I was recently asked if I would like to test out a few recipes designed by Tana Ramsay for Nestle, which looked at ways of including more whole grains in your diet by cooking with their cereals. When I received the recipes, one particularly innovative idea stood out, a lemon cheesecake that used crushed Cheerios as the base.
The cheesecake is a no bake cheesecake and yet does not include gelatin like a lot of no bake cheesecakes, instead it relies on lemons to help thicken and set the creamy top layer. As both a Vegetarian and a lemon lover this was ideal for me.
I crushed the Cheerios with a bag and a rolling pin and this produced a mixture of crumbs and cereal pieces which I think gave a nice rocky appearance to the base. The lemon topping was very quick and simple to put together and within half an hour my cheesecake was chilling in the fridge. My only concern at this stage was that the filling was very soft and I had images of it oozing over the counter when I released it from the tin.
The next day, I cautiously removed the tin and found it had set firm enough to hold its shape, although was still nicely soft. I’m afraid cutting a clean slice was less easy. The Cheerio base had absorbed all the moisture form the creaming topping overnight and as a result, had become quite soft and just fell apart when I tried to remove the slice. This also made it have a spongy, slightly chewy texture of damp cereal which is not really desirable for a cheesecake. The topping however was utterly delicious. Creamy with a strong lemon flavour that helped keep it light. As an experiment I cut a slice and then put it in the freezer for 2 hours before tasting it again. This improved the base and resulted in a very pleasant semi frozen creamy lemon topping too. So if you feel the desire to use cereal as a base I suggest making it a semi frozen cheesecake to prevent it turning soft and chewy.
All in all a mixed result. That topping I would make again and maybe serve in glasses to eat on its own but I don’t think Cheerios are really cut out to be a cheesecake base, although the idea is certainly innovative. However, in terms of its ability to include more whole grains in your diet, I can’t help but wonder if the traditional digestive biscuit base doesn’t do as equally well. Some of the other recipes sound good and for more information on Tana Ramsay's recipes and Nestle's Whole Grain Initiative click here.
Tana Ramsay’s Cheerio Lemon Cheesecake
175g Nestle Cheerios
100g butter or low fat spread
400g light cream cheese
Grated zest of 4 lemons
200g fat free Greek yoghurt
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
184ml whipping cream
Whiz or crush the Cheerios until they are broken down but still remain some texture.
Melt the butter or spread and stir in the crushed cheerios. Mix until well coated and then press into the base of a 9inch/23cm springform tin. Place in the fridge to firm up.
Meanwhile beat the cream cheese, yoghurt, sugar and lemon zest until smooth.
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and then stir into the lemon mix along with the lemon juice.
Pour over the chilled base and smooth the surface. Place in the fridge to set overnight.