Thick, luscious, silky cheesecake, no oven required. The hardest part of this no-bake dessert is browning the butter for the crust...and refraining from eating the filling straight out of the bowl (no judgment if you sneak a spoonful, we won't tell). The tahini lends a delicate nuttiness and subtle bitter note that tames the richness of the cream cheese, while a double dose of LAFAZA vanilla (both the beans and extract) perfumes the cheesecake with a lingering, fragrant sweetness.
As far as toppings go, this cheesecake is a choose-your-own-adventure garnish situation. We love it doused with caramel sauce (store-bought is fine!) and chopped toasted pistachios, but it would be equally delicious with chocolate sauce and hazelnuts. Or, go for something lighter and brighter and top it with macerated stone fruit or berries.
Recipe, food styling and photography by Asha Loupy
Line the bottom of a quarter sheet pan or a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
To make the crust, place the broken cookies in a food processor and blend until very fine, about the texture of sand. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of cookie crumbs. Transfer the cookie crumbs to a medium bowl, add the sugar and pinch of salt and mix to combine. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter, stirring often, until it foams and then browns, about 4-6 minutes. Transfer the hot browned butter to the cookie crumb mixture and stir until the crumbs are fully coated in butter and the sugar starts to dissolve, about one minute. Turn out the buttered crumbs onto your reserved parchment-lined baking sheet and gently spread them into an even layer. Using your hands or the bottom of flat-bottomed cup, press the filling down, compressing it into a crust. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
While the crust is chilling, make the filling. Combine the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, tahini, vanilla extract and pinch of salt in a large bowl. Split the vanilla bean down the middle. Using the back of a paring knife, scrape the seeds out of the center of the bean and add to the cream cheese tahini mixture. Save the outer vanilla bean for another use, like flavoring sugar, grinding with coffee or making your own vanilla extract.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese tahini mixture on medium high until smooth and fluffy, about 2-4 minutes. Add a third of the heavy whipping cream and continue to beat until incorporated and the mixture starts to lighten up. Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the heavy whipping cream. Once all the heavy cream is incorporated, beat the mixture for another minute until it is thick, yet light and airy.
To assemble the cheesecake, remove the crust from the refrigerator. Dollop the cheesecake filling over the crust, and then using an offset spatula or spoon, gently spread the filling in an even layer over the crust. Using the spatula or spoon, make some swooshes on the surface of the cheesecake (this will create little nooks and crannies for the garnishes and who doesn’t love a good swoosh?). Refrigerate the cheesecake until chilled and set, about 2-4 hours.
To garnish the cheesecake, artfully drizzle your choice of sauce over the cheesecake and finish with a sprinkling of your desired embellishment (nuts, chocolate shavings, the world is your sprinkle!). Serve chilled. Cutting tip: for clean slices, dip a knife in hot water and dry with a towel and then cut the cheesecake with the warm, dry knife.