Friday, March 22, 2013

Cookies and Cream Icebox Cheesecake

Cookies and Cream Icebox Cheesecake

Living overseas, I was always excited to come across something that reminded me of home.  Across the street from the teachers' apartment buildings and the student dormitories was a little convenience store where we were sure to find plenty of Chinese junk food - crackers, red bean ice cream and orange vanilla popsicles, a few packaged baked goods and sandwiches (there was some kind of packaged "hamburger" made of mystery meat that I would not recommend trying for what might seem like obvious reasons...), and at least 30 varieties of instant noodles - but it was the chocolate and the Oreos that I craved, simply because they were so familiar.

Cookies and Cream Icebox Cheesecake

Dove chocolate bars, Oreos, Coke and Sprite could almost always be found, but cheese, quality peanut butter, chips and most processed American foods were a lot harder to come by.  And since I didn't bake much at the time, other than occasional batches of soft-as-butter peanut butter cookies, I ate the dark chocolate hazelnut bars and Oreos whenever I wanted something sweet.

An Oreo's best friend is a cold glass of milk, and I won't eat them on their own without it since I adore the way they get completely soft after soaking up the milk, but not so soggy that they break off while dipping and fall to the bottom.

Cookies and Cream Icebox Cheesecake

With these cookies on my mind, I impulsively made a cheesecake.  This pretty black and white cheesecake is surprisingly easy to make, since I baked only the crust not the filling, and thickened the lightly sweetened filling with a little unflavored gelatin before letting it finish thickening in the refrigerator (hence the name "icebox" cheesecake).

If you've never ruined a cheesecake before by water from the water bath leaking into the foil wrapped around your spring form pan while the cheesecake was baking, then you're lucky.  This has happened to me...  more than once.  But with this icebox cheesecake, there's no such fear, and you're guaranteed to have beautiful results.

It not only looked beautiful but tasted so creamy and light, not too sweet, full of crushed cookies.  It was like cookies and cream ice cream in a cheesecake.

Cookies and Cream Icebox Cheesecake

Cookies and Cream Icebox Cheesecake

·         15 Oreos, including the filling, finely crushed
·         ½ teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
·         4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

·         1 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream
·         1 envelope unflavored gelatin
·         ½ cup powdered sugar
·         2 eight-ounce packages cream cheese (1 pound total), room temperature
·         2 teaspoons vanilla
·         Remaining Oreos from the package (reserving 4-5 for the garnish) roughly chopped

Bake the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350.  In a bowl combine the crushed Oreos, salt and melted butter, then press firmly into the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch spring form pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely.  (Turn off the oven, as only the crust is baked.)

Make the Filling:
Pour ¼ cup cream into a small microwave-safe bowl.  Stir in the gelatin and let stand for 5 minutes.  Microwave on high for approximately 30 seconds to dissolve the gelatin.

With an electric mixer, whip the remaining cream and sugar until soft peaks form.  Add the cream cheese and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the gelatin mixture until combined.  Gently fold in the chopped Oreos.  Be careful not to overmix the filling after you add the Oreos, or the crumbs will turn the filling gray, instead of the nice black and white contrast.

Immediately spread the filling over the cooled crust, cover with plastic and refrigerate for several hours, until set.  If desired, top with whipped cream before garnishing with the reserved Oreos (I just cut 4 Oreos in half and placed the 8 halves around the cake, scattering the crumbs lightly over the whipped cream).

Yields 8-10 slices.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen