Sunday, 16 March 2014

Segmented and Psychedelic Mini No-Bake Rainbow Cheesecake -- Fun (but messy) holiday activity with kids

When I realized that I had almost all the ingredients I need to make a no-bake cheesecake, I jumped at the chance to make mini rainbow cheesecakes with the kids now that the school holidays are here. Here's my neat segmented rainbow cheesecake (different from the typical ones with various colors in concentric circles) and our psychedelic rainbow cheesecakes!

The psychedelic cakes at the front row are made by my kids and the one behind is made by me. This is a really simple yet fun activity parents can do with kids from the age of 2 onwards, with older kids taking on more responsibility in the "baking" process.

Segmented rainbow cheesecakes have the added advantage of you not having to work out how much batter to portion for each color because the amount is the same. We begin by making the color separator for the segmented cheesecakes with aluminum foil.

Older kids can help to work out the math of making the separator and actually making it like an art and craft activity. Measure the diameter of the base of your muffin pan. I used a jumbo muffin pan. Using the known dimensions of your muffin pan, form 6 triangular "tents" with an equilateral triangle at the base. Make sure that the separator has at least 2 layers of foil and the height is at least a few centimeters above the top surface of your pan. Use scotch tape to tape the tents together. You may want to wash and dry the separator for hygiene reasons as the cake is not baked.

I used the recipe printed on the packaging of Philadelphia cream cheese but with amount of sugar reduced (yes, you may have noticed that I almost always reduce the sugar content of any recipe that I come across :P), the quantity halved and vanilla essence added in.

1/2 cup + 2 tbs crushed digestive biscuits
40g melted butter
250g Light Philadelphia Cream Cheese block, softened
55g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp gelatine, dissolved in 2 tbs boiling water
1/2 cup cream
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Gel food coloring

1. Crush the digestive biscuits. Here's my little one helping me to do the job:

2. Combine biscuit crumbs and butter and press into silicone cupcake holders/ muffin pan lined with paper cupcake liners. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Beat cream cheese and sugar using an electric mixer until smooth. If you don't have an electric mixer at home, you may use a wooden/ metal spoon to soften the cream cheese and a hand whisk to mix in all the ingredients. Just make sure that your cream cheese is at room temperature and it should be soft enough to work with. Beat in gelatine mixture until well combined. Add cream and lemon juice, continue beating until smooth. Gently fold in the lemon zest.

4. Divide the batter equally among 6 ziplock bags and color them with food coloring. This is a non-messy way of coloring the batter with less bowls and spoons to wash! Rub the bags with your hands to mix in the coloring until it is evenly colored.

5. Snip off a corner of each bag (Small hole only please! The batter is pretty runny!) and pipe the batter onto the biscuit base. If you are making psychedelic cakes, just pipe the colors in any way that you want. Strive to be messy to achieve a truly psychedelic look!

If you are making the more classy segmented ones, place your color separator onto the biscuit base and pipe in one color at a time. Some batter may leak out from the bottom but that is OK. Just try to work as fast as you can. Gently lift off the separator until it is just above the surface of the cake and let the batter that is stuck on it fall to the cake, then lift it off in one quick motion. Wipe off any excess batter from the base of the separator before working on another cake. If the boundary between colors appears messy, you may use a chopstick or a small food brush to "clean up" the lines.

6. You may wish to decorate it with cupcake toppers like us but that's optional. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set and serve it cold.

The psychedelic rainbow cheese cakes are really beautiful on the inside!

Like me, you will have a rainbow mess to clean up.... but a beautiful one :)

Hope you and your kids have a great time this March school holiday!

With love,
Phay Shing

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