Tuesday 30 November 2010

My "Dream" Cherry Cheesecake

When I grew up, Mom made this from time to time as a family treat. Considering my childhood dates back to the 50's, it would seem this recipe has been floating around for years.

During my travels, I have eaten a lot of different cheesecakes but this recipe is unique in how it is so different from traditional cheesecake. Oddly enough, I had eaten Mom's recipe exclusively as a kid so in my teens when somebody finally served me a regular cheesecake, I first said, "What the heck is this?" I thought all cheesecake was like Mom's!

To this day, I must admit that whenever I bite into a cheesecake, in the back of my mind is the memory of what Mom made so my taste buds express a little disappointment. I have to mentally prepare my sense of taste for accommodating the flavour of the traditional cheesecake. Ha!

So, to the diehard purists, this is not a traditional cheesecake. In fact, somebody may argue that the only thing cheesy about this is how this recipe is very much a poor man's... or poor woman's cheesecake. Nevertheless, it's easy; it's fast and judging by the reactions from people, it's good. There is no cooking so this one can even be left to the last minute.

  • 1 ½ cups of graham cracker crumbs
    Or 2 cups if you like a thicker crust.
  • 1/3 cup of margarine
  • 2 envelopes of Dream Whip
    Yes, the "dream" in my "dream" cherry cheesecake turns out to be Dream Whip. Ha!
  • 1 cup of milk; ½ cup for each envelope
  • one 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • 1 can of cherry pie filling

Puttin' it all together
For the base, mix the graham cracker crumbs and the margarine together. The original recipe from Mom added brown sugar to the mix but personally, I found things to be sweet enough so I always leave this out. Spread out the mixture into a rectangular pie dish making sure it is evenly tamped down. You want the mixture just on the bottom of the dish, not on the sides.

You want the crust to be somewhat hard; after all, you are going to cut this and want to be able to serve it with a cake knife. If you are doing this at the very last second, you can stick the entire dish in the freezer for 10 minutes in an effort to solidify the mixture.

Mix up the 2 envelopes of Dream Whip according to the instructions; this entails one cup of milk; that is ½ cup of milk per envelope. You'll need a mixing bowl and a beater but if you have an electric beater, so much the better. A half teaspoon of vanilla for each envelope is mentioned but I always leave this out. Okay, I'm a lazy cook but I can say that nobody has complained!

By the way, the original recipe included icing sugar. Believe me, you don't need it. This thing is already sweet enough to throw your recommended daily intake of sugar off for a week.

Once you have the Dream Whip whipped up which means it is now thick, you want to blend in the cream cheese. If you're doing this with a hand beater, you're going to want to do this a piece at a time until you've put in the entire package. If you have an electric beater, heck, throw in the whole package at once! Let's let the machine do all the work!

Spread your Dream Whip mixture evenly over the crust.

Now, the original recipe talks about refrigerating this to help it solidify. If you've got the time, go for it. But if this is a last minute panic, you can once again make use of the freezer. If you are really, really pressed, go on to the next step.

Spread the can of cherry pie filling over the Dream Whip mixture. If you're doing this in one go, be careful. The Dream Whip will not have the hardest of consistencies so you want to make sure that in spreading out the cherry mixture you do not end up inadvertently blending the two mixtures. With the Dream Whip soft, there is a tendency of having the cherry filling mix with the Dream Whip instead of spreading out over top of it. This is supposed to be three layers: crust, whipped middle and cherries. Try to keep it that way.

True Story: The crust
Years ago I whipped this dessert together for the family when we had some guests. I did include the brown sugar and I think in "winging it", I inadvertently used too much brown sugar and butter. When I got around to serving it, I literally could not cut the graham cracker crust. I ended up having to get a butcher's knife and had to saw my way through the crust in order to serve up the pieces. I think it was even dangerous to bite down on the crust; you had to suck it for a bit before chewing it.

I was slightly embarrassed in front of our guests but everybody in the family found this quite funny especially since I am well known for not being much of a cook. Afterwards, we were laughing about my blunder but the kids claimed it was the best crust ever! They apparently enjoyed sucking on the pieces of hardened graham cracker crust.

Final Word
I admit to not being a cook. Consequently, if I can do this, anybody can do this. The plus side of the recipe is, once again, that you can whip this one up at the last minute and have something of a reasonable quality. I know those aficionados of traditional cheesecake are probably going to be horrified but as I said, this is what I grew up on so for me this is really what "cheesecake" is.

Bon app├ętit. :-)

Note: My apologies to dltk-kids.com. They had the perfect image of this type of cheesecake so I... ah, borrowed it.


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