I discovered this No-Bake Mascarpone Lemon Cheesecake at the Creevagh Heights B&B, during our summer vacation to western Ireland. Although I used to be partial to heavy, New York-style cheesecake, this light version has won my heart.
Creevagh Heights is a remarkable place. Surrounded by the raw beauty of County Mayo, it is a comfortable oasis that made rain just a feature of the trip, instead of an annoyance.
And speaking of rain… on our way back to Creevagh Heights one day we saw a rainbow.
How’s that for a bit of Irish luck?
Cuddling up in a big chair with my knitting, I thought about staying for weeks instead of a few nights. This was the view from our window.
Although there are restaurants in nearby towns, eating at the B&B turned out to be a better option by far. It allowed my beloved to enjoy wine with dinner, and no drive back to the B&B in the dark, on what we consider the wrong side of the road. Our hosts, Carol and Harry, prepared scrumptious meals. From a simple soup to stuffed lobster that Carol cooked just hours after fishermen brought it off their boat, the dinners were memorable.
The night she served the stuffed lobster, Carol ended the meal with this cheesecake, along with a few other sweet morsels.
I was so smitten that I asked her for the recipe. She obliged and we chatted about our favorite cookbooks. Even though I could not hope to match her presentation, I was determined to make this dessert after I got back to the States. There is no raspberry coulis magic on my version, but I did manage a candied lemon slice in the center of the cake.
The recipe is originally from BBC Good Food. That site calls it Lemon Cheesecake. I modified it slightly, upping the lemon juice to amplify the citrus flavor a bit, and adapted it for American ingredients and measurements.
Tips for Making No-Bake Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake
Use high quality ingredients. Maybe that goes without saying, but it is especially important when a dish only has 6 ingredients.
Much as I enjoy homemade mascarpone cheese (and it’s not difficult to make), this time I opted for store-bought. I’m not a shill for Trader Joe’s but their mascarpone is pretty good and it’s much less expensive than other brands. the other ingredients are pretty straightforward.
If I had my druthers, I would use Irish butter for everything, all the time. The difference between the taste of Irish butter (from grass fed cows) and “regular” American butter, is phenomenal. But I’m not made of money so Irish butter is only for special occasions. In this case I splurged and I’m glad I did.
Leave adequate time for the cake to chill. This is a great dessert for times when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare for company. But you do need to give the cake time to chill. So don’t leave it until the last minute.
Make it in the morning and let it chill during the day. Or even make it the night before.
Keep the cake well-chilled while you cut it, using a knife wiped clean after every slice. The cake cuts best well-chilled. the knife you use should be sharp and will make the cleanest cuts if you wipe it after each one. If you have room in your freezer, you can even freeze the cake for a short while just before cutting it. Just make sure you don’t freeze the cheese.
The cake involves just a few steps. Crushing the biscuits is simple.
Then you mix them with a bit of melted butter and light brown sugar.
Then you press the crumbs into the bottom of a parchment-lined 8-inch springform pan.
Next you mix the filling ingredients.
Then you simply pour the filling into the pan, even it out, and let it chill.
I won’t lie. Unmolding the cheesecake does take patience. But if you slide a sharp knife around the sides, and gently open the springform latch, you should be OK. Sliding the cake onto a platter is the last step, other than adding any optional garnish such as the candied lemon slice.
No-Bake Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake
This 6-ingredient dessert is sure to impress your family and friends. Light and citrusy, the cake is quick to prepare, with no baking or stovetop preparation required. Perfect for a festive holiday meal or gathering.
- 4 ounces Biscuits Any digestive biscuits work. About 7-10 biscuits.
- 3 & 1/2 tablespoons Unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons Light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 12+ ounces Mascarpone cheese Use just slightly more than 12 ounces, or slightly less than 1 & 1/2 cups.
- 2-3 lemons Finely zest one, then squeeze 1/2 cup (4 ounces) juice from zested lemon + 1-2 more lemons.
- 1/3 cup Superfine sugar
Lightly butter the sides of an 8-inch springform and line the bottom with parchment.
Crush the biscuits or crackers. It is easiest to do this in a plastic bag, using a rolling pin.
Mix the biscuit/cracker crumbs with the melted butter and light brown sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.
In a medium-size bowl, mix the mascarpone cheese, lemon zest and juice, and superfine sugar. until they are light and fluffy.
Put the mixture on top of the crust in the springform, even out the top and refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours.
Before unmolding the cake, run a sharp knife around the outer edge of the pan. Keep the cake well-chilled until you cut it and wipe the blade clean between cuts for the sharpest slices.
Note on biscuits - Any" digestive" as the Irish and British call them, will work, as do other barely sweet crackers. Alternatively use graham crackers or gingersnaps with less or no added sugar.
Superfine sugar, also known as bar sugar, is finer than granulated. The Irish and English use caster sugar in this recipe, which is between granulated and superfine in texture.
If you’re visiting the west coast of Ireland and venture up to County Mayo, I heartily recommend spending time at the Creevagh Heights B&B. And if you’re smart, you’ll arrange to have at least one dinner Carol prepares. Harry will give you excellent advice on the local sites and a taste of poitin if you’re so inclined.