No Bake Pineapple Cheesecake
This recipe was handed down to me from an old cousin of my mother's. She made this confection for all sorts of special occasions and it has always been a crowd pleaser. I've served it myself for a few dinner parties to "ooohs and ahs" from my guests.
This is not a heavy New York style cheesecake and it's also a nice diversion from my Italian Ricotta cake. This is a refrigerator cake with no baking involved so there is no worry of turning out a cake with a split top. It is light and soft and full of pineapple which gives it a certain sweetness without being sickeningly sweet.
I like to garnish my dessert plates with a few stripes of raspberry puree from a squeeze bottle just to add a little color because the cake is pale.
For the crust:
1.25 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
hot water as needed
For the filling:
1/2 pint heavy cream
milk as needed
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 one pound can crushed pineapple
1 regular box cook and serve vanilla pudding
Prepare the crust in a 10" spring form pan and allow to chill for at least one hour.
Combine crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl to combine. Stir in melted butter until thoroughly blended. Test the mixture between 2 fingers to see if it holds shape. If not then add a couple drops of hot water. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan with a spoon or juice glass. Chill for at least 1 hour before filling.
Strain the pineapple over a bowl and reserve the liquid. Add enough milk to the pineapple liquid to make 2 cups. Transfer the milk/pineapple liquid to a small pan and sprinkle with gelatin powder. Stir in pudding mix and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and begins to boil.
Remove pudding mixture from heat. Add cream cheese and beat with hand mixer until smooth. Stir in drained pineapple and mix well by hand. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
In a separate bowl beat egg whites until stiff while gradually adding 1/4 cup sugar.
In yet another bowl whip the cream with 1/4 cup sugar until soft peaks form.
Fold the egg whites into the cooled pudding mixture and then incorporate the whipped cream. Do not over mix!
Pour the mixture into the prepared, crumb lined pan. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Unmold* before serving and sprinkle with a tablespoon of graham cracker crumbs.
*to unmold: run a table knife around the edge of cake. Place the cake on a bowl and release the spring latch. Loosen the outer ring from the cake and slide it down, freeing the cake. Do not remove the cake from the bottom pan circle! Move the cake, with the bottom intact, to a serving plate.