Scare your friends and serve delicious brains on Halloween. This no-bake strawberry cheesecake made from plastic molds looks real. Add “blood” fruit syrup and you’ve got the spookiest dessert in town.
Level: Intermediate Total: 5 hr (includes chilling and freezing times) Active: 40 min Yield: 8 servings
Graham Cracker Crust:
1 sleeve graham crackers (9 whole crackers)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch fine salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin (from two and a half 1/4-ounce packages)
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch fine salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups heavy cream
Bright red gel food coloring, for coloring the cheesecake
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Nonstick cooking spray, for the mold
Special equipment: a plastic 9.75-by-8.5-by-4-inch (7-cup) brain-shaped gelatin mold
1. For the graham cracker crust: Pulse the graham crackers, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a food processor until crumbs form. Drizzle in the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the food processor.
2. For the cheesecake: Whisk the gelatin into 1/3 cup warm water and let sit until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Pulse the cream cheese in the food processor until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Then add the granulated sugar, vanilla, salt, lemon juice and softened gelatin. Pulse until completely smooth. With the food processor running, add the heavy cream and enough food coloring to make the batter a light pink. Process until combined.
4. For the strawberry syrup: Combine the strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer and simmer until the berries are very soft but still holding their shape. Strain the syrup, transfer the berries to a small bowl and chill. Return the syrup to the saucepan and continue cooking until thickened, about 10 minutes. Chill the syrup until ready to use.
5. Coat a plastic 9.75-by-8.5-by-4-inch (7-cup) brain-shaped gelatin mold generously with nonstick cooking spray. Pour half of the cheesecake batter into the mold, swirling the batter to cover all sides of the mold. Freeze for 5 minutes to let the batter thicken. Using the back of a spoon, spread the batter up the sides so there is a 1/2-inch-thick coating around the entire mold. Freeze for 10 minutes to set the batter.
6. Add the strawberries to the center of the mold. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the strawberry syrup over the strawberries. Evenly spread the remaining batter over the berries, pressing the batter into the mold to fill any gaps. Top with the graham cracker crumbs, pressing to create a firm crust. Place the cheesecake in the freezer until the sides are very firm and almost frozen, about 2 hours. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours before serving.
7. To unmold the cheesecake: First, carefully place the mold briefly into a bowl of hot water, then run a small offset spatula around the edge of the mold to help release the cheesecake from the sides. Invert onto a plate and poke small holes in the mold with a paring knife to help release the cheesecake from the mold. Carefully pull off the mold. Top the brain with the remaining strawberry syrup.
Additional: 3 hrs Total: 3 hrs 30 mins Prep: 30 mins Servings: 12 Yield: 1 9×11-inch pan
The fact that you can make this lovely, sweet treat without turning on the oven might be enough to make you think about it. In addition to the flavor and light mousse texture, I think your guests will love the signature stars and stripes design of fresh blueberries and strawberries.
1 ½ cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup mascarpone cheese at room temperature
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup white sugar
1 ¼ cups cold heavy whipping cream
20 large fresh strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise, or as needed
24 large fresh blueberries, or as needed
Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and melted butter in a bowl until mixture is thoroughly combined and crumbly.
Transfer crust mixture to a 9×11-inch baking dish. Press crust into bottom of dish until smooth and even. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
Mix cream cheese and mascarpone cheese in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract into mixture.
Whisk 1/3 cup sugar into whipping cream in a separate metal or glass bowl until the cream is fluffy and forms soft peaks. Add whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and gently whisk until filling is soft, fluffy, and well combined.
Spoon filling on top of the graham cracker crust, spreading and smoothing the top. Tap the pan gently on a work surface several times to settle the crust and filling. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 3 hours.
Starting at the bottom long edge of the cake, arrange strawberry halves in a horizontal line with the pointed bottoms of the strawberry halves pointing to the right. Start a second stripe of strawberry halves at the top right of the cake, arranging strawberries with the bottoms pointing right in a line stretching about 2/3 of the length of the cake.
Continue to make strawberry stripes, starting about 3/4 inch up from the bottom stripe and laying down 3 more stripes stretching the full length of the cake. Make 1 more line of strawberries beneath the short stripe to leave a square space for the blue field of stars.
Lay a line of blueberries with the blossom ends pointing up in the upper left square space. Continue to lay down blueberries in lines, berries touching the previous line, until the square is filled with blueberries. Cut cake into squares to serve.
Per Serving: 381 calories; protein 4.5g; carbohydrates 22.4g; fat 31.6g; cholesterol 93.8mg; sodium 181.6mg.
When you’ve got someone in your household that is allergic to dairy, eggs, and nuts finding treats for them can be very challenging. Most ready made snacks contain at least one or more of these allergens or are made in a facility that uses these ingredients. So really the best solution is to make homemade snacks, that way you know they’re allergen free. That’s pretty much what we do for my grandson Jett. And one of his favorite snacks are Vegan Rice Krispy Treats.
We used to make a vegan and non-vegan versions of the same snacks, but that just got too tedious. Then we discovered that the other kids will happily eat the Vegan Rice Krispy Treats so we just started making the vegan version.
Really you can convert most of your recipes into a vegan version, just find substitutes for animal products. The hardest thing to sub in my opinion are eggs, but since the original recipe for rice krispy treats don’t require eggs any way Vegan Rice Krispy Treats are the perfect choice to start with.
The recipe for these treats have just 3 ingredients rice krispy cereal, marshmallows, and butter. Easy enough to substitute right? Well it should be as long as you can get your hands on vegan marshmallows. What? You thought marshmallows were already vegan? Surely you jest!
First of all one of the ingredients in marshmallows is gelatin, and gelatin is an animal product. Don’t ask me to go into details, but if you don’t believe me ask Siri or Alexa. Anyway there are vegan marshmallows in the market, you just got to find some! The most popular ones seem to be Dandies Vegan Marshmallows, we use the mini ones for Vegan Rice Krispy Treats, I find they melt better and faster than regular sized marshmallows.
Ok we got the vegan marshmallows now we need to find a substitute for the butter, now butter is definitely an animal product, but you knew that right? There are several brands to choose from, we use Earth Balance.
Now that’s 2 out of 3 we got substitutes for, now for the good news. Rice Krispy cereal is Vegan! Yaaay! We’re ready to roll!
What you need to make Vegan Rice Krispy Treats:
3 Tbs Earth Balance Buttery Spread or any brand of Vegan Butter
4 Cups Vegan Marshmallows
6 Cups Rice Krispy Cereal
And here’s how to make your Vegan Rice Krispy Treats
Melt butter in a large pot over low heat
Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted
Remove from heat and stir in cereal
Spread evenly in to a 9×13 pan that’s been coated with your vegan butter
Let cool then cut into squares
Store left overs in air tight containers
Did you know that there are seasonal Rice Krispy cereals? Yes there are! It’s the same cereal, they just mix in seasonal colors like red and green kernels for Christmas. So if you’re making holiday treats look out for the seasonal cereals to make your Vegan Rice Krispy Treats more fun!