Hey can I tell you a secret? I just started a degree. It feels super weird to say that. I’m 25 and I just started. I’ve dabbled here and there in various Uni courses over the years, but even though I found high school easy and did pretty well, I just hated doing uni courses. Plus I was busy doing all this The Sugar Hit, you know? I’ve been writing a book, shooting photos, writing posts, styling, learning about business – all on my own. And it’s been a challenge but so damn worth it and so damn fun. But I figured I should get back on the horse, and finally get that piece of paper. So here we are, and here I am studying and with full determination to complete (this time) a Bachelor’s of Design.
I am incredibly, intensely stoked about it, and even though it’s week one and I’m already behind (the first task was due TWO DAYS IN, WTF?) I think I’m going to do well. I just went and dropped a cool couple of hundred bucks on art supplies (paper and charcoal and whatnot), so I’d better. I was in something of a rush to grab those supplies because of the tight schedule mentioned above, so I raced out of the house when I had a spare moment and didn’t think about what I had on.
Then as I was walking briskly back to my car (having paid for only the smallest possible parking window and not wanting to get a ticket) I caught a glimpse of myself reflected in a shop window. Black jeans with busted knees, white cons, a white tee, black leather jacket and black wayfarers – I almost laughed out loud at just how much I looked like an art student. And then I realised I AM an art student! And then I really did laugh. The point of all this is just to say, this is a new chapter of my life and I’m happy about it.
But back to this food filled, delicious, ongoing chapter of my life – entirely spontaneously I seem to have fallen into a Christmas in July theme. I just couldn’t help it! First I made this ridiculously Christmassy Dutch Baby, and now this! I think it might have something to do with the fact that I watched nothing but hours of Nigella Christmas Specials over the weekend, while cramming handfuls of Hipster Crackerjack into my mouth. However it happened, this No Bake Raspberry Cheesecake with Amaretti Crust popped into my head, and as soon as I dreamed it, I had to have it. The amaretti cookie crust, the creamy, no-bake filling, the quick, bright rudolph’s-nose-red raspberry topping, it’s a straight up delight, this cheesecake. And it’s Christmassy not just in appearance and insomuch as I always think of amaretti cookies as a Christmas food, it’s also incredibly easy and incredibly crowd-pleasing.
And being those two things – easy and delightful to all – is what Christmas desserts are all about. Of course there are always those things which take time, the Christmas puddings and cakes and cut-out cookies, but those things are activities in and of themselves. Rituals of the Christmas season, if you will. All the other desserts exist merely to bring pleasure and joy to the dark months (or miserably hot months, if you’re in Australia) of the year. This cheesecake is no different and I will happily eat it while I binge watch all the Christmas-themed Charlie Brown I can get my hands on.
What’s your week shaping up to look like? And tell me about your Uni experience, I’m dying to know!
- 200g/7oz amaretti cookies (crunchy ones)
- 3oz (75g) butter, soft
- ¼ cup (35g) plain flour
- ¼ cup (50g) caster sugar (or granulated sugar)
- 375g (13oz) cream cheese, at room temp
- ⅓ cup (40g) icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 cup (250ml) thickened cream
- 2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- To make the crust, preheat the oven to 180C, and grease and line a 7in/18cm springform pan.
- Place all the ingredients for the crust into a food processor and blitz into a fine, sandy crumb. If you pick some up and squeeze it, it should stick together easily.
- Tip the mixture into the lined pan, and press it evenly over the base and up the sides. Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly darker in colour - it may feel a little soft, still, but it crisps up as it cools. Set aside to cool completely.
- To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon until smooth. Whip the cream to soft peaks and then fold into the cream cheese mixture (it's quite thick, so don't worry about losing too much air - just get it in there). Transfer the filling the cooled cheesecake base and smooth out the top. Place in the fridge to set for at least 30-40 minutes.
- To make the topping, place about a third of the raspberries, with the sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over a low heat, smushing the berries with the back of a spoon, until you have a quite liquidy raspberry sauce. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl. Fold through the remaining berries, which should drop the temperature down to room temp (or cold, if they're frozen). Spread the cool mix on top of the cheesecake, and you're ready to serve!