A fuss-free take on cheesecake. Instead of creating an egg-based custard, which you stick in the oven, only to cross your fingers (and toes!) that it doesn’t crack or dry out, this recipe ditches the oven entirely. Cream cheese, ricotta, and sugar are all that’s needed for the filling. The crumb crust, meanwhile, starts with pretzels—not graham crackers—for a salty-malty twist. Both set up in the fridge, which means you and your kitchen can stay cool. Serve with sugared berries or jam. —Emma Laperruque
6 hours 30 minutes
1 (8-inch) cheesecake
1 1/2 cups
super-fine pretzel crumbs
(1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
full-fat cream cheese, at a cool room temperature
Get an 8” springform pan ready: The removable bottom has a rimmed border; when you lock the latch, make sure the rim is facing downward, so the cake is easier to serve.
Make the pretzel crust: Combine the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine. Add the melted butter and mix again, until crumbs are evenly saturated. Dump the mixture into the springform pan, then use a measuring cup (¼ cup works nicely) to pat the crumbs into a thin, even crust (it should go up the sides of the pan, but not all the way). Stick the crust in the freezer for at least 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
Make the filling: Use a knife or your hands to break up the cream cheese block into smaller pieces (they don’t have to be perfect—this just gives the stand mixer a head start). Combine the cream cheese, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Start on low speed, then gradually increase to high, and beat for 1 minute or so, until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the ricotta. Again, gradually increase the speed to high, then beat for about 2 minutes until very fluffy, scraping down as needed.
Pour the filling into the frozen crust and spread so the top is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
To serve, unlatch the sides, then cut into wedges. If you want to serve berries on top, you can sprinkle them on the cheesecake before or after slicing (let them hang out with a couple spoonfuls of sugar for 30 or so minutes to draw out their juices). A dollop of jam is great, too.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.