Beecher's No-Bake Super-Light Cheesecake with Butternut Squash Compote

This cheesecake is easy to make and doesn’t require any esoteric tools or pans. Instead of using the standard cream cheese, this recipe combines the full flavor of Beecher’s Flagship cheese with creamy mascarpone. I like to coarsely grate the cheese so I can taste it distinctly within the cheesecake. The crust can be made ahead, baked, cooled, and stored wrapped in airtight plastic wrap for 24 hours.  

For the Crust
1 (5 ounce) bag Beecher’s Honey Hazelnut Crackers
4 tablespoons brown Sugar Mountain
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling
1 teaspoon gelatin
¼ cup lemon juice
12 ounces mascarpone cheese
½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces Beecher’s Flagship cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 ½ cups)

Butternut Compote for Super Light Cheesecake
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted, divided
7 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ¾-inch cubes (from approx. 2 ½-3 lb. squash)
2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar, divided
1 ¼ teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup, plus 2 teaspoons Cider vinegar, divided
½ teaspoon Gelatin powder dissolved in ¼ c. cold water
¾ cup Water
¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Vanilla

To make the crust, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350° F. In a food processor, process the crackers and sugar to fine, even crumbs, about 30 seconds. Add the melted butter in a steady stream while pulsing; pulse until the mixture is evenly moistened and sticks together when pressed between your fingers.

Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch pie pan. Using the bottom of a dry measuring cup press the cracker mixture firmly and evenly into the pan bottom and up the sides. Use the back of a spoon to make an even edge. Bake until fragrant and golden brown, 12 to 18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

To make the filling, while the crust is cooling, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the surface of the lemon juice in a small microwave safe bowl and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. Heat the gelatin mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until steaming. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, mix the mascarpone and ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar with a spatula. In a separate large bowl, whisk the cream and remaining 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes, and set aside. Stir the cooled gelatin mixture into the mascarpone mixture. Stir in the grated cheese. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone cheese mixture.

Transfer the filling to the cooled crust. Using a spoon, spread the filling to the outer edges to create an indentation in the middle with a 1-inch lip around the edges. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set.

To make the topping, preheat oven to 450° F (425° convection oven)

In a large bowl combine the squash cubes, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, kosher salt, and chili powder.  Mix well and spread onto a sheet pan leaving some space around each of the squash cubes.  Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until starting to brown and cooked through.  Remove from oven to cool slightly.

Meanwhile heat remaining butter in saucepan over medium low heat until the milk solids begin to brown and smell nutty.  Add ¼ cup cider vinegar and cook for 1-2 minutes or until acrid smell dissipates.  Add ½ c water, gelatin mixture, cinnamon, vanilla, remaining 2 tsp.  brown sugar and half of the roasted butternut squash.  Stir and cook for 1 minute, breaking up some of the squash to thicken the sauce.  Remove from heat, stir in remaining butternut squash and remaining 2 tsp. cider vinegar. 

Cool to room temperature and top cheesecake.  There will be extra!
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