If you have a crowd to cook for on Thanksgiving, an easy buffet dessert can help keep your time in the kitchen to a manageable couple of hours. These cheesecake bars can be made a day in advance, and they are small enough to make guests feel that they are indulging, but not overdoing it.
This was my Auntie Annie’s recipe, which she called Cheese Freeze. (I thought it should be renamed, since there’s nothing in it that‘s frozen.) She was a good-hearted farmwife who was constantly in motion and seemed quite happy about it. I don’t think she ever owned a clothes dryer, and her washer was one of those old-fashioned conventional things with rubber rollers for squeezing water out of the clothes. I liked to play tag around the sheets hanging on her line, and she was too kind to scold me about it. She always had some freshly-baked snack in her kitchen, and my brother and I would fly in, grab a little pastry, and hurtle back outside, slamming the screen door on the way out.
Auntie Annie kept her own big garden, and worked on my grandmother’s farm, canning and pickling whatever there was to can and pickle, as well as doing great mounds of ironing while watching her favorite soap operas. Her one indulgence was her tulip garden; she used to buy a single exotic bulb at a time and add it lovingly to her collection. It was an education in Holland’s finest to see her spring tulips, but now I realize it was also a useful lesson in how one’s life could be full and productive and satisfying with the simplest of things. As the Dalai Lama says, “It’s better to want what you have, than to have what you want.”
She was rightfully proud of this recipe, and I hope you’ll enjoy it also.
Prep time: 20 minutes plus 3 hours to refrigerate
- 20 graham crackers
- ¼ pound butter
- 16 ounces dry cottage cheese, or farmer’s cheese
- 2 packages unflavored gelatin
- ½ cup cold water
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 beaten egg yolks, 2 egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ½ pint whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Melt butter. Crush 20 graham crackers, rolling fine and combine with butter. Spread crust in bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and press down firmly, so that mixture covers bottom of pan.For cheesecake:
- Take dry cottage cheese and put through a ricer, or mash well with a fork. Set aside.
- Sprinkle unflavored gelatin into cold water and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan cook milk, sugar, egg yolks and salt until it boils and forms a glaze. Add gelatin mixture and mix until gelatin dissolves. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
- Beat whipping cream until peaks form. Seat aside. Beat two eggs whites until stiff. Fold egg whites and vanilla into whipped cream. Fold in gelatin mixture and cottage cheese until well combined.
- Pour over graham cracker crust and smooth. Refrigerate 3 hours. Cut into bars and serve.