No-Bake Butterscotch Cheesecake with Brûlée Topping
May 26, 2022
If you want to serve something delicious and visually impressive, without dealing with baking, this is the dessert for you! This no-bake butterscotch cheesecake features a simple graham cracker crust and is topped with brûléed sugar, for that gourmet aesthetic.
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There’s a National Cheesecake Day, but no special holiday dedicated to no-bake cheesecakes, and that’s just wrong. I vote we declare this easy chilled dessert the official treat of the entire summer season. Take that standard cheesecake. But really, no-bake cheesecake is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.
It’s so versatile, allowing for plenty of flavors and toppings, and it’s also incredibly easy to make, without having to deal with water baths and cracking tops. This version features butterscotch, a flavor I adore, along with a lovely cracked brûlée topping.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for this brûléed no-bake butterscotch cheesecake at your grocery store:
- Pantry: Brown sugar, Corn syrup, Apple cider vinegar, Powdered sugar, Granulated sugar
- Fridge: Butter, Heavy cream, Cream cheese
- Equipment: Thermometer, 8×8 square or 9-inch round casserole, Parchment paper, Stand mixer or hand mixer, Flexible spatula, Baking sheet, Foil, Blow torch (optional)
- For the Graham Cracker Crust: Graham crackers, brown sugar, butter
How to Make Butterscotch Sauce
Unlike most desserts where you might add a drizzle of butterscotch sauce at the end, it’s a main ingredient in this no-bake cheesecake. Plus this recipe makes a little bit extra, so you can also drizzle your slices of cheesecake with more. It’s a win-win for butterscotch lovers everywhere.
You’ll definitely want to get started making the butterscotch sauce first, as you’ll want to allow it time to cool before preparing the cheesecake filling. Luckily, it’s pretty simple to make. Butterscotch is kind of like caramel, but it doesn’t need to get as hot, thanks to the additional molasses in the brown sugar.
Before starting be sure your cream and butter are ready to go. This comes together quickly. To begin the sauce, add the brown sugar, water, and corn syrup into a medium saucepan. Heat the mixture on medium, and stir it gently, just until the sugar has dissolved.
Then, continue heating without stirring, and start taking the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Unlike caramel, it’s difficult to use color to tell when butterscotch is done. The temperature you want to reach is 230°F, which is the syrup stage of candy making.
At that point, you’ll want to turn off the heat and immediately add in the butter and cream. Be careful doing this, since the cold ingredients can cause the hot butterscotch to seize and splatter a little bit.
Stir the sauce off the heat, until it’s totally smooth, and the butter has fully melted into it. It may look a little streaky at first, but just keep stirring it gently and eventually you’ll get that lovely caramelly color.
Then, transfer it to a jar with the lid placed over it loosely while you let it cool to room temperature. Set this aside while you prepare the rest of the cheesecake crust and filling.
If you want to prepare in advance, this butterscotch sauce can be made up to a week ahead and stored in the fridge. Be sure to wait until it cools to room temperature before tightly sealing the jar and chilling it. If needed, you can warm it in the microwave and stir until it reaches a drizzling consistency.
Let’s Make No-Bake Butterscotch Cheesecake
This cheesecake uses a simple graham cracker crust. I won’t go into all the details here about how to prepare this, but here are a few tips to make this recipe work a little bit better: First, be sure to line your pan – either a square or round casserole or baking pan – with parchment.
Also, when you are making the crust, you will want to follow the instructions for freezing the crust, since this is a no-bake cheesecake. If you prefer to make the crust a little more interesting, this is a great place to experiment! A chocolate crust or some chopped pecans will complement this butterscotch cheesecake nicely.
While the crust is chilling and the butterscotch is cooling, it’s time to make the actual cheesecake filling! No-bake cheesecake is essentially sweetened and softened cream cheese folded together with freshly whipped cream.
Begin by using either a hand or stand mixer to whip the heavy cream. There’s no need to add any stabilizers to this, since it will be immediately added into the cream cheese mixture. However, you will need to do some planning when it comes to your equipment.
If you only have a single bowl for your stand mixer, I suggest making the whipped cream with a hand mixer instead. Otherwise, you will need to transfer it to a second bowl while you mix the cream cheese.
This part, I prefer to to in my stand mixer, especially since cold cream cheese can be a little tough to get started. Combine the cream cheese along with some of that gooey butterscotch sauce, powdered sugar, and apple cider vinegar in your mixer bowl.
Mix on medium-low speed, using the paddle attachment until it’s all nice and smooth. You may need to grab a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and knock any large cheesecake chunks out of the paddle. Once it’s all ready, add the whipped cream right into the bowl with the smooth butterscotch cream cheese.
Definitely do this next step by hand, since the mixer can provide too much power even at its lowest setting. You’ll want to gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese. Consistently scrape down the sides and along the bottom of the bowl to get everything incorporated.
Once the mixture is uniform, your cheesecake filling is done! Pull your graham cracker crust out of the freezer, and transfer the filling right on top of it. Use your spatula to spread it around, covering the crust in a thick, even layer.
Since it’s no-bake, there’s nothing stopping you from licking the spatula and bowl when you are done! Honestly, that might be a required part of the recipe.
Place the whole cheesecake into the fridge to chill for at least four hours, but preferably overnight. This will allow the filling to set up and thicken a little bit, which makes it easier to cut and serve. For spoonable cheesecake, no chilling is necessary.
Meanwhile it’s time to make the brûlée topping. If you’ve never done this before, you can use either a blow torch or your broiler. Either way, sprinkle sugar evenly over a sprayed and foil-lined baking sheet, in a shape and size similar to your cheesecake.
To broil, preheat with a rack in the top half of the oven. Then broil for just a couple minutes on high until the sugar is golden brown and bubbling, watching carefully to assure it doesn’t burn. Then, allow the pan to cool on a trivet for a few minutes.
If you have a culinary blow torch available to you, that is the traditional method to brûlée. Be careful with the flame, and be sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Wave the flame over the sugar until it’s a golden-brown color and bubbling.
Place the pan in the fridge until it’s cool enough to handle. Then use the foil to carefully invert the brûlée onto the top of the cheesecake. Peel off the foil, and break off any extra pieces. You can stick these shards into the cheesecake for a fun visual.
Gently tap on the brûlée with a knife to get a clean break. Too much pressure can cause the hardened sugar to shatter. Break it up for an interesting design if you’d like, or at least before slicing. To serve, use the edges of the parchment to remove the cheesecake from pan. Slice it into a dozen pieces, wiping the knife off in between cuts. Feel free to drizzle slices with extra butterscotch sauce.
You can store the cheesecake, whole or cut, in the fridge for a couple days. The bruleed topping will soften if it’s on top of the cheesecake thanks to the moisture, so you may want to store it separately and top just before cutting and serving.
Gooey sweet butterscotch and crackly brûléed topping come together in a no-bake cheesecake for an impressive and decadent year-round dessert!
How to Serve Butterscotch Cheesecake
Because this cheesecake stores nicely in the fridge for a few days, why not make one and then eat it for both breakfast and dessert? It’s the right thing to do during national no-bake cheesecake season. I first served this as the third course of a fancy brunch alongside some simple pancakes.
When it comes to dessert, a cheesecake can always work well as a gorgeous centerpiece surrounded by other sweets. Add this to a spread with rocky road black bean brownies, lemon lavender cupcakes, and miso peanut butter cup cookies.
And of course, don’t forget the drinks! Lean into the creaminess with a birthday cake martini or a cozy raspberry white hot chocolate. Or go full decadent with a chocolate turtle martini. For something zero-proof, sip on a cocktail made with an alcohol-free spiced rum alternative.
More Cheesecake Treats to Try
No-Bake Butterscotch Cheesecake with Brûlée Topping
- ½ Cup Brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp Water
- 1 Tbsp Corn Syrup
- 2 Tbsp Butter cut into 4 pieces
- ¼ Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Graham Cracker Crust see note for recipe
- 1 ¼ Cups Heavy Cream
- 12 Oz Cream Cheese
- ¼ Cup Butterscotch Sauce (above)
- 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ Cup Confectioner's Sugar
- 3 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
- In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water, and corn syrup. Heat on medium, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.Continue heating until it reaches a temperature of 230°F. Then turn off the heat.
- Add in the butter and cream carefully, as the mixture may seize. Stir until smooth. Transfer to a jar and cover loosely. Let cool to room temperature before storing.
- Line an 8x8 square or 9-inch round glass casserole dish or baking pan with parchment paper hanging over the edges. Follow the graham cracker crust recipe freezing instructions.
- Using a hand or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream beginning on low to avoid splashing, and working your way up to high, until the whipped cream holds its shape. Set aside.
- In a second bowl, use your mixer on medium to combine the cream cheese, butterscotch sauce, vinegar, and sugar until completely smooth.
- Use a silicone spatula to fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream, until uniform. Then spread the filling on top of the frozen crust; cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Spray a foil-line baking sheet with nonstick spray. Sprinkle the sugar in an even layer over the baking sheet, in a shape and size similar to your cheesecake.
- Use one of the following methods to brûlée:Broiler: Preheat broiler with a rack in the top half of the oven. Broil about 1-3 minutes on high until golden brown and bubbling, watching carefully to assure it doesn't burn. Allow the pan to cool on a trivet for 3-4 minutes.Blow torch: Follow the manufacturer's instructions to use your culinary blow torch, waving the flame over the sugar until it's a golden-brown color and bubbling.
- Place the pan in the fridge for 5-10 minutes until cooled. Use the foil to carefully invert the brûlée onto the top of the cheesecake. Break off any extra pieces and stick them into the cheesecake. Gently tap on the brûlée with a knife to get a clean break either for design or at least before slicing.
- Use the edges of the parchment to remove the cheesecake from pan. Slice it into 12 pieces, wiping the knife off in between cuts.
- Graham cracker crust: Learn to make a basic graham cracker crust as part of the Baking Basics series.
- Make ahead tips:
- Store cheesecake in the fridge for 2-3 days. The bruleed topping will soften if it's on the cheesecake, so you may want to store it separately and top just before serving.
- The butterscotch sauce can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge. If needed, microwave the sauce in 15 second increments and stir until it reaches a drizzling consistency.
- 8×8 square or 9-inch round casserole
- Parchment paper
- Stand mixer or hand mixer
- Flexible spatula
- Baking sheet
- Blow torch (optional)