I might have just created the creamiest ever no-bake pumpkin cheesecake recipe! It is so incredible delicious and easy that you have to try it, just have to! For Halloween I decided to go with a more dramatic, Oreo crust but it can be made with normal Digestive or Graham cracker crust too as per this recipe.
I love everything about this no-bake pumpkin cheesecake; the texture, the flavour, the design and most importantly that it comes together in literally no time with ZERO effort!
No special equipment is needed, you don’t even have to turn the oven on, how easy is that?
Dramatic Oreo crust filled with extra smooth and creamy pumpkin cream cheese mousse and decorated with spooky meringue ghosts! This No-bake Oreo cheesecake is super light and taste amazing with just the right amount of sweetness! Whether you celebrate Halloween or not, bake this!
My Top 5 Baking Tips for home bakers
- Read the recipe carefully including my tips and recommendations on how to avoid and fix typical issues during baking
- Avoid using substitutes and changing the recipe unless you are aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavour. Reducing sugar, replacing egg, using milk instead of cream, using poor quality chocolate etc. will all have an impact on your baking
- For consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is provided as an indicative figure only and might be used for less complex and large batch recipes however it is not an appropriate method for more delicate, complex pastries
- Did you know that most home ovens can significantly under or oven run? Also, oven temperature hugely drops when opening the oven door therefore it is recommended to always pre-heat the oven above the required baking temperature.
- Temperature is so important when it comes to baking and accurate oven temperature is key, can make or break any recipe. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under baked, burnt, sad looking desserts
First let’s start with some important notes regarding the ingredients of this No-bake Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe
For the crust
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. While in most of the recipes butter needs to be on room temperature and I always recommend to avoid last minute microwaving this is an exception. The butter needs to melted in the microwave. I am reducing the butter in this recipe vs my other cheesecake recipes given the filling of the Oreo filling already has extra fat content
- Biscuit base: It´s Oreo, obviously! Use full Oreos, no need to take out the filling
- Sugar: I honestly don’t think that you need extra sugar for the crust given Oreo already contains enough sugar plus it will be crunchy anyway so no sugar!
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most of the dessert recipes. Balances flavour and enhances other ingredients. This is a lovely sweet crust and I just love that extra very mild salty kick at the end
For the pumpkin cream cheese mousse
- Gelatine: It´s an odorless, tasteless and colorless thickening agent, very often used by pastry chefs particularly in mousse cakes. Powder or sheet versions are available, in my recipes I always use sheet (1,7 g / sheet), which I found easier to handle. Simple soak the gelatine sheet into cold water for a few minutes before you need them and use it according to the recipe. Please note that gelatine is derived from collagen taken from animal body parts therefore not suitable for vegetarians. Agar agar can be a good substitution for vegetarians however replacing gelatin with agar agar is not 1:1 and can only be done by reformulating the recipe slightly.
- Pumpkin: I like making my own pumpkin puree by roasting pumpkin and blend it - learn how to make home made pumpkin puree in here. One key thing to remember is that for any pumpkin dessert whether it is pie, cheesecake or cake, you will need a thick pumpkin puree that is not too watery so the flavours are intense enough and the consistency is not too wet
- Heavy cream: Also known as whipping cream, has a fat content between 36% and 40% . Use it very cold and do not substitute with vegetable based “whipping cream”. Heavy cream will make the filling extra smooth and creamy, effectively a mousse like consistency. While whipping cream you have to start on low speed then gradually increase. Once reached the right consistency (in this case soft peaks) stop whipping otherwise it will go into stiff peaks which makes it difficult to fold with the rest of the ingredients
- Granulated sugar: I use simple, white granulated sugar, nothing fancy . While heating it up with pumpkin puree make sure the sugar granulates fully dissolve. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here.
- Lemon juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Cream cheese: I always use Philadelphia when I state cream cheese in my recipes. I find it easy to cream (need to bring it to room temperature first) and very pleasant in taste. I usually beat it with a hand mixer for less than a minute, just until it becomes fluffy and increases a bit in volume. Please avoid over whipping
- Vanilla extract: Avoid using artificial vanilla especially. There are several great brands for fine, pure vanilla, I use Nielsen massey which I love and really recommend
- Pumpkin spice: I made my own pumpkin spice that is super quick, easy and smells fantastic with all the aromas you love about fall. Read how to make pumpkin spice in here
For the topping
- Gelatin: I am using a small amount of of gelatine for the topping to slightly support its consistency. If you don’t mind runny, you can leave it out
- Granulated sugar: Use white granulated sugar, simple . While heating it up with lemon juice make sure the sugar granulates fully dissolve
- Lemon juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Pumpkin: As per above
For the decoration
- Egg white: That is the base of meringue. Make sure you use fresh egg whites which are absolutely free from any sort of fat (e.g. egg yolk). If you get some egg yolk into the egg white, start again. Believe me, you can’t make a successful meringue with that batch unfortunately. After the egg white whipped up until stiff, shiny peaks, it is important to pipe relatively fast and place the meringue into the oven as soon as possible. On room temperature, especially on a warm day, the meringue starts to loose its volume quickly
- Sugar: Since I am doing a Swiss meringue technique, simple granulated sugar is absolutely fine using here
- Cream of tartar (optional): It helps stabilise whipped egg whites and prevents sugar from crystallising. If you are an experienced baker and perfectly know how to make meringue perhaps you can leave it out. I did not use it in this recipe simply because I run out of it. If you are using it, add ½ teaspoon
- White Vinegar (optional): Similar function as cream of tartar, it’s all about the perfect meringue! The final baked meringue won’t taste vinegar, I promise! This recipe is using ½ teaspoon of white vinegar added to the mixture just before piping
- Cornstarch (optional): It helps to achieve the marshmallow centre and again, stabilise the meringue. I did not use for this recipe, if you are using it, you will need to add 1 teaspoon just before piping along with vinegar
Now let’s continue with my top 5+1 tips regarding the technique of making this No-bake Pumpkin cheesecake recipe
It’s a super simple recipe and don’t have to overthink however there are some important notes worth considering.
1. How to prepare no-bake Oreo cheesecake crust
Making the crust for this cheesecake is literally mixing butter and Oreo crumb however based on your questions from earlier there are a couple of useful notes I would like to share:
- You can use a food processor to make the biscuit crumb or do the the old fashion way and crush it in a zipped bag with a rolling pin
- Mix butter and biscuit crumb while butter is runny (melted). Butter will act like a binding agent in the crust recipe. Once it is cooled down in the fridge, it will set creating crunchy, but firm crust to hold the filling. You might have bad experience from the past with cheesecake crust being too crumby and not holding its shape, it’s probably due to not enough butter in the recipe or it was not chilled enough in the fridge to set
- When butter is melted the mixture might be runny depending on the temperature of the butter but do not add more biscuit crumb. Pop it into the fridge for 5 minutes, it will set very quickly into a consistency you can work with
- The one and only secret of making firm, neat crust is to press crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom and on the sides of your cake ring. Find some equipment in your kitchen and use it to really press down the crust, maybe a small measuring cup worst case scenario your fingers. Place crust into the freezer and let it set for 10-15 min while you prepare the filling
- Pro tip: Invest into a proper Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) for neat looking, tall cheesecake side
2. How to make pumpkin cream cheese filling
Preparing the pumpkin cream cheese mousse filling is a 3 steps process, do not try to combine them to “save time”
- Step 1: Prepare the gelatine mixture, cook together pumpkin puree and sugar until mixture slightly thicken and not watery. This will need your judgement as it really depends on how wet the pumpkin puree you use. For me it took 15 minutes. Once you are happy with the consistency, mix gelatine sheets in then bring the mixture down to lukewarm temperature before step 2. Too warm? It will melt cream cheese in Step 2. Too cold? Gelatine will set and will be impossible to mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Do not put the mixture into the fridge or freezer as gelatine can form lumps or the mixture can cool down too quickly
- Step 2: Once the gelatine pumpkin mixture cooled down to lukewarm temperature, whip room temperature cream cheese until fluffy, for about a minute. Fold cream cheese and pumpkin mixture together. Cream cheese is an interesting ingredient, it won´t get more fluffy or harder if you beat longer, in fact, it will break and become runny. I suggest to use an Electric hand mixer to avoid over beating.
- Step 3: Whip heavy cream until soft peaks and fold cream into the rest of the mixture and pour or ideally pipe into the crust then smooth the top with an offset spatula. Make sure heavy cream is very cold or it might be difficult to whip up. While whipping heavy cream, remember that it will go through the following stages: runny, soft peak, stiff peak then it will break and few minutes later buttermilk separates and you can make butter . For this recipe make sure you stop after soft peak. The cream should not be runny but also should not be too stiff which would make it difficult to fold the cream with the rest of the ingredients.
- +1: do not forget the spices that is the heart of this no-bake pumpkin cheesecake recipe, it is a good idea to add the spices at step 2
3. How to make the pumpkin topping
It is literally cooking pumpkin with sugar until mixture slightly thickens then mixing gelatine sheets in. Easy peasy! Then wait! Very important that you do not pour hot topping onto the cake, instead wait until cream cheese filling already set and topping cools down to lukewarm.
4. How to make ghost meringues
I have a step by step baking guide about how to make meringue kisses and how to turn them into meringue ghosts! It is a super fun, easy way to upgrade recipes for Halloween! Please read my instructions in here! I cover the topics of
- How to make Swiss meringue
- How to pipe
- What is the right temperature to bake
- How to decorate
- What equipment is needed
5. How assemble this cake No-bake pumpkin cheesecake
Baking this cake is super easy however assembling it is a step by step process. 1. You will need to make the crust, firmly press it into a Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) and freeze it for 10 minutes while preparing the pumpkin cream cheese filling. 2. Pipe the pumpkin cheese filling into the crust and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Pop the cake back to the freezer for 10-15 minutes. 3. Prepare the topping however only pour the topping onto the cheesecake when the mixture cools down to lukewarm and pumpkin cream cheese filling is set. If you pour the topping while it is super hot, it will melt the cream cheese filling. If you wait too long, the gelatine will set and you won't be able to pour. Try to find the sweet spot that is cold cream cheese filling that is already set and lukewarm topping temperature.
Important note regarding the ghost meringue cookies. Meringue is super sensitive to humidity so you want to avoid leaving them too long on the cake or they might get soft. Best thing I can recommend is to decorate the cake right before serving. The meringue will lose its structure on the cake in literally some hours and that is normal due to the "wet" surface of the pumpkin topping.
+1 Be Patient
Patient is key when making mousse type cakes, like this no-bake cheesecake. You just can’t rush certain steps or it will make a mess. It is a super simple recipe, but you have to respect time, concretely leaving enough time in between making crust and filling and decoration
- The gelatin mixture, as stated in the recipe, needs to cool down to lukewarm before mixing with cream cheese
- The crust needs to get frozen before pouring the cream cheese filling in
- The cream cheese filling needs to set before pouring the lukewarm topping on it
- And then comes the hardest part, let the whole cheesecake rest with the mousse ring on it in the fridge for minimum 4 hours or better if overnight before opening. Patience is not my strength neither but believe me, it is worth to wait
No-bake Pumpkin cheesecake
- 75 g Unsalted butter
- 187 g Oreo 17 pieces of Oreo, although it might vary by country
- Pinch of salt
- 1 Gelatine sheet
- 180 g Pumpkin puree
- 35 g Granulated sugar
- 10 g Lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 60 g Egg whites approx. whites of 2 eggs
- 100 g Granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon Cream of tartar optional
- 1 teaspoon Corn starch optional
- ½ teaspoon White vinegar optional
- 30 g Chocolate dark
- Black food colouring
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Start with melting butter in microwave then let it cool down slightly while preparing the Oreo crumbs
- Oreo crumbs can be made in food processor or by using a zip bag and rolling pin. Mix crumbs with with the warm but not hot butter and pinch of salt until it comes together
- Line a spring form or Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) with the mixture and press it flat evenly. I am using a 14 cm / 5.5 inch ring,. If the mixture is too runny, place it into the fridge for a few minutes. Once the crust evenly distributed, place it into the freezer while preparing the filling
Pumpkin cream cheese mousse
- Soak gelatin into cold water
- Heat pumpkin puree with sugar and cook for 10-15 minutes on low medium heat until some water evaporates and you get a thick, less watery pumpkin pure. The exact cooking time depends on how watery your pumpkin puree to start with
- Squeeze excess water from gelatin and stir into the mixture then mix in the lemon juice. It won’t taste lemon but the lemon balances the flavours
- Whip heavy cream until soft peaks and very gently, using a Rubber spatula fold into the cream cheese mixture. It must stay light and fluffy before pouring into the crust
- Pour cream cheese mousse into the frozen crust and smooth the top with an Offset spatula. Place it into the freezer again while preparing the topping
- Soak gelatine into cold water
- Bring pumpkin, sugar and lemon juice to boil and cook it again for 5-10 minutes until mixture slightly thickens and become less watery
- Squeeze excess water from gelatine and stir into the mixture. While still warm but not very hot pour it over the cheesecake. Place it into the fridge to set at least 4 hours, better if overnight
- Once cheesecake set, very carefully remove the ring / spring form
- Make meringue ghosts according to instructions in here
- Decorate the cheesecake with meringue ghosts straight before serving. Please note that he meringue won't last forever on the cake. As soon as the meringue gets in contact with the cake it will start to lose its structure in a few hours (humidity) so make sure you decorate the cake only right before serving