This Pujo, 3 things are inevitable: I will receive at least one questionable piece of clothing from relatives, I will cry a lot for having missed Kolkata Pujo a seventh time in a row, and will therefore crave a ton of desserts (and likely put on at least 3 pounds too), because the hedonist in me believes that desserts are the cure for most miseries. The sweet-fixated Bengali gene in me, which I try to control most of the time, is carried away by the magic spell of Pujo. I crave muffins, cookies, cheesecakes, rasmalais, kaju katli, kulfi, rosogolla, pantua, you name it! And often times I crave all of these at once.
Cheesecakes, rasmalais, and kulfis are three things that always make me happy, instantaneously. Sadly, the latter two are not easily available here, and I never have enough leftover emergency cheesecakes in my fridge. Therefore, in order to save myself the embarrassment of some midnight pajama visits to the local HEB and I-Hop, I made ahead this perfect dessert to fight the imminent bouts of Puja depression. What I made, you ask? Wait for it—–a Kulfi–Rasmalai-Cheesecake! It is perfect! Because, while having the basic elements of a classic cheesecake (graham cracker crust and cream cheese) it also retains all the essential ingredients of my favorite Indian desserts. It has pistachios, saffron, and hints of cardamom to simulate the flavors of Kesar-pista (saffron-pistachio) kulfi and rasmalai. The condensed milk gives it a creamy rasmalai like texture that contrasts perfectly with the buttery and crumbly crust. What’s best is that it is a no-bake, eggless cheesecake that takes less than 30 minutes to put together.
If you don’t have/like pistachios, use walnuts or almonds instead. The cake tastes pretty good even without any of the added flavors. I always use low fat dairy for my desserts, but feel free to use whatever variety you like.
I couldn’t wait for 4 hours for the cake to set, so I sliced for myself this piece of a slightly runny cheesecake. It still tasted delicious; like a crusted rasmalai.
- 5 oz Graham crackers, finely ground (140 grams approx)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
- 16 oz cream cheese (450 grams approx)
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 4 tbsp sugar
- few strands of saffron
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/4 cup of pistachios, chopped
- Thoroughly mix ground graham crackers, 2 tbsp sugar, and butter in a mixing bowl or food processor.
- Transfer the mix to either a spring pan, or a baking tray that has been lined with cling wrap. Using a spoon, press the mixture evenly in the pan. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator until the cheesecake mixture is ready. Alternately, you can also use individual ramekins.
- Soak the saffron strands in a tbsp of warm milk for 10 minutes.
- While the saffron soaks, thoroughly mix cream cheese, condensed milk, remaining sugar, and cardamom powder with a wire whisk.
- Add the saffron milk to the cream cheese mix.
- Pour the mix evenly on to the graham cracker crust. Use a spoon to spread the mixture if needed.
- Garnish with chopped pistachios.
- Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.