When I was a kid, this was the season for cherry no-bake cheesecake pie. My Mom would make it occasionally for Valentine’s Day or my parents’ anniversary (which is in January) or even Washington’s birthday. I still associate this sweet creamy dessert with the early months of the year.
We always called it no-bake cheesecake, but my research of vintage ads revealed that this decadent dessert has many names: Cherry O Cream Cheese Pie, Cherry Breeze, or Cheery Cherry Cheese Pie. Try saying that ten times fast. In the 1970s, the recipe often appeared in magazine ads for Borden’s cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. Cherry Breeze was a slightly different variation with cornflakes used for the crust.
Since it’s citrus season, and I felt like making a dessert with a little more zip, I transformed the classic recipe into a parfait, with layers of buttery graham crackers, cheesecake, blood oranges, grapefruit, and a drizzle of blood orange lime simple syrup. Staying true to the original recipe, I still used sweetened condensed milk. It’s super decadent and extremely sweet, but the fruit helps to balance out that sweetness. This is definitely a once-a-year kind of dessert for sharing. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.
1 package graham crackers (usually nine crackers)
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice (about two lemons)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 blood oranges
3 grapefruit (the pink ones are my favorite)
Blood Orange Syrup for drizzling
The Graham Cracker Crumble
- Smash the graham crackers into crumbs using the bag and mallet trick or in a food processor.
- Mix in the sugar
- Add the butter and stir to combine. It will just be barely moistened.
- Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes, stirring once.
- Let the cream cheese come to room temperature. Then, beat with a mixture until it is light and fluffy.
- Add the sweetened condensed milk and beat together.
- Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla.
- Carefully segment the grapefruit and oranges, removing the pith.
- Create layers of graham crackers, cheesecake, and citrus.
- Drizzle the citrus with blood orange syrup if desired.
- Repeat several times until you fill your vessel or sensibly decide to stop.
Share it with the one you love or make in more sensible-sized shooters for a crowd.