit infused Jell-O ring to the elevated trifle.

When I think of no-bake desserts, there's only one thing that comes to mind: Cheesecake. A cold, sweet, creamy dessert that can be customized in a million different ways so that you never get bored of it? Yes please! So when my friends at Nielsen-Massey Vanillas challenged me to come up with a summertime no-bake dessert, I knew I had to go with a no-bake cheesecake. But not just any no-bake cheesecake! Mine would evoke the ultimate childhood memories of summer with the single greatest flavor combination of all time: PB&J.

The secret to getting this idea to work was to find a way to flavor the cheesecake without adding extra moisture, as that would completely ruin the texture and prevent it from setting up. That was why I decided powdered flavorings were the way to go; namely powdered peanut butter and pulverized freeze dried strawberries. I was so thrilled with how both of these ingredients really came through in the end result, and the addition of the Nielsen Massey Pure Vanilla Extract to the cheesecake base really helped those flavors shine. I did decide to add a layer of actual jelly/jam, but full disclosure if you want to attempt this recipe, that decision did interrupt the structural integrity of the cake a bit. If I was to do it again, I might opt to put the jelly on top instead, as the contrast of the sweet preserves with the tart strawberry powder and the slightly salty peanut butter is utter perfection. But it was totally worth the struggle to cut a clean slice when I saw that ooey gooey jelly oozing out from the center of the cake!

Be sure to let me know if you try making this cake on your own, and also feel free to let me know your favorite childhood flavor combos in the comments below!

PB&J No Bake Cheesecake


About 2 packets of Graham Crackers, crushed into course crumbs
3/4 a cup of melted unsalted butter
a pinch of salt


3 8oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Nielsen Massey Pure Vanilla Extract
2 cups of Greek Yogurt
1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 oz of freeze dried strawberries, pulverized into a powder
(optional) about 10 oz of strawberry jam, store bought or home made 

To make the crust, put the graham crackers and salt into a small bowl. Melt the butter, then combine it with the graham cracker mixture. Quickly press the graham crackers into a non stick 10 inch spring form pan, making sure the bottom is very compact, but not too thick. Press any excess up the sides of the pan. Place the whole thing in the freezer.

To make the filling, add the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla into a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and a little fluffy. Add in the yogurt and continue to beat until everything is well incorporated. In a separate bowl, add the heavy whipping cream and whip until peaks begin to form. Split the whipped cream in half and add the peanut butter powder to one half and the strawberry powder to the other half. Whip both again to incorporate completely. Add half the cream cheese mixture to each bowl of whipped cream and fold gently to combine.

Remove the crust from the freezer. Add the peanut butter filling and smooth out the top. If doing the jelly in the middle, add it now in a even layer across the peanut butter filling. Add in the strawberry filling and smooth out the top. Cover the whole thing in plastic wrap, then leave to set in the fridge over night. 

NOTE: To get a clean slice, place the cheesecake into the freezer at least an hour before serving. Run a large knife under hot water, then use it to cut the cake. The crust is very delicate, so be prepared to scoop up crumbs. I think they look nice sprinkled on the top!

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