Cherry Cheesecake is a classic Valentine’s Day dessert. It’s red so it fits the color theme of the day. It’s rich and decadent. And lastly, you can justify the calories as it’s Valentine’s Day which only comes once a year.
I know that fancy flavored cheesecakes like salted caramel chocolate-pecan or pumpkin spice are more popular now, but you can buy those ready-made or order them in a restaurant if you want to try a piece. For real cheesecake I prefer the no-bake variety, from a recipe I inherited from my mother in the eighties – it’s quick, easy and delicious, not to mention rich and creamy. I find many baked cheesecakes tend to be on the dry side. I think the recipe originated on the side of the Philadelphia cream cheese box. My mother often made this as an Easter dessert but one year she bought the onion-flavored cream cheese by mistake, and my SIL took the first bite and said, well this certainly tastes different! Needless to say, the rest of it went in the garbage. For a crowd, she would double the ingredients and make it in a long 9X13 glass pan, so it was quite a waste.
So, let’s travel back to the decade when hair was big, shoulder pads were bigger, music was loud and cholesterol didn’t exist. You can throw this cheesecake together in five minutes, because as an Eighties Chick you have more important things to do, like listen to rock and roll! (Musical interlude – insert your 80’s song of choice here)
One 6oz. round ready-made graham cracker pie crust (unless you prefer to make your own and/or have a heart shaped pan).
1 can (14 oz – 420ml) sweetened condensed milk (Do not confuse with evaporated milk – Canadian cans are 300ml so I had to buy two cans and waste half)
1 package (8 oz – 250g) Philadelphia cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
1/3 cup lemon juice – bottled or fresh (or to taste. When I googled this old recipe there were some complaints about 1/3 cup being too much and making it too runny, some people used 1/4 cup (60ml) or even less, so I started at 30ml and adjusted to taste using about 60ml total, but I think I could have used the 80ml. My lemon juice was a mixture of water, lemon juice and lemon oil. You have to add some lemon juice to cut the sweetness.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can (21 oz – 540ml ) cherry pie filling (I like E.D. Smith brand, the Regular one not the or Light and Fruity which has 1/3 less sugar and calories but a tarter taste. I wouldn’t want to calculate the overall calorie count and saturated fat percentage for this dessert as in the 80’s we didn’t worry about those things. A night of dancing would wear that off in no time.)
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.
Beat in sweetened condensed milk.
Add lemon juice and vanilla and stir until well mixed.
Pour filling into crust and chill for 2-3 hours – it will be softer than a baked cheesecake.
Top with cherry pie filling. I often don’t do this until a few hours before serving, to make sure the mixture has set properly. Really the whole thing is better made the day before to allow the flavours to blend.
I made this for a Harvest Tea several years ago pre-pandemic and the Group of Six art ladies really enjoyed it.
Happy Valentine’s Day!