To the best of my knowledge, my grandmother has never been to New York. She is not much of a traveler. She does, however, make a cheesecake that would make you wonder why you would even bother with the trip there.
The ingredients are simple, if not a little odd sounding at first. You will just have to trust me on this one.
The original recipe calls for making a graham cracker crumb crust in the bottom of a 9X13 pan. While that version is lovely, Goose really prefers the chocolate cookie crumb base.
For the purposes of this demonstration, you will need about 2 1/2 cups of crumbs and 1/2 cup of melted butter. I was sharing this with a friend, so I made it into two pie plates instead of one pan. It is absolutely important that the crust be allowed to cool completely before adding the next layers to it. If you are short on time, you can use the pre-made pie crusts.
I actually managed to procure sour cherries this year, so I am using those to make this dish. Little brown sugar, little Mira-Cleer and away you go.
Mira-Cleer is essentially like corn starch, but cooks up leaving the fruit exceptionally shiny and clear. Neither does it leave behind the chalky taste that can sometimes happen with corn starch. The important thing to remember is to either add it into your dish while everything is still cool, or make slurry of it and add it to your dish when things are not yet boiling. Otherwise, you will end up with a giant glue-ball and them thars NOT good eats.
Now, onto the good stuff. One really soft package of cream cheese. Add the sour cream and begin creaming it together. Add the lemon juice and vanilla after a while. The lemon juice will probably fly all over the kitchen if you add it in at the beginning. I should probably say that this is the one place I would be willing to use ‘clear’ vanilla. It’s not entirely vanilla. OK, so it’s not vanilla at all. It is an artificial vanilla extract. The clear one keeps this layer nice and creamy white. Adding regular vanilla extract gives it a slightly ecru colour. If you don’t mind the slightly off colour, stick with the real stuff.
The concoction should turn out something like this. Don’t be afraid to leave the mixer on and walk away for a minute or six. There will still be a few small lumps, but the lemon juice will help smooth those out overnight.
Next, add 2-3 cups of miniature marshmallows. This is where you can play with things a little. Add more or less depending on how big the container is that you need to fill. You will need about half of a regular sized bag of marshmallows, either way.
Smooth it all over your well-cooled crust. If the crust isn’t allowed to cool, the cream cheese mixture will melt all over and under the crust. Still tasty, but it is a devil to clean up.
And then spread it will your lovely cherry mixture. If the cherries aren’t cooled, the cream cheese mixture will erupt up through the cherry layer and look more than a little odd. Again, tasty, but not at all Martha-like.
Any fruit topping will do here. Blueberries are especially nice. You can also use canned fruit filling, in a pinch. I like using my own fruit because I find the canned ones too sweet. This falls into the fancy ‘balanced flavour’ category. Any one of these layers could become over-sweet without too much awful work, but keeping each layer just a little under-sweet tends to let it balance out better.
This dessert is also better if made the night before. This gives the lemon juice time to work it’s magic on the marshmallows. They will actually break down considerably inside the cream cheese and form pockets of airy sweetness, making this dessert not too heavy but satisfying all at once.