Often when the warmer weather rolls around, my mind goes to the fun summer shindigs where layered desserts are the desserts of choice – at least in our family. From my Oreo Delight, to my Blueberry Yum Yum, to my Pineapple Dream, I just love those 9×13 recipes that are quick, easy, and give you that sweetness for dessert that we crave so often.
And while this Caramel Pecan No-Bake Cheesecake might not have all the layers that the others I mentioned do, this one IS made in a 9×13-inch baking dish, is completely no-bake, and is the perfect dessert for those summer gatherings!
When it comes to making this dessert, it’s super easy! But a few tips never hurt, so let’s jump in…
Room temperature cream cheese is a must. And making sure to mix it well first is an even mustier. (Yes, I know that’s not correct usage of that word, but half y’all don’t read this stuff anyway! ????) Both of these steps allow the cream cheese to get softer which helps it to more evenly mix with the whipped topping. So, let it get to room temperature and then beat it good.
But don’t beat it too much when you add the whipped topping. Ok, can I just call it Cool Whip? We all know that’s what I’m talking about. You can actually beat the Cool Whip to the extent that it could collapse and turn into a runny mess, so mix it just enough to get it all combined.
For the crust (and topping), I used a family size package of the Keebler Pecan Sandies Shortbread Cookies to make it super easy. A standard size just didn’t give us enough crumbs for the crust and the topping. If you can’t find the family size, two of the regular size (I think they’re 11.3-ounce) packages will work. You’ll need 32 cookies in total to make this. And yes, the generic version of the cookies works just as well.
The additional salt in the crust is optional, but I find it helps to enhance the flavor and cuts through the sweetness of the dessert a bit. It’s entirely up to you whether to add it or not.
That hardest thing with this recipe is getting the crust pressed down into the baking dish – and even that isn’t hard. The trick is to make sure you get it pressed down good so the crust will stay together once you cut the pieces. For me, I like using the bottom of a 1/2-cup dry measuring cup to press it firmly down.
Another shortcut is using a jarred caramel sauce. You know… the kind you put on ice cream. Now I’ve seen some really great, fancier salted caramel sauces in the grocery store lately and any of those should work as well. You could also leave the caramel off entirely, but I don’t want to put crazy thoughts in your head. ????
Caramel Pecan No-Bake Cheesecake
- 1 (17.2-ounce) family size package Pecan Sandies Shortbread Cookies (32 cookies)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 (16-ounce) container frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip), thawed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (12.25-ounce) jar caramel sauce or ice cream topping (about 1 cup)
- Use a food processor or food chopper to crush the cookies into crumbs. Optionally, you can place the cookies in a large ziptop bag and crush them using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Reserve 1 cup of the crumbs for the topping and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the crushed cookies with the melted butter and salt. Stir to combine, ensuring the cookie crumbs are well coated. Pour the mixture evenly into a 9x-13-inch baking dish and firmly press to create the crust. I like to use the bottom of a 1/2-cup dry measuring cup for this. Set aside.
- Use a mixer to combine the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and well blended. Gradually add the whipped topping and mix after each addition - being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix well.
- Spread the mixture evenly over the crust. Pour the caramel sauce over the top of the cheesecake filling and then sprinkle the reserved 1 cup of cookie crumbs over the top. Cover and refigerate to allow the cheesecake to set. Slice and serve.