Dinner guests coming tonight. That means I am cleaning, making flower arrangements, and planning the salad and dessert. These guests say they like everything, but really they are quite persnickety about their desserts. I am making them something extra special. Something we don't have too often. Something made with very challenging, complex ingredients.
Something straight out of my childhood. When we were growing up and mom made this for us we were like a pack of wild dogs waiting to pounce on a bone. Supper couldn't get over with fast enough so we could get at this. In our house there was no such thing as left-over dessert. We would each sneak into the kitchen and sliver by sliver it would disappear before you knew it. If we passed each other on the way into or out of the kitchen we looked the other way, pretended like we had been getting a sip of water - or feeding the cat.
I present to you the one, the only, Ice Box Cheesecake. Get that heavy, rich, traditional cheesecake idea out of your mind. This is light and fluffy, with the mild flavor of lemon. It's not too tart and not overly sweet. Really it's the perfect summer dessert. If you can serve it on your mom's wedding china that's best. It tastes like only the best parts of being a kid again. If I close my eyes when I take a bite I am back in Panama and it's 1972.
Recipe: Ice Box Cheese Cake
Crust: 30 graham crackers crushed + 1 stick butter + 1 Tbsp sugar + 2 Tbsp milk - mix in and press in bottom of 9x13 pan.
Filling: 1 small box jello (I like lemon best, but also great with lime or strawberry) + 1 squirt lemon juice + 1 cup boiling water - dissolve together and cool. In another bowl beat 8oz cream cheese with 1 cup sugar and 1tsp vanilla. Chill beaters, bowl, and 1 can evaporated milk in freezer then beat milk until fluffy. Add cool jello to cream cheese and then add whipped milk. Mix until combined and pour over crust. Chill several hours before serving. Sprinkle top with extra graham crackers if desired.