Light Unbaked Cheesecake/Greek Yogurt Mousse with Sour Cherries


I have a big passion for black sour cherries. I don’t talk about the mouth-puckering, early light red cherries with transparent flesh. I mean the dark red fruits, with a deep serious elegant taste, impossible to confound with any other variety: the ones used in the famous schwarzwälder kirschtorte, kirsch and other products, where sweet varieties might become bland and boring. They are excellent in cakes, jams, home-made liquors, but nothing equals the unique bold mixture of tanginess and sweetness of raw ripe fruits I have been crazy for since I was a child. Rare guests in my house and impossible to buy fresh here, dark sour cherries have become for me an unattainable luxury I long for almost as much as for fresh wasabi root.

Conscious of my fondness for this fruit, my kind friend has recently surprised me bringing a big box of sour cherries from her trip to Hungary. I spent the two following days, enjoying them nature straight from the box and wondering which dessert would highlight best this rare delicacy. My choice went finally for the simplest, tangy, unbaked cheesecake.

I have posted several unbaked cheesecake versions, but as a reminder I would like to emphasize they are not made with US cream cheese and I do not advise it as a substitution. I make them with fresh, natural, smooth cheese, often called “quark”, “fromage frais” or “fromage blanc”, which is slightly similar in taste to Greek yogurt (its excellent replacement by the way). Such a cheesecake doesn’t contain eggs and is set with gelatin, which creates a kind of thick moussy, creamy texture. Some people prepare it with a crust, but I’m not a fan of these, so my cheesecakes contain only cheese, gelatin, (not always) sugar and make particularly light desserts. Of course different seasonings (vanilla, aromatic alcohols, spices etc.) can be added, as well as seasonal fruits. Whatever you add, serve the unbaked cheesecake very cold and enjoy its refreshing qualities.

If you don’t like/have cherries, you might like one of these unbaked cheesecake/Greek yogurt mousse versions:

with Passion Fruit
with Passion Fruit
with Blueberry
with Blueberry
with Strawberry
with Strawberry

TIPS: You can substitute dark sour cherries with any other variety, sour or not, but do profit from seasonal fresh fruits (even though this cheesecake will be excellent with candied, canned or frozen fruits too).

This cheesecake can be made in one big mould lined with plastic film, and then sliced into portions, but I find individual portions easier to handle and much cuter when served.

The amounts of gelatin depend sometimes on the brand. Leaves are sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller,  powdered gelatin sometimes contains other products and doesn’t set as well as pure gelatin in powder… In short, the aim here is to use here the amount of gelatin which sets 500 ml/2 cups/about 17 oz liquid.

Difference between sheets and powdered gelatin: gelatin in sheets/leaves requires three stages (softening in cold water, then squeezing them to get rid of the water and then dissolving in warm/hot water), while powdered gelatin requires only one step: it needs to be stirred in warm (I prefer hot) water. There is also gelatin in “cristals” but I have never used it.

Preparation: 15 minutes + 2 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4-5): 

500 g  (about 17 oz) smoothly mixed fresh cheese or curd cheese (quark/fromage frais/fromage blanc) or Greek yogurt 

30-40 medium sized cherries (pitted, though you may save some with pits for the decoration)

1 tablespoon gelatin or 6 – 8 sheets, depending on the size/brand, so take the amount necessary to set 500 ml/17 fl oz of liquid, see TIPS above)

4 tablespoons warm water (I prefer to use hot water with powdered gelatin)

3-4 tablespoons rum or kirsch

(I haven’t added any sugar here, but if you are not fond of tangy desserts, add 4 flat tablespoons confectioner’s sugar or sweetener of your choice)

Dissolve the gelatin in 4 tablespoons warm or hot (not boiling) water. (If using leaves, proceed as indicated on the package).

Mix the cheese, the rum (and the sugar if using) in a food processor.

Add the dissolved gelatin and mix once more.

Divide the cherries equally into individual glasses (saving some for the decoration), pour the cheese mixture over them and  put into the fridge for at least two hours.

Just before serving decorate with cherries. Serve very cold.


35 Replies to “Light Unbaked Cheesecake/Greek Yogurt Mousse with Sour Cherries”

  1. Sounds like my kind of cheesecake! Less fatty and crust-less!
    I’m not familiar with your black sour variety. I’m familiar with only Japanese light red ones and American dark red ones. I wonder just how sour your variety is…
    I don’t think quark can be found here in Japan. I hope I can make Greek yogurt from regular yogurt and make cheesecake similar to yours some day.

    1. Thank you, Hiroyuki. It’s a super-diet cheesecake and it’s sappari 😉 The sour black cherry grows only in certain European countries. I’m sure you would love it since you like tangy fruits.
      Actually, you can do this cheesecake with any yogurt, as long as it’s full fat and not too liquid. You will obtain a lighter texture and formally it will not be a cheesecake, but rather a yogurt mousse cake, but it will still be delicious (I make yogurt mousses quite often even with normal yogurts, such as this one: You can mix fruits inside or put pieces in it or just leave the mousse white and put the fruits on top. Individual portions are much easier to prepare and you don’t have to bother cutting etc..

        1. Hiroyuki, I have just clicked and I saw that you linked to the t-shirt folding video! I saw something similar about a year ago and I thought all the Japanese know this method 😉 It’s impressive!
          The cheesecake with strained yogurt is quite a good idea!

  2. I’ve heard of quark but I can’t say that I’ve ever looked for it in grocery stores or at my cheese mongers. I would probably use well drained ricotta or home made paneer cheese, maybe even combine the paneer with some drained yogurt, if I couldn’t find it though. Sounds like a great ‘cheesecake’. 🙂

    1. Thank you, A_Boleyn. It’s a traditional summer cheesecake from my childhood, but as a child I wasn’t as fond of it as of heavier baked cakes…
      I would not use ricotta here because it’s too bland for me (it’s better for baked cheesecakes). Quark always has a slightly tangy note, which is perfect here. I don’t know about paneer. I have never eaten it. I think someone told me that quark is sold in Canada (maybe it’s called something else?). It’s simply fresh cheese, mixed to a smooth texture.

  3. I definitely will make this at some point soon in the near future, probably not with these rare cherries unless I find a friend going and coming back with a box of Hungarian cherries. Unlikely but stranger things have happened.
    I don’t know whether the gelatine I have is powdered or crystal. It says powdered on the label but its not fine powder but like sugar.
    “Light Unbaked Strawberry Cheesecake in a Glass” – how about ‘With a Glass Cheesecake”:)

    1. Thank you so much, Mr. Three-Cookies. Excellent idea for the name! I should patent it 😉
      I wonder if they grow in Sweden… Maybe… and you never know! If any of your friends goes to Germany or Hungary (Poland would be good too), do ask him to bring some!
      I think that if it’s crystals it’s written at the package that you have to soften them first, but if it’s like the most standard sugar, then it’s probably only for one-step use.

    1. Thank you, Kiran. The funny thing is that my guests always think it’s more difficult… while individual desserts are for me a lazy option.

  4. “Almost as much as fresh wasabi root” 😉 I always enjoy your earnest descriptions of the foods you love Sissi ~ awesome! This is such a lovely dessert and it’s full of beauty too. Fresh cherries are one of my favorite fruits – they are expensive but available here and so edible. Nature’s candy I always say. I haven’t made many desserts with them though so this is great inspiration. I’m fine skipping the crust too. I can’t always find quark but I’m not a big fan of cream cheese either. I tend to use mascarpone or ricotta which might be nice options for those who can’t access quark as easily. Beautiful Sissi and what a nice gesture from your friend; aren’t food gifts just the best? :). Guess what? My sister is leaving for Switzerland next week!

    1. Kelly, since I tasted fresh real wasabi in Japan (and brought one home and then asked my friend to bring one too…) I sometimes dream of it when I have rare grilled tuna for example… Sour black cherries have been the subject of my yearning for many years (I could add here smoked raw pork ribs…). You must absolutely tell me if your sister comes to the French-speaking part. I would happily show her around if she comes to my city or at least advise her… (Though I’m better at food than monuments 😉 ). Even if she doesn’t, give her my email in case she needs anything and I can help (I don’t speak any of Swiss German dialects though, I prefer to warn at once 😉 ). I hope she will have lots of fun!

  5. Sissi, the presentation and of your unbaked sour cherry-cheesecake is superb, beautiful and divinely delicious!
    We cannot get quark cheese here in Florida, and some goes for the sour cherries. We’re lucky enough the get cherries from California all year-round, but super expensive, especially off-season!
    I imagine cream cheese and regular Bing cherries would be a close substitute for this amazing recipe but flavor cannot compare to the original!

    1. Thank you so much, Elisabeth. I am extremely flattered by your kind words. I wouldn’t advise American cream cheese. The closest thing would be using Greek yogurt (but not the low-kcal version). American cream cheese is too fatty and heavy I think.
      Of course any cherries can be used here.

  6. I love sour cherries too. This is such a beautiful dessert. 🙂 I love that you keep the ingredient simple and let them shine on their own.

  7. Sissi, what a beautiful and delicate dessert, I absolutely love the crust less and creamy cheesecake :), and yes, the sour cherries are just perfect…adds color and flavor.
    Hope you are having a great weekend 😀

  8. What a nice friend you have to share such a wonderful treat! Oh how I would love some of those black cherries! I haven’t seen them in years. We do get good sweet cherries, but not these. Love what you’ve done with them by incorporating them into one of your delicious cheesecakes. This looks SO good my friend!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. Yes, she is a very kind friend: she regularly brings me some Hungarian treats often given for me by her equally kind and generous mother! Sour cherries might lose popularity in Europe too because most people cannot eat them raw (not everyone is an acid food freak, like me!), and since fewer and fewer people make their own preserves… Nothing compares to a home-made sour cherry jam.

  9. Hi Sissi, I already mentioned to you how cool I thought this was! I’m a big cheesecake fan, and while I do love “traditional” cheesecakes with base and everything I’m certainly not averse to this style too (especially since it’s healthier, haha 🙂 ).

    I must say that in all honesty, this is the first “food” recipe using sour cherries I’ve ever seen. I’ve only ever seen them soaked in booze to create sour-cherry liquor, so it’s absolutely fantastic to get some ideas of other uses for them too. It looks so cold and light… I’d kill for a serving of it right now… it’s been hot, sticky and disgusting all day and I’m sitting on the couch right now feeling very “urgh”.

    1. Thank you so much again, Charles. It was so kind of you to feature and say so many compliments about my post on your facebook (I had a peek 🙂 .
      Many people put sour cherries in a clafoutis too (as long as they can get them! griottes are not obvious to get nowadays…) and I did it with a part of these cherries, but the cheesecake was the best idea. They haven’t lost any of their taste and this was important. If I lived in a country where sour cherries are easily available, I would prepare many cakes with them.
      I prepare sour cherry vodka (from frozen Serbian cherries) and even jams from these frozen fruits (as advised by you, I mean your mum! remember? I am very grateful for this advice).

    1. Thank you so much, Nipponnin. It can be prepared with any cherry, but I wanted to share with my readers my joy of having these sour jewels. This is my favourite fresh cheese: light, slightly tangy… but if you cannot find it, Greek yogurt is quite close in texture and taste.

  10. Cherries! Ohhhh this sounds wonderful, Sissi! Great combination, first. And quark! That’s the cheese you taught me! It’s so humid and hot here… I want to eat this for dinner, seriously. Don’t visit Japan in summer Sissi… 😉

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. This light cheesecake and sour cherries were very refreshing. I cannot imagine how hot summer must be in Japan… I was at the end of September and some days it was really hot and so humid. I’m sure you are having fun in spite of that!

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