This Polish Cold Cheesecake, sernik na zimno, is prepared without baking, making it a perfect summer dessert. It’s something I’ve seen in many a bakery case, so I wanted to try it. Yes, I’ve succumbed to the Polish fascination with gelatin.
The Polish Cold Cheesecake Crust
I’ve made a digestive crumb crust. It’s my absolute favorite. I love digestives! I’ve had readers ask what they are, so I know they are not commonly known in the USA.
Digestive Biscuits are semi-sweet, plain cookies with a grainy texture that comes from wheat germ. They were invented in Scottland in the late 1800s by two doctors who created them as an aid to digestion. I don’t know about that, but chocolate-covered digestives are great for dunking.
I use the plain ones in a crust. I can usually find them at Cost Plus World Market, but this time, I came across them on the international aisle in our Kroger supermarket.
If you can’t find them, you can make a cookie crumb crust with graham crackers, vanilla wafers, shortbread, or just about any kind of plain cookie. I’ll say that Polish cooks also mark a cookie crust by just lining the bottom of the pan with cookies edge to edge.
The Polish Cold Cheesecake Filling
This recipe comes from the amazing Polish food blog AniaGotuje.pl which means Ania Cooks. Ania uses a lightly sweetened, vanilla cream cheese that can be purchased in Poland. I used lots of plain cream cheese and added just a to little powdered sugar.
The other ingredient in the filling is plain or flavored gelatin. We don’t have the sophisticated flavors Ania mentioned like pear, so I’ve used lemon and a packet of plain gelatin. You could also be bold and use gelatin with more color in the filling.
The filling is easy to make. I love that it is no baking, no water-bath to worry about.
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The Polish Cold Cheesecake Topping
Your cold cheesecake is topped with fresh fruit and a layer of gelatin. It’s visually the most striking feature – a bold stripe of color and studded with fruit gems. I
‘ve used fresh strawberries which seems to be the most popular, but it’s not your only choice. Use other berries or sliced stone fruit if you like.
As much as I love the look of this colorful jello topping, it’s my least favorite part of this Polish dessert. I realize that if this is something you grew up eating, it’s a key part of the dish, but for me, the texture of the gelatin overpowers the other layers. It’s a bit on the dense side, just like you would make to cut out “jigglers” for kids.
We may try this again with a thinner, less dense layer of gelatin, but most likely future renditions will be topped with a fruit sauce rather than the jello layer. Don’t hate me. I never claimed to be a purist! 😉
A no-bake Polish cheesecake topped with fruity gelatin
- 3 ounce packet of lemon gelatin
- 1/4 ounce packet unflavored gelatin
- 1 2/3 cups boiling water
- 14 digestive biscuits (2 cups cookie crumbs)
- 4 – 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 28 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 3 ounce packet strawberry gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
- fresh mint (an optional garnish)
- Combine the lemon and plain gelatin with 1 2/3 cups boiling water, stir until the gelatin dissolves. Let cool.
- Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Greasing the sides will hold the parchment in place.
- Crush the cookies into crumbs with a rolling pin or a food processor. Mix the cookie crumbs with 4 tablespoons melted butter. The mixture should look like wet sand and hold together nicely when pressed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter if needed. Using the bottom of a measuring cup or the back of a large spoon, press the cookie crumb/butter mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Chill.
- Beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar. Then add the cooled lemon gelatin. Beat until well combine. Add to the springform pan, spreading evenly over the crust. Chill.
- Combine the strawberry gelatin with 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Cool. Add a very thin layer (1/8 inch) of strawberry gelatin to the top of the chilled cheesecake. Arrange the strawberries in the top layer of gelatin, gently pressing them in. This will help to anchor the berry slices and keep them from floating to the top. Gently add the remaining gelatin and refrigerate until the top layer isfirm.
- Carefully remove the side of the springform pan, peeling away the parchment on the side of the cheesecake before serving.
Keywords: Polish cold cheesecake