You’ll taste the difference in this no-bake cherry cheesecake pie that doesn’t use preservative filled canned pie filling or packaged dessert topping.
As a kid, I loved the cherry cheesecake that was sometimes a treat at Sunday dinner. In those days, the recipe probably came off the back of a Philly Cream Cheese package or box of Dream Whip which were the essential ingredients.
Essential too, was the can of cherry pie filling that went on top. I remember my mom always picked out the cherries because she didn’t like the texture of biting into them. I always thought that was odd, but hey, extra cherries for me!
Tastes change over time and I haven’t used packaged dessert topping mixes or canned pie filling in a couple of decades. We mostly avoid processed foods and especially food preservatives in all our family’s cooking and baking now.
I did taste one of those cheesecakes from my childhood a while back and thought that the pie filling tasted very chemically and artificial. When I looked at the can on the shelf shortly thereafter, the list of unpronounceable ingredients was alarmingly long. It was then that I thought of making my own new version of my childhood favourite.
I used the regular graham cracker crumb crust of course. I still love anything with a graham cracker crust and my daughter Olivia definitely inherited that fondness. The cream cheese filling uses real whipping cream now, instead of packaged dessert topping and the cherry topping is made from fresh bing cherries.
We had this one for a Sunday dinner dessert a little while back and it certainly did bring back memories. Not to knock Mom’s cherry cheesecakes from years ago, but I think this one actually tastes much better.
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- 1 3/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 1 pound of cream cheese 2 eight ounce packages
- 1 cup icing sugar powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups pitted fresh or frozen sweet cherries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 rounded tablespoon corn starch + 1/4 cup water
Make the topping first because it has to cool to room temperature.
In a small saucepan, add the cherries, 1/2 cup water, sugar and vanilla extract.
Bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the 1/4 cup of water and slowly stir into the boiling cherries. Stir constantly until the cherries begin to simmer again, then cook for only a minute longer.
Remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. It is not recommended to cool this mixture quickly in the fridge because you can set the corn starch which will affect the appearance of the finished cheesecake.
Lightly grease a 10 inch deep dish pie pan. (This recipe can also be made in a 9x9 pan if you prefer, with the graham crust only at the bottom and then served in squares.)
Mix together the graham crumbs, sugar and hot melted butter. Press evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie pan.
Remove 3 rounded tbsp of the icing sugar from the 1 cup you have measured. Add the 3 tbsp icing sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer along with the vanilla extract and whipping cream. Beat together to firm peaks, then transfer the whipped cream to a separate bowl.
Now add the remaining powdered sugar and the cream cheese to the electric mixer bowl and cream together well until smooth and the cream cheese is well softened.
Add about 1/2 cup of the whipped cream to the softened cream cheese mixture and beat again until smooth. (This step helps soften the cream cheese mixture a little more for the next step)
Finally fold in the remaining whipped cream by hand until smooth, using a rubber or silicone spatula.
Spread the filling evenly into the prepared crust and chill in the fridge.
When the cherry topping has cooled to room temperature, spoon it evenly over the filling and chill for several hours before serving. If you have the time, make this cheesecake a day in advance to get the best set on the cheesecake filling.
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