Cheesecake might be one of my favorite desserts. It foregrounds a top-tier food group (dairy) and it doesn’t require me to make a pastry crust, something I hate doing with every fiber of my being. The iconic cake of cheese typically rests on a crumbled crust, usually made of graham crackers. But it can be nice to switch things up, especially if you used all your graham crackers to make something else (like these meatballs).
For a flavored cheesecake, switch out the graham crackers for a cookie that matches the chosen vibe, or keep the filling plain and choose a more adventurous cookie for a slight, respectful spin on a classic. I’ve (obviously) got some cookie suggestions for you, but feel free to play around with whatever strikes your fancy as you browse the grocery store aisles. Just make sure you reach for a fairly crisp and crumbly cookie that will generate fine, powdery crumbs that will soak up butter. Then, assemble your crust as usual.
Get spicy with snaps
Ginger and lemon are two flavors that play exceptionally well with rich cream cheese. Either flavor offers a counterbalance to all that luscious fat, while the spicy ginger snaps can bring a more intense holiday vibe to your end-of-year treats. My two favorite brands of gingersnaps both hail from Sweden. Anna’s Thins are crisp and intensely flavored, and come in ginger, almond, and orange. IKEA also makes an incredible snap that The Kitchn recommends heartily:
The cookies have a rich ginger flavor with a nice snap and crunch. They aren’t too sweet and don’t crumble as easily as graham crackers, which is perfect for making a sturdy cheesecake crust that can handle just a little more butter.
As someone with deep respect for people and things that can handle more butter, I will be snagging a pack the next time I bop in for a HEMNES or a few FRIKOSTIG. (Grab some lingonberry jam to round out your IKEA cheesecake.)
Get weird with Oreos
Utilizing plain Oreos in a cheesecake crusts (or Famous Chocolate Wafers, if you can find them) is a standard move, but the food scientists at Nabisco cannot leave well enough alone, and that’s a good thing. Not all of their creations work—I’m still mad about Swedish Fish Oreos—but a few of them absolutely fuck…in a cheesecake context. Cinnamon bun, carrot cake, lemon, mint (for a chocolate cheesecake), and pumpkin spice are along the weirder Oreo flavors that work well in crust form. Don’t bother to scrape the filling out first; it helps the crust stick together.
Soar high with airplane cookies
I will forever associate Biscoff cookies with airplanes, as that is where I (and many others) first had the pleasure of putting them in my mouth. They’re heavy on ginger and cinnamon, with notes of deeply caramelized brown sugar. In short: The perfect pairing for a cheesecake with a tangy cream cheese topping.
Build a tall cheesecake on shortbread
My father has a confusing aversion to chocolate chip cookies, but the man loves Pecan Sandies. The buttery, nutty, slightly salty cookies are difficult to put down, making your cheesecake a little harder to stop eating after a single slice. Plain shortbread also works, but I like the nutty boost the Sandies bring. If you want to lean in to the holiday vibe, grab a tin of Danish butter cookies (and use the leftovers to make Danish butter cookie butter).