Envisioning a Greek yogurt cheesecake

From the moment I tried Greek yogurt, I was spoiled for no other. Its firm, creamy, rich texture makes other yogurts seem watery, loose and bland by comparison. Eating a honey-flavored Greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries one evening, my friend and longtime collaborator pronounced, “This would make a great cheesecake. You need to make this into a cheesecake!”

He had a point. If you’ve ever eaten the creamy indulgence of Greek yogurt, you will taste something that is like a cousin to the cheesecake, one of our most decadent desserts. I could turn Greek yogurt into a cheesecake, I thought, with a few easy turns of the wheel.

I’ve made a number of cheesecakes, copping to convenience with the no-bake mixes and going traditional with a thick, 10-inch beauty made of eggs and pounds of cream cheese that baked slowly in a water bath. I’ve made chocolate cheesecakes with chocolate wafer crusts and pumpkin cheesecakes with gingersnap crusts.

I do consider a cheesecake more of a pie, thus making it a selection for my monthly project. There is debate on whether a cheesecake is really a cheesecake if it is not baked. The baked versions draw grimaces from some. Depending on how they come out, their consistency can be dry, mealy and pasty. For my Greek yogurt cheesecake, I opted for a no-bake cheesecake rendition, which uses unflavored gelatin to set the texture. Maybe it’s not purist, but I wanted something cool, creamy and smooth.

I tweaked a recipe for no-bake cheesecake that I found on the Mountain High Yoghurt (not Greek) website. I found that using a sweetened version (honey-flavored) of The Greek Gods Greek yogurt worked very well in this recipe. I also used whipped cream cheese (this was a happy accident, as it is the cream cheese my longtime friend and collaborator came home with from the grocery store), added some honey, vanilla and lemon zest for flavor and filled a pre-made graham cracker crust. It is one delectable cheesecake, silky smooth and delicately flavored. I have made it both as a large pie and small tartlets. I’ve topped it with lemon curd, apricot sauce, stewed and fresh berries. It never disappoints. Go Greek…you won’t be sorry.

Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
Makes one 8-inch pie

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¼ boiling water
1 12-ounce carton whipped cream cheese at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1-1/2 cup honey flavored yogurt (recommended, The Greek Gods)
1 prepared 8-inch graham cracker crust

In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water. Blend cream cheese, sugar, honey, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth with an electric mixer in a glass bowl. Fold in yogurt. Stir gelatin and fold into cream cheese/yogurt mixture until well mixed, pour into pie crust. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours – best if made the day before it is served. Top with your favorite toppings – fruit or chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, fresh fruit, lemon curd, etc.

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