by Clayton Price
Director of Event Operations
It’s hard to explain how important Jell-O was in my childhood. My mother had an entire section of her pantry dedicated to that relic of the 1950s. Jell-O was a staple at our table, and more than once, after she’d set out a delicious Sunday dinner of homemade rolls, homegrown veggies, mashed potatoes and gravy, and homemade pies, I heard Mom apologize, “I’m so sorry; I didn’t make Jell-O.”
My wife sees it a little differently.
As a member of the Crafts family (as in Culinary Crafts), my wife grew up with a very different culinary childhood and a different attitude about Jell-O. In our first year of marriage, my mom happened to tell Meagan that my absolute favorite dessert was a no-bake peach cheesecake topped with Jell-O. Always excited about a new recipe, Meagan decided to surprise me with it one day when I came home from school.
Well, Meagan is experimental when she bakes, discarding and substituting ingredients when it suits her, which consistently leads to tremendous results that are 1000% better than the originals. However, this is not one of those recipes.
Sometimes, there’s no substitute for Jell-O.
Meagan spent months working on this recipe, making dozens of edits and substitutions. She replaced the Jell-O with a homemade peach gelée, and she substituted fresh vanilla whipped cream for the Cool Whip. She tried using Culinary Crafts' famous cheesecake base instead of this no-baked version. Meagan experimented with fresh peaches, frozen peaches, diced peaches, sliced peaches, pureed peaches, compotes, marmalades, and curds. She tried a myriad of different ingredients, combinations, and setting methods, but nothing seemed to work the same way as the Jell-O original.
After one of these attempts, I finally asked Meagan, “Why not just follow the recipe?” She admitted that she had—several times—but she had to throw them out because she couldn't make the Jell-O set.
I had to laugh. Of all the millions of things my wife, the Queen of the Kitchen, does expertly, making Jell-O is not one of them. And in this recipe, there really is no substitute for these classic ingredients.
We still make this peach cheesecake with Jell-O whenever we visit my parents, but Meagan reminds me every time that once my mother passes away, she’s never making this recipe again. She says I’d better enjoy it while I can.
And I do!
NO-BAKE PEACH CHEESECAKE
Cream Cheese Filling
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 4 tbsp powdered sugar
- 12 oz Cool Whip, defrosted large bowl of popcorn
- 1 ¾ cups water
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 oz peach Jell-O
- 6 cups of peeled & diced fruit of your choice (Frozen fruit works great, but I love using fresh peaches in season. Match the fruit to the flavor of Jell-O.)
- 1Melt butter and stir together with graham crackers. Gently press the crust mixture into the bottom of a 9X13 pan. Place in fridge to chill.
- Combine water, cornstarch, and sugar in a saucepan. Boil until thick, then add peach Jell-O and stir until dissolved. Set Jell-O filling aside until it has cooled, then add peeled & diced fruit.
- In separate bowl, stir cream cheese filling ingredients until fluffy and well blended.
- Spoon the cream cheese mixture onto the crust. Spoon the Jell-O filling over top of the cream mixture.
- Chill until set. ENJOY!