Monday, July 1, 2013

Jell-o Cream Cheese Pie AKA Cream Cheese Jell-o

It's hot outside. Not just uncomfortable, make you sweat kind of hot. It's a fry an egg on the sidewalk, burn yourself on your leather seats, stay inside and walk around in your skivvies kind of hot. I took my son to the movies for his birthday the other day and it was 111 outside. And that was when it was starting to cool down! Needless to say, with no cool down in sight, I'm avoiding turning on my oven as much as possible. But I was in need of a dessert for book club that would be tasty and impressive - but also easy and cold. I decided on this Cream Cheese Jell-o.
   I have fond memories of my dad making a version of this while I was growing up. It was always my favorite jell-o dessert, and something I find myself craving throughout the year. It does take a little forethought (as it needs to set up in the fridge for at least 4 hours), but it's super simple to whip up. And with the addition of the blueberry topping I made to go on top, it was definitely company worthy. :)

FYI: If you're not making this for a crowd it can easily be halved to make only 1 pie (or 4 dessert cups). I was making this for both book club and my family, so I did 4 dessert cups and 1 whole pie. (If you prefer, it can make 2 pies instead.)
These are the main characters: 1 large package of jell-o and 16 oz of cream cheese (or Neufchatel).

The jell-o gets dissolved into 1 3/4 cups of boiling water. (If you are halving the recipe and using a small package of jell-o, you'll want to use 3/4 cup of boiling water.)

Stir it for at least 2 minutes . . .

. . . until the liquid is clear. Set this aside (or park it in the fridge) to get a little set.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the 16 oz of cream cheese and 1 cup of powdered sugar.

Whisk it all together until smooth.

Then slowly whisk in 1 cup of cream (or milk).

Again, make sure that everything is thoroughly combined, with no lumps.

Next comes the jell-o. My jell-o wasn't set very much, so I just stirred it in a little at a time (so as to not splash it all over the kitchen!).

When everything is mixed well (no lumps),

you can pour the mixture into dessert cups (I ladled half of the mixture into individual servings). These smaller servings will set in 3 hours and will stay firmer than the pie will.

I put the rest of the mixture into a graham cracker pie crust. (The pie needs AT LEAST 4 hours to set up. Overnight is best.) The texture of the pie is a little softer and creamier than those in the dessert cups.

What puts this dessert over the top is the blueberry topping. I mixed together 1/2 cup of homemade, low sugar blueberry preserves (store bought would do- you could also use fresh berries but you would need to boil the mixture longer to break down the berries), 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar in a small pan.

I boiled the mixture for about 5 minutes (until the mixture thickened slightly, but still poured off the spoon easily.

I cooled the blueberry sauce a little (until just warm) and then strained it over 1/2 pint of fresh blueberries.

I tossed the berries in the sauce until they were all glistening.

Once the dessert cups were set (firm) I topped each one with some of the blueberry topping.

I whipped up some sweetened whipped cream, and put a dolup on top. For the pie, I piped the whipped cream around the outside and put the remaining blueberry topping in the middle. I had a little sauce left in the bowl, so I used that to decorate the whipped cream a little.

That's it! Just keep them in the refrigerator until ready to serve. (I actually kept the pie in the freezer, because I didn't have room in the fridge, and it served up beautifully.)
A nice, refreshing, summer-time dessert.

Here's the recipe:
adapted from Jell-o Cream Cheese Pie

Jell-o Cream Cheese Pie (AKA Cream Cheese Jell-o)

1 (6 oz) package of jell-o (I used blackberry fusion)
1 3/4 cups boiling water
16 oz cream cheese (or nuefchatele)
1 cup cream (or milk)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 baked and cooled pie crusts (pastry, graham cracker or cookie crusts are all fine)
*I made 1 pie and 4 individual dessert cups (with no crust)
*Sweetened whipped cream (optional)

Disolve jell-o into boiling water, and chill until slightly thick. Blend cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in cream thoroughly. Add the jell-o and mix untlil smooth. Pour into dessert cups, or into pie shells. Chill for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) until firm. Top with whipped cream and blueberry topping.

Blueberry Topping

1/2 pint of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup of blueberry preserves
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup powdered sugar (to taste)
1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)

Combine the preserves, water, powdered sugar and lemon zest in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat. Boil for 3-5 minutes (just until it starts to thicken). Turn off the heat and strain the preserve mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the fresh blueberries to the blueberry sauce. Stir and chill. Use to top your Jello Cream Cheese Pies, or individual Cream Cheese Jell-o dessert cups.

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