Everyone needs a quick dessert recipe like this easy cherry almond cheesecake. this dessert is perfect for cookouts, movie nights in with the family, or just to satisfy that insatiable sweet tooth that comes along every now and then.
The best part about cherry almond cheesecake is its simplicity. Many of the ingredients do not require cooking, so you can spend more time with your family and friends and less time baking.
If you have ever had cherries and almonds together, you know their compatibility is undeniable. With the nuttiness of almonds, combined with the sweet, tart taste of fresh cherries, topping rich ricotta cheese filling, inside of an almond graham cracker crust, this dessert will be craved regularly by any who eat it. Luckily, the ease of assembling this beautiful, delicate dessert, makes it the perfect staple to add to your rotation of regularly used recipes.
What is in Cherry Almond Cheesecake?
- Graham crackers
- Toasted almonds
- Brown Sugar
- Ricotta cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Almond extract
- Brown sugar
- Corn starch
- Almond extract
More toasted almonds
(some folks like to add dark chocolate shavings or chocolate syrup as well.)
Do I need any specific tools to make this cheesecake?
The filling can require quite a vigorous mixing. Mixing by hand without an electronic mixer could cause arm aches, but it will definitely give you a good workout. You may want to use a stand mixer or an electronic hand mixer to avoid extra work and massive muscles. Be sure cream cheese is fully softened before working it into the other filling ingredients.
A food processor will also be helpful for blessing the graham crackers and the toasted almonds.
While toasting almonds can be quite easy, they can quickly get burnt if you are not careful. When toasting almonds, keep a close eye on them. When you are able to smell them easily, they are close to ready. You also might hear them start to make light popping noises. This means they are toasting. Be sure to remove them quickly and lay them flat on a room temperature plate to prevent further cooking.
I toast my almonds in a saucepan with no butter or added ingredients, because I love the way their natural flavor is amplified as you toast them, but you can add butter, other fats, and spices, or other ingredients to accompany the cherries and almonds in this cheesecake if you would like. Some nice spices or other ingredients include: cocoa powder, ghee, coconut oil, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, etcâ€¦
What if I donâ€™t have graham crackers?
No bake crusts are completely versatile, so donâ€™t sweat it if you do not have graham crackers. Graham crackers are just one of many no bake options.
Health conscious crusts typically include ingredients like granola, nuts, or even oatmeal, while less health conscious ingredients can include anything from chocolate chip cookies to ritz crackers with heaps of extra sugar to give it the sweetness you desire. For those on Keto or avoiding sugar, go with Keto-friendly cookies or graham crackers.
What if I donâ€™t have brown sugar?
The brown sugar can easily be replaced with a spoonful of honey, 2 TBSP of regular sugar, or you can use the keto-friendly sweetener of your choice. I love the way the brown sugar tastes caramel-like when it melts, so I feel it is the best option if you plan to bake your crust. If not, any sugar substitute will work.
Do I need to bake my crust?
Honestly, no. Your crust should solidify enough to hold its texture when served with the proper pie slicer. Baking does help to meld the ingredients together as the sugar melts and coats the graham cracker and nut mixture, making its texture slightly more sturdy. However, baking is not necessary.
The downside to baking your crust is a longer wait time. You will need to wait until your crust is room temperature before adding your filling.
Refrigerating the pie before adding filling can also help the crust set up nicely and provide a nice foundation for your cheesecake.
What if I do not have/like ricotta cheese?
I love the fluffy, pillowy texture that ricotta cheese adds to this cherry almond cheesecake, but if you are not a fan of ricotta, or if you do not have access to it, more cream cheese, yogurt, mascarpone cheese, or even sweetened sour cream or Crema Mexicana can be added in place of ricotta cheese.
Ricotta cheese has a natural sweetness and a thick, creamy texture, so you may need to add thickening agents or extra honey/sweetener to get your desired consistency and taste.
Can I add more flavor to my filling?
I wanted to keep my cheesecake simple and celebrate the almond flavor most, but you can add any flavor that you feel will pair nicely with the cherry topping. Many ingredients beautifully pair with and compliment cherries. Here are a few ideas:
Melted dark chocolate cooled and poured into the ricotta mixture will play along with the bitter decadence of the cherries. (Add chocolate shavings on top for extra richness and delight.)
Brandy pairs nicely with cherries and it gives your filling a boozy punch.
Similarly, Grand Marnier adds spirit to your filling. This comes in different varieties (even cherry flavored), so you can play up the fruity flavor of your choice.
Vanilla beans and vanilla extract add a nuanced, natural sweetness to ricotta.
Other citruses that pair nicely with cherries like orange and lime would be a great addition to your filling. Be creative. You could even make a cherry limeade cheesecake.
Coconut flavoring also pairs nicely with cherries, so rum or coconut extract could be a delicious addition to this dessert.
Time for the topping…
How to pit a cherry…
If you are using fresh cherries, and you do not have a cherry pitter (like me), the best method I have found for cherry pit removal requires one tool: a wooden skewer. That’s right. The long wooden sticks you use for shish kabobs. Here are the steps to follow for cherry pit removal with a skewer:
- Remove cherry stems.
- Insert the wide end of the skewer through the hole where the stem once was.
- press skewer down while pulling the cherry towards you, and the stem should pop out.
Working with cornstarch
Using cornstarch can be tricky. Be sure to mix cold water with the cornstarch in a separate container before adding it to your cherries or other fruit mixtures. This cornstarch slurry. keeps the cornstarch from creating powdery lumps in your topping.
Cornstarch does have a somewhat floury flavor to it, so you will want to mix enough liquid with it to tamper down this taste. You also have to be careful not to add too much liquid or your filling will not thicken properly.
Add water slowly, maybe a tablespoon at a time, stirring frequently. Once your slurry looks thick with extra viscosity and no lumps, you are all set to add it to your topping.
Make the topping your own:
Substituting or adding other berries is always welcome. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and the like are all beautiful pairings with cherries. Also, try adding pears. They add an extra taste of vanilla-like goodness to your cheesecake.
A nut medley might also be a nice addition to this dessert. I love toasted almonds and cherries together, but I know pairing cherries with hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans, or walnuts would also be delectable.
Coconut shavings, whether sweetened or unsweetened, toasted on top of this beautiful dessert would give it a tropical twist and also play up the other nutty flavors.
The Finishing Touches…
Before serving, an additional squeeze of lemon will brighten the cherry taste of your dessert, and a drizzle of honey will bring this cherry almond cheesecake into a new realm of delight.
Some folks like adding shaved chocolate, powdered sugar, a drizzle of chocolate sauce or caramel, or even fresh berries to finish off their delicious, easy cherry almond cheesecake.
What should I serve with my Easy Cherry Almond Cheesecake?
This dessert is an excellent treat after an Italian dinner. Think, easy spaghetti meets with easy cherry almond cheesecake and you have yourself a delicious evening.
When serving as a dessert course for friends, I like to set my easy cherry almond cheesecake out with pieces of dark chocolate, an assorted nut tray, and fresh fruits, creating a dessert tray where my guests can try pairing a variety of flavors with their cheesecake.
If I am feeling especially fancy, I might set out some dessert cheeses like chÃ¨vre, hard goats’ milk cheese, and Bree. (These cheeses are also delicious with a smattering of cherry topping or Apple butter on the top.)
I also love eating this dessert after having cherry barbecue sauce on grilled meats, because To me, something about an easy dessert, and a delicious barbecue sauce just screams, “summer cookout!” Also, the flavor profile of the cherries continues on your palate, making the meal feel cohesive.
If you are looking for a nice cocktail pairing for this dessert, a cherry vodka sour will play nicely with your cheesecake without overwhelming you with syrupy sweetness. For the younger crowd, this cherry limeade is sure to be a hit.
- The Crust:
- 12-14 graham crackers
- The crust:
- A handful of toasted almonds
- 7 TBSP butter
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1 sprinkle of nutmeg
- The filling:
- 15 oz. Ricotta cheese
- 1 package cream cheese
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 TSP almond extract (or more to taste)
- 1/4 cup of Honey
- The Topping:
- 2 cups cherries
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 TBSP corn starch
- 1 TBSP (or more) water
- A small drop of Almond extract
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- The Finishing Touches:
- More toasted almonds
For The Crust:
- On the stove top, toast a handful of almonds in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Once almonds begin to smell cooked, brown a little, and start making light popping noises, remove them to a plate so they will stop cooking. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Add graham crackers and toasted almonds to a food processor and blitz for about 20 seconds or until mixture has a crummy texture.
- Pour your crum mixture into a large bowl.
- Melt butter for one minute (or until it turns into liquid) in the microwave.
- Add melted butter to your crum mixture; stir in nutmeg and brown sugar until well blended.
- If you are baking your crust, turn oven to 375 degrees farenheit. Once oven is preheated, bake the crust for about 10 minutes. (Let crust come to room temperature before adding your filling.) If you are not baking, place crust in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to allow crust set firmly.
For The Filling:
- Allow cream cheese to soften and bring ricotta cheese to room temperature.
- Add ricotta cheese, cream cheese, lemon juice, almond extract and honey to a mixer and mix until soft peaks form and all ingredients are blended.
- Once crust has cooled or set, spread cheesecake filling on top of your crust.
- Add cherries, brown sugar, and almond extract to pot and cook down on medium heat for 8-10 minutes. (When cherries just begin to break down and juices start to form.)
- 8 minutes in, mix cornstarch and water together to make a cornstarch slurry. Once cornstarch and water are combined add to the cooking cherries.
- Continue cooking down the cherries and cornstarch for 1-3 more minutes (until cherry juices begin to thicken.)
- Remove cherries from heat; add a squeeze of lemon juice; and allow cherries to cool to room temperature or refrigerate before adding them to your cheesecake.
The Finishing Touches:
Toast a handful of almonds and add them to your dessert.