Growing up, my mom seemed to have recipes reserved for each season. Winter brought Russian tea and meatloaf. (Her meatloaf recipe is 2nd to none, and the first pot of Russian tea always meant that Christmas was on its way.) Spring was full of fresh vegetable dishes, and summer always meant sloppy joes (the best I’ve ever had), macaroni salad (also the best I’ve ever had), and cheesecake. I’ll be sharing some of my mom’s other summer delights with you over the next few weeks, but when planning this food-centered series of posts, I knew I had to start with her cheesecake recipe, my very favorite.
I’m told this recipe came from the back of a can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk many years ago, but I’ve never seen anyone else make it or ever tasted a cheesecake quite like it. Despite its common origin, this recipe is one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had. I’ve never been fond of New York style baked cheesecake – too heavy and rich for my taste – so the light, creamy, and slightly tart flavor of this no-bake recipe is right up my alley. Even better, it takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish. I’ve made this recipe more times than I can count, enough times that my friends frequently request it as my contribution to our game nights.
Each time I make this recipe, it brings back many fond memories of wonderful cheesecakes eaten around my family’s dining room table. Once, when visiting me at college, Mom even brought a cheesecake for me to share with my friends and roommate. Not gonna lie: my friends and roommate didn’t get a bite, and at least one piece of that pie was eaten for breakfast the next morning.
- 2 8-oz. packages of cream cheese
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 pre-prepared graham cracker crust
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup sugar
I know it’s strange, but I hate making from-scratch graham cracker crusts. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty and stained with clay, but I just can’t stand having butter and crumbs all over my fingers. So, if you share my dislike for oily and crumby fingers, buy a pre-prepared crust. If not, here’s what you do:
- Melt butter.
- Stir in crumbs and sugar.
- Press mixture into pan and chill.
- Combine milk and room-temperature cream cheese in a medium-to-large mixing bowl. (If you’re fresh from the store, like I was this morning, simply microwave the cheese for 20-30 seconds to bring it to room temp.)
- Beat mixture with a hand mixer until almost all the lumps are gone.
- Stir lemon juice and vanilla extract into cheese and milk mixture, and continue beating with a hand mixer until liquids are thoroughly combined. (If you don’t stir the juice and vanilla into the mixture first, the liquid will go flying when you turn on the mixer. Trust me: cleaning lemon juice and vanilla off your walls and ceiling isn’t fun.)
- Pour mixture into crust.
- Chill for 2 hours prior to serving.
I made these cheesecakes for a Sunday School luncheon coming up this Sunday. Our class is quite large, which is why there are three.
I like the cheesecake by itself, just as it is, but Arturo prefers fresh strawberries on top, and one of my friends swears by the addition of chocolate sauce. Regardless, it’s guaranteed to be enjoyed by all.
I couldn’t eat any of the cheesecake, since I have to serve it on Sunday, but I couldn’t resist licking the spatula.