No-Bake Cheesecake with Bilberry Compote

"I'm not really a fan of baked cheesecakes, if I'm being honest."

Mr Flavour and I have been in each other's pockets for 17 years. He's repeated this refrain at least once a year, and yet I have never made anything other than baked cheesecakes.

“I’m not really a fan of baked cheesecakes, if I’m being honest.”

Mr Flavour and I have been in each other’s pockets for 17 years. He’s repeated this refrain at least once a year, and yet I have never made anything other than baked cheesecakes.

He eats them because he loves me, but really all he wants is a light, fluffy cheesecake with a crispy base.

A couple of months ago I decided maybe I should have a go at making him this much-lusted for cheesecake. I secretly hoped he would hate it so I could go back to the baked variety once more, but unfortunately it’s flipping delicious.

If you are lucky and you live near a boggy, peaty place you will probably have bilberries growing nearby as this the kind of soil they thrive in. Somewhere between a blackberry, blueberry and inky blackberry I only discovered this wild berry earlier on this year when we met a 77 year old man on a walk up a hill one day. They are also what finally sparked the inspiration to make this darned cheesecake for himself!

Bilberries may still be just about fruiting, but act fast. Ideally they are ready to pick from the end of July to the end of August. What is left after that depends on your fellow foragers and the birds.

One Sunday morning, Mr Flavour and I set off on one of our favourite walks. It was muggy, a little hazy but clear enough to know that once we reached the top, the views would be magnificent. It was a walk for the soul. We had just received the news that Mr Flavour’s uncle had finally lost his battle with lung cancer and had passed away. A nicer man you could never had met, all wide smiles, neat white hair, balding on top and perfectly pressed slacks. Mr Flavour spent much of his childhood summers hanging out with his cousins at their house. He felt the loss keenly, but as all men do they try to front it out. So off to the top of a hill we hiked.

About half way up, we were startled by the site of an elderly man, with white hair, balding on top and dressed in neatly pressed slacks, a short sleeved shirt and polished shoes. He was waist high in a thicket of shrubbery picking berries. “Have you had your breakfast yet?” he asked us. We had, but I was intrigued. “What are you eating there?” I asked. “I think their called Mulberries, they’re sweet – here, try one.”

If my own mother was stood there with us at that point, she’d be horrified. After all the time she’d spent about not talking to and accepting sweets from strangers, here we were doing both without a care in the world.

The mulberries turned out to be bilberries with thanks to some of my eagle-eyed friends on Facebook informing me of my error. We dined heartily with this white-haired man on the berries, and then we walked on ahead. At the top of this walk is a Celtic High Cross with the most amazing views all the way across the patchwork of farming lands all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. We stopped, Bilberry Man caught up with us, and started to tell us about how he lives in Skibbereen, is 77 years young, owns the same shop that was occupied by O’Donovan Rossa “..but shur, he only lasted four days, I’ve been there for four decades”, and travels to our spot of West Cork for the Latin Mass on Sunday’s.

As he bid farewell, I was afflicted with one of those awkward lumps in the throat. I couldn’t help but feel as though we had been visited by an angel. I’m not really into such things, but the fact of the news we had just received; the appearance of this man we happened across and how he was dressed, and how he had in a small way helped to lift our saddened spirits it just felt like we had.

We never asked his name, mores the pity, and we met him one other time on the way back down in yet another thicket of bilberries. “Come back with a jar before the end of August,” he said, “They’ll be fruiting up until then for sure.”

So that’s what we aimed to do. Two weeks later, on another hot, muddy Sunday walking up the hill, through the cool of the pine forests, the view and back down again. By the time we arrived back at the car, we had about two jam jars full. “Just enough to make a delicious compote”, I thought to myself. And of course, compotes sit very well on top of light fluffy cheesecakes.


  • 1 packet of ginger nut biscuits (I find that the Jacob’s variety makes for an excellent ginger hit in the base)
  • 120g butter, melted
  • 1 serving of gelatin (this could be grains or leaves. Make it to the packet instructions as you can also substitute for vegetarian gelatin if needs be)
  • 4 egg yolks beaten
  • 120g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 180ml milk
  • 500g of Macroom Buffalo Ricotta
  • 1 tblsp of vanilla bean paste
  • 4 egg whites, beaten to a stiff peak
  • 240g Whipped Cream
  • Jam Jar sized portion of bilberries, but can be substituted for blackberries also of course!


  • Line a standard spring form cake tin on the base with parchment paper and smear butter around the edges.
  • Place the ginger nuts in a plastic bag and bash the living hell out of them with a rolling pin. Alternatively, if you don’t have any stress issues to vent out, pop them in a processor and blitz to a chunky crumb – doesn’t have to be uniform.
  • Melt the butter and then mix in the biscuits. When all the crumb has been well coated with the butter, empty out in the cake tin, level off and press down firm. Place into the fridge to set hard – about 15mins.
  • Mix up the gelatin according to the packet ingredients and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Make the custard: Mix the egg yolks with the sugar, salt and milk and place in a heavy bottom pan. Over a low heat, stir the mixture constantly until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whatever you do, don’t leave it unattended and don’t be tempted to whack up the heat to make this happen quicker – you will just end up with sweet scrambled eggs and have to start all over again.
  • When the custard is ready, take it off the heat and pour in the gelatin. Mix thoroughly to combine and set aside.
  • Whisk your egg whites to a stiff peak and set aside.
  • In a bowl, spoon out the silky ricotta and break it down a little bit with a spoon. Pour in slowly the custard mixture, making sure everything mixes through with each addition.
  • Fold in the whipped cream, then the egg whites. You don’t have to be overly gentle with this, and you don’t have to mix it until there are no bits of fluffy egg whites eradicated. Just enough that they have been dispersed and mixed in.
  • Take out the chilled biscuit base from the fridge and pour the cheesecake mixture on top.
  • Give it a tap and a shake to make sure that it is all level and place back into the fridge to set. This will take an hour, but allow two!
  • While the cheesecake is setting make the compote.
  • Add a jam jar amount of bilberries to a pan. Add a dash of water and a pinch of sugar and cook down gently over a low heat for about 5 – 10 mins. The bilberries will start to break down, but try to keep some of their shape. Taste for sweetness and adjust. Allow to cool before placing on top of the cheesecake so as not to melt it!
  • When the cheesecake is ready, run a pallet knife around the edges of the tin to release the cheesecake prior to opening up the spring form – this will stop it from tearing.
  • Place the cheesecake on a suitably pretty cake stand or plate, and drizzle the compote over working from the inside out.
  • Cut a generous slice and serve with some cream – ideally pouring cream, but whatever floats your boat!
  • Great with Meadowsweet Gin Fizz – click the link to see that recipe on The Flavour Files!

Most of all, ENJOY!

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