March 25, 2011

Let Them Eat (Cheese) Cake

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Margaret's Morsels | Sour Cream Cherry Cheesecake

My husband isn't a fan of birthday cake.  In all the years we've been together, I only remember him asking for cake once.  He requested an ice cream cake made with white cake, vanilla ice cream and vanilla frosting.

When his birthday comes around -- like it did a few days ago -- he usually asks for cherry pie.  This year he requested a cherry dessert, but not cherry pie.  He asked for cherry cheesecake instead.

I have several cheesecake recipes, but my husband's favorite is Sour Cream Cherry Cheesecake.  Not only is it delicious, it starts with a mix so it's much faster -- and more economical -- to prepare than cheesecake made from scratch.

I'm bad about not writing down where I find a recipe.  I always think I'll remember, but my memory isn't what it used to be, especially with four boxes of untried recipes.  I'm trying to break this bad habit and indicated on the recipe it came from Sandra Lee.  Unfortunately, I don't remember if it came from her magazine, website, TV show or one of her books.  I made some changes to the method so the recipe reflects those changes.

If you've never heard of Sandra Lee, she's the author of a series of cookbooks called Semi-Homemade and hosts "Semi-Homemade Cooking" on the Food Network.  The semi-homemade philosophy is to use 70% ready made ingredients and 30% fresh ingredients to create a dish that tastes homemade.  This cheesecake recipe is a great example of semi-homemade cooking.

The recipe starts with a box of homestyle no bake cheesecake mix.  The mix includes graham cracker crumbs and a powdered cheesecake filling. Start by combining the graham cracker crumbs with melted butter -- I use margarine -- and sugar.  To keep from dirtying another bowl, I combine the ingredients in the spring-form pan and then press the mixture on the bottom of the pan.

Margaret's Morsels | Sour Cream Cherry Cheesecake

If you don't have a spring-form pan, you can use a pie plate or casserole dish, but make sure it's deep enough to hold the mixture.  I don't grease the pan because the melted butter is enough to keep the crust from sticking.

If you were following the directions on the box, the crust would be finished at this stage.  However, the recipe says to bake the crust for about 10 minutes.  Baking the crust makes the cheesecake taste homemade.

Margaret's Morsels | Sour Cream Cherry Cheesecake
The baked crust.

After the crust cools in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, it's time to mix up the filling.  The directions on the box only call for milk.  The semi-homemade recipe reduces the amount of milk and adds sour cream.  Most cheesecake recipes have sour cream either in the filling or on top so the addition gives the finished cheesecake a taste of authenticity.  I use low-fat sour cream, but you can use regular.  Don't use fat-free, though, because the cheesecake won't get firm enough to cut.

Put the filling on top of the crust.  Even though pie filling will go on top, the cheesecake is prettier if the filling is smooth.  The easiest way to do this is with an offset spatula.  An offset spatula has a bend in the blade which makes it ideal for smoothing cake batter or icing.

Margaret's Morsels | Sour Cream Cherry Cheesecake
The offset spatula is the one on the bottom.

Take the spatula and spread the filling around the cheesecake, turning the pan in a circle as you work.  The filling will end up looking something like this:

Margaret's Morsels | Sour Cream Cherry Cheesecake

The cheesecake goes in the refrigerator for several hours -- I leave it in there overnight -- to get firm.  I put the can of pie filling in the refrigerator at the same time.  That way the pie filling is cold when it's put on the cheesecake.

I use lite pie filling which isn't as flavorful as regular pie filling.  If you want to doctor up lite cherry pie filling, put it in a bowl and stir in 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and 1 tablespoon sugar.  This adds an extra burst of flavor.

Sandra Lee suggests slicing the cheesecake and spooning the pie filling over each slice.  I like to put the pie filling on top of the cheesecake a couple of hours before it's served.  If you use a spring-form pan, don't put the pie filling all the way to the edge of the pan.  If you do, the pie filling will slide off when you remove the collar.  It's best to put the filling to within 1/2-inch of the edge.

If you don't like cherries, you can substitute other flavors of pie filling or leave the cheesecake plain.  It's delicious either way.  It's good year round and is especially refreshing in the hot summer months.  It also makes a good substitute for birthday cake, but make sure you don't put candles on the top!

Margaret's Morsels | Sour Cream Cherry Cheesecake

Sour Cream Cherry Cheesecake
8 Servings

1 (11.2 oz.) pkg. homestyle no bake cheesecake mix
3/4 stick butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/3 cups cold milk
1/3 cup sour cream
1 (20 oz.) can cherry pie filling

Stir the crust mix with melted butter and sugar in a 9-inch spring-form pan until crumbs are moistened.  Press crumb mixture onto bottom of the pan. Bake at 350° until crust is set and golden brown around edges, about 10 minutes.  Pat down crust.  Refrigerate crust for 15 minutes or until cooled completely.

Combine cheesecake filling mix, milk and sour cream in a large bowl.  Beat for 2 minutes or until smooth.  Pour cheesecake filling mixture over crust. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight to get firm.  A couple of hours before serving, spread the pie filling over the cheesecake.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.   

© Margaret's Morsels


  1. My husband Is also not much of a birthday cake fan and requested a strawberry cheese cake. I was going to try my hand at baking one but sadly my oven quit on me a few days ago and the part to fix it isn't in yet so I had to find a nobake recipe. Next time I make it I will bake my crust but for today I couldn't :( I actually bought the strawberry no bake jello cheese cake and did it as your directions said (minus the baking) but instead of the pie filling I cut up a pound of fresh strawberries added sugar and let them sit in the fridge while the cheesecake set. Then I mixed together the strawberries in with the strawberry topping that came in the box and put it on the cake before serving and it looks and tastes amazing.
    Ashley B.~Tennessee

  2. Ashley, the cheesecake you made sounds delicious!!!!! I didn't even know there was a strawberry cheesecake mix! I'm definitely going to try it while fresh strawberries are in season. Hope you get your oven fixed soon. My oven died a couple of years ago and it took two weeks for the replacement to arrive. I didn't realize how much I used my oven until I didn't have one; there's only so much you can do with a stove top, microwave and crock-pot!