Chatelaine Kitchen

Five easy, no-bake crusts for the holidays

Next time you're whipping up batches of squares or even a cheesecake, try these alternative crusts for a fast and tasty change!

Blueberry-lemon cheesecake bars recipePhoto by Roberto Caruso

Blueberry-lemon cheesecake bars recipe
Photo by Roberto Caruso

There are certain classic desserts you wouldn’t dream of cutting corners on, while for others a shortcut can be harmless, and even better! Here are five no-bake crust ideas to substitute for your homeade pastry. Don’t get me wrong, a good-old apple pie will always deserve a nice flaky pastry, but next time you’re whipping up batches of squares or even a cheesecake, try these alternative crusts for a fast and tasty change.

Lemon_coconut_shortbread_squares_1-0-l

Lemon-coconut shortbread bars

1. Looking for a shortcrust? Crumbled shortbread cookies make a fantastic buttery base and save the work of blending the flour, sugar and butter. They also don’t require any baking.

To make: Process enough shortbread cookies to make 2 cups of crumbs (about 300g). Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter. Press into the bottom of a baking dish (8×8 or 9×9 will work) or the bottom of a tart pan and chill until firm. If you want the cookie crust to be crispy, bake in the centre of the oven at 350F for 10 min, or until golden. Add filling and proceed with the recipe. This cheater shortbread crust will work perfectly for these lemon-coconut shortbreads.

Pumpkin_chocolate-cheesecake-bars-1-l

Pumpkin-chocolate cheesecake bars

2. Crumbled chocolate wafer cookies make an amazing rich, chocolaty crust. These are a common choice for chocolate desserts, but to switch things up try using them with fruit desserts. Chocolate wafer bases are great with lemon or berry fillings, as well as dulce de leche and even pumpkin.

To make: Process enough chocolate wafer cookies to make 2 cups of crumbs. Stir in 1/3 – 1/2 cup melted butter. Press into the bottom of a baking dish (8×8 or 9×9 will work) or the bottom of a tart pan and chill until firm. Add filling and proceed with recipe. Use chocolate crumbs as a base for these pumpkin-chocolate cheesecake bars.

Yvonne Duivenvoorden

Yvonne Duivenvoorden

3. Graham cracker crumbs have been always been the go-to cookie crust, and for good reason. I argue a graham cracker crust tastes better than the graham crackers themselves. Be creative with how you use them; they’re great for more than just cheesecakes.

To make: Process enough graham cookies to make 2 cups of crumbs (or purchase the crumbs). Stir in 1/3 cup melted butter. Press into the bottom of a baking dish (8×8 or 9×9 will work) or the bottom of a tart pan and chill until firm. Add filling and proceed with recipe. We all love chocolate covered graham crackers right? So try this crust with these chunky chocolate and cherry bars.

Sky-high pumpkin pie

Sky-high pumpkin pie

4. If you’ve ever wondered how good a gingersnap crust is, all you need to do is bake our sky-high pumpkin pie! Adding a ginger crust is sometimes all you need to elevate your dessert. Don’t mess with the filling, just bump up the crust! This crust is also great with lemon meringue pie.

To make: Process enough gingersnap cookies to make 2 cups of crumbs. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter. Press into the bottom of a baking dish (8×8 or 9×9 will work) or the bottom of a tart pan and chill until firm. Add filling and proceed with recipe.

5. If you’re looking for a sweet and slightly chewy texture, ground amaretti cookies make for a lovely almond flavoured crust. They tend to be very sweet so are better suited to less-sweet desserts. Their almond flavour makes them naturally suited to raspberry, peach or other fruit desserts.

To make: Process enough amaretti cookies to make 2 cup of crumbs. Stir in 1/3 cup melted butter. Press into the bottom of a baking dish (8×8 or 9×9 will work) or the bottom of a tart pan and chill until firm. Add filling and proceed with recipe. Use amaretti crumbs as a base for Blueberry-lemon cheesecake bars (shown above.)

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