Black Licorice & Orange No-Bake Cheesecake

I admit this recipe will appeal to a very limited audience, but I happen to adore black licorice. I always chose licorice ice cream when we were taken to the ice cream parlor as a child, and remember fondly the bowls of orange and black jelly beans that were put out for our Halloween parties.

I couldn’t resist running with that theme!

Which means I made this a little harder than it needs to be, because I wanted to actually use jelly beans to flavor my cheesecake. I also hoped that the pectin (or whatever is used to make them gummy) would help thicken my cheesecake, because there’s nothing worse than a no-bake cheesecake that doesn’t set properly.

My hope of covering all the bases (flavor, color, texture) with jelly beans may have been slightly optimistic. I ended up adding a little additional color, and found that unless you prefer subtle flavoring (I don’t), you’ll probably need to boost that too. I added orange zest to the orange layer and mashed licorice sticks to the licorice. (Easy to do . . . you’ll see.)

And . . . licorice has a way of turning green. And purple. You’ll need some serious black food coloring for this job! A final deep gray color was acceptable.

I used vodka for soaking the beans, assuming it would dissolve them more quickly than water. I’m not a lush, honest! It’s just that there are such fun flavors available in the liquor store. Pernod would be great for the licorice layer, and Grand Marnier for the orange. Sadly, I had neither, so if you go that route, please let me know how it tasted.

For an alcohol-free version, substitute orange juice for the booze when you soak the orange jelly beans, and Stash Licorice Spice tea (or just plain water) for the black jelly beans.

And, of course, you can always skip the jelly beans altogether (though DO use some to decorate your cheesecake) and simply use anise flavoring and black food color for the licorice layer, and orange flavoring and orange food color for the orange layer.

Black Licorice & Orange No-Bake Cheesecake
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This cheesecake needs to be refrigerated for a minimum of 10 hours before serving. Add any whipped cream decorations just before serving.
Ingredients
  • ORANGE MIXTURE:
  • 10 orange jelly beans, cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons vodka (or Grand Marnier or orange juice)
  • zest from one orange (zest orange and set aside to add to batter)
  • orange food coloring and flavoring, if desired
  • LICORICE MIXTURE:
  • 3 tablespoons vodka (or Pernod, licorice tea, or water)
  • 10 black licorice jelly beans, cut in half
  • 6 black licorice twists (I used Red Vines brand)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Black food coloring (powdered is best, but paste is okay - don't expect a true black color!)
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups finely-crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • CHEESECAKE
  • 16 ounces cream cheese (full fat, room temperature)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • DRIZZLE:
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
Instructions
  1. Separate orange and black jelly beans into two small cups. Add 3 tablespoons vodka (or liquid of choice) to each. Cover lightly and set aside for at least 2 hours.
  2. Chop up licorice twists and place in a small cup. Add water. Cover lightly and set aside for at least 2 hours.
  3. Combine all ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl, mixing well. Press evenly into an 8-inch springform pan. Make sure you press it very firmly. Use a flat-bottomed measuring cup for best results. Place in the refrigerator.
  4. Drain the orange jelly beans, reserving the liquid and discarding any remaining jelly bean carcasses. Do the same with the black jelly beans. Set aside.Carefully drain the chopped licorice, but this time KEEP THE LICORICE and throw away the liquid. Mash licorice gently with a spoon and set aside. .
  5. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream and powdered sugar, and beat for 2 minutes.
  6. Add lemon juice and mix well.
  7. Remove 1⅓ cups of the batter and place in a separate medium bowl.
  8. Add 1 tablespoon of orange liquid to one of the bowls, and the orange zest. If you want to add orange coloring or flavoring, do so now. Stir well. Set aside.
  9. Add 1 tablespoon of black liquid to the other bowl, and the mashed licorice twists.
  10. Mix well, then add black coloring until it is the desired shade. NOTE: Don't throw away the remaining orange and black liquid. It will be used to make a drizzle for the top of the cheesecake.
  11. In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Divide between both bowls and fold in gently.
  12. Remove springform pan from the refrigerator and carefully spread the licorice mixture into the pan, smoothing all the way to the edges.(Using an offset spatula helps.) Add the orange mixture to the top of the licorice layer and smooth evenly.
  13. (Optional) In a small sauce pan, combine the remaining orange liquid and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens (about 1 minute). Hold the pan high over the cheesecake and drizzle the syrup over the top. Repeat with the licorice liquid.
  14. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours. (It can be made a day ahead.) Carefully run a sharp knife between the crust and the side of the pan.before releasing the outer ring. Decorate with whipped cream and jelly beans (maybe sprinkles, too?) right before serving.
  15. This is delicious frozen, too. If you want to freeze it, wait until it is completely set, then wrap it well.

Chop up licorice twists. I used Red Vines Brand. (I can’t guarantee Twizzlers would “melt” the same way.)

Soak chopped licorice twists in water for 2 hours. They will turn to mush, which is exactly what you want. Drain and discard liquid – mash and save the licorice.

Soak the jelly beans for 2 hours before draining. Keep that liquid!

Mix crust ingredients together well. Press into 8-inch springform pan. Refrigerate.

Beat cream cheese well. Add sour cream and powdered sugar. Beat for 2 minutes

Add lemon. (I know it sounds weird with licorice, but don’t skip this!)

Whip it! Whip it good! You want to see stiff peaks form.

Divide into two equal portions. Add licorice to one and orange to the other. Add additional coloring or flavoring if you wish. Gently fold in the whipped cream.

Spread licorice on crust.

Top with the orange layer.

If you’d like, you can briefly cook the remaining orange and black liquids with a little sugar to make a drizzle. (Or I’ll bet it would be great in tea.) Sprinkles would look good, too.

If you’ve read this far, you must be a true licorice lover. You have just enough time to run to the store and get the ingredients so you can make it the day before Halloween. Shoo! Shoo!

Lorinda

2 thoughts on “Black Licorice & Orange No-Bake Cheesecake

  1. I’m a faithful reader — your writing is so charming — so I read through the whole column. But you’re right that I will never make this. Or maybe just the orange layer? That one does sound tasty. And I’m amazed, as ever, at your creativity.

  2. Haha, I’ll forgive you for not loving this flavor combination. The orange flavor was actually dominant, so you may have liked it, but there’s no reason you couldn’t just make an orange version!
    I appreciate your faithful comments more than you can imagine <3

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