Recipe

Eleventh-Hour Date-Night Cheesecake Mousse

by Sasha Marx 

Forget the heart-shaped boxes of assorted chocolates of past Hail Mary Valentine’s Day efforts. Don’t even think about the overpriced prix-fixe menu at that fancy restaurant where you’ll spend the evening crammed in next to another couple, wishing you didn’t have to overhear their awkward conversations (if you can even get a reservation at this late hour). Whatever your reason for dragging your feet on Valentine’s Day prep, don’t sweat it—we’ve got your back with a dessert featuring locally sourced ingredients (from your corner bodega) that looks anything but last-minute. For the planners among us, all of the components can be made ahead. And while this dessert looks impressive, it’s really fun to plate. So make a simple, sexy dinner (Butter-Basted Rib-Eye Steak, anyone?) and then bring down the house with this superlight and dead-easy cheesecake mousse. Whether or not your significant other knows that dessert was sourced from a convenience store is up to you. Read my diary of the harrowing Valentine’s Day that led to the creation of this dessert here.  

Photography by Steve Klise.
Food Styling by Elle Simone.

Yield
Makes 2 romantic servings
SFS_ProcrastinationValentines-27.jpg
Ingredients
88 g cream cheese
88 g 4 percent cottage cheese
24 g confectioners' sugar
75 g heavy cream, chilled
227 g water
113 g sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins), chopped fine
4 g black tea (2 tea bags)
28 g unsalted butter
32 g graham crackers (2 whole crackers), chopped fine
25 g old-fashioned rolled oats
10 g turbinado sugar
0.5 g kosher salt
30 g roasted salted shelled pistachios, chopped coarse
3 ounces (⅓ cup) cream cheese
3 ounces (⅓ cup) 4 percent cottage cheese
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
⅓ cup heavy cream, chilled
1 cup water
¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins), chopped fine
2  black tea bags
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2  whole graham crackers, chopped fine
¼ cup (¾ ounce) old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
Pinch  kosher salt
¼ cup roasted salted shelled pistachios, chopped coarse
Essential Equipment
Instructions
    • 88 g cream cheese 
    • 88 g 4 percent cottage cheese 
    • 24 g confectioners’ sugar
    Process cream cheese, cottage cheese, and sugar in food processor until smooth and well combined, 45 to 60 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl. 
    • 75 g heavy cream, chilled
    Using whisk, whip cream in second medium bowl until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate mousse for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.  
    • 227 g water 
    • 113 g sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins), chopped fine 
    • 4 g black tea bags (2 tea bags)
    Meanwhile, combine water, cranberries, and tea bags in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to jam-like consistency and measures (not including the tea bags) about 250 grams (1 cup), 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, discard tea bags, and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Cranberry jam can be transferred to airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 week. (This recipe yields extra cranberry jam, which makes a great topping for yogurt.)  
    • 28 g unsalted butter 
    • 32 g graham crackers (2 whole crackers), chopped fine 
    • 25 g old-fashioned rolled oats  
    • 10 g turbinado sugar 
    • 0.5 g kosher salt
    Melt butter in small skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until butter is golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in crackers and oats, and continue to cook until oats are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to small bowl and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Stir in sugar and salt until combined. Cracker mixture can be transferred to airtight container and stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours. (This recipe yields extra graham cracker mixture, which makes a great topping for yogurt.)  
    • 30 g roasted salted shelled pistachios, chopped coarse
    Lightly spray inside of 4-inch ring mold with vegetable oil spray. Plating 1 portion at a time, place ring mold in center of plate or shallow bowl. Spread 22 grams (1 tablespoon) cranberry jam in even layer inside mold, directly on plate. Sprinkle 25 grams (2 tablespoons) cracker mixture in even layer on top of jam. Next, add 100 grams (½ cup) cream cheese mousse and spread into even layer. Spread 45 grams (2 tablespoons) cranberry jam in even layer on top of mousse. Finally, sprinkle pistachios over top. Carefully but decisively lift ring mold in 1 smooth vertical motion. Wipe inside of mold clean, lightly spray with oil spray, and repeat process to plate second portion. Serve with plenty of off-dry sparkling wine and Barry White tunes.
Instructions
    • 3 ounces (⅓ cup) cream cheese 
    • 3 ounces (⅓ cup) 4 percent cottage cheese 
    • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
    Process cream cheese, cottage cheese, and sugar in food processor until smooth and well combined, 45 to 60 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl. 
    • ⅓ cup heavy cream, chilled
    Using whisk, whip cream in second medium bowl until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate mousse for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.  
    • 1 cup water 
    • ¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins), chopped fine 
    • 2 black tea bags
    Meanwhile, combine water, cranberries, and tea bags in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to jam-like consistency and measures (not including the tea bags) about 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, discard tea bags, and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Cranberry jam can be transferred to airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 week. (This recipe yields extra cranberry jam, which makes a great topping for yogurt.)  
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
    • 2 whole graham crackers, chopped fine 
    • ¼ cup (¾ ounce) old-fashioned rolled oats  
    • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar 
    • Pinch kosher salt
    Melt butter in small skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until butter is golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in crackers and oats, and continue to cook until oats are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to small bowl and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Stir in sugar and salt until combined. Cracker mixture can be transferred to airtight container and stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours. (This recipe yields extra graham cracker mixture, which makes a great topping for yogurt.)  
    • ¼ cup roasted salted shelled pistachios, chopped coarse
    Lightly spray inside of 4-inch ring mold with vegetable oil spray. Plating 1 portion at a time, place ring mold in center of plate or shallow bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon cranberry jam in even layer inside mold, directly on plate. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cracker mixture in even layer on top of jam. Next, add ½ cup cream cheese mousse and spread into even layer. Spread 2 tablespoons cranberry jam in even layer on top of mousse. Finally, sprinkle pistachios over top. Carefully but decisively lift ring mold in 1 smooth vertical motion. Wipe inside of mold clean, lightly spray with oil spray, and repeat process to plate second portion. Serve with plenty of off-dry sparkling wine and Barry White tunes.  
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