Holy cow! Can you say B.U.S.Y.????? I feel like I have been running ragged the past few weeks! And, from what I hear 'around,' it seems to be a trend with lots of folks right now. I haven't been in the kitchen at all for about the past two weeks ... we've eaten take out three times this week ... and I've resorted to my stash of 'emergency' frozen foods for the remaining nights. I'm ready for life to settle down a bit. How 'bout you?
Now, the crazy-busy'ness for me is coming mostly from work. The start up of the schoolyear is kickin' my pa-tooty this year! It's always busy for teachers at the start of the schoolyear, but this year is waaaayyyyyy extra busy. We're implementing a 100% completely new curriculum, our staff of instructional assistants was cut in half due to budget constraints, and I have ... well, shall we say ... the most academically diverse class I've ever had. But I'm persevering, will get things running smoothly without running myself ragged, and will be back in the kitchen soon.
[DISCLAIMER: Contrary to my husband's opinion, the prior statements do not constitute 'complaining.' They are simply statements of fact about the current situation, which absolutely is not complaining He seems to confuse the two ... silly, silly man.]
So, for today's post I'm turning to a dish I've had in my queue for a while but just haven't shared yet. I have quite a few of those. I seem to be able to make stuff and photograph it much more quickly than I can edit all those photos and write posts. That queue of stuff sure comes in handy for crazy-busy times like now!
I'm excited to finally share this Fruit Salad Cheesecake with you!
Mark is actually the one who found this recipe. He was reading a magazine while we were visiting his mom one weekend, and it had a page of recipes in it. Obviously knowing how much I love to cook and try out new recipes, he scanned for anything he thought would be of interest to me ... and landed on this Fruit Salad Cheesecake. Isn't he sweet?
Well, he was certainly right ... this recipe was indeed of interest to me. I mean, Fruit Salad Cheesecake?? I had never heard of such a thing! And, of course, had to give it a try.
Think upscale fruit cocktail wrapped in a creamy, light-and-fluffy cream cheese-and-whipped-topping blanket. And what a different way to present fruit salad! I loved it.
I tried it out in two sizes ... full-size cheesecake made in a 9-inch springform pan, and these individual mini cheesecakes made in muffin tins.
Both worked, so size choice is just a matter of what presentation one wants to make.
So, how do you make this unique fruit salad? er, cheesecake?
Simply make a crushed pineapple, cream cheese, and gelatin mixture with a little simple simmering on the stovetop. Then mix in some halved fresh grapes, mandarin orange slices, coarsely chopped maraschino cherries, and chopped pecans.
Fold in some whipped topping, and pour the mixture into a vanilla wafer crust. Chill ... and you're done! Pretty easy, huh?
For the individual mini fruit salad cheesecakes, I wasn't quite sure what would work best as a method for them ... so, I tried a few different ways:
1. Pouring the fruit salad mixture into muffin cups first, topping with three vanilla wafer cookies as the crust, with the plan of then inverting them when I removed them from the pan.
RESULT: Not so great. The vanilla wafers didn't 'fit' well, and they just looked kind of messy when inverted.
2. Placing a single vanilla wafer in the bottom of foil cupcake liners, and pouring the fruit salad mixture on top.
RESULT: Didn't like the look of the ridges from the foil liner, but it wasn't too bad a method.
3. Placing a single vanilla wafer directly in the bottom of muffin tin cups, without any type of cupcake liner, and pouring the fruit salad mixture on top. My worry with this one was that I wouldn't be able to get the mini cheesecakes out of the pan.
RESULT: This was my favorite method. I liked the look of the smoother sides, and ...
... the 'remnants' left in the pan when removing the cheesecakes was minimal. I simply sprayed the pan very lightly with nonstick cooking spray, and ran a knife around the edge of each mini cheesecake before lifting it out of the pan.
The vanilla wafer cookie doesn't completely fill the bottom of the muffin cup, so the bottom comes out looking like this:
... but I don't think it looks too bad! (Hey, how many people will turn their fruit salad over to check out the bottom anyway?)
I think they look pretty cute served up on a cake stand!
So, whether you make individual minis ...
... or a full-sized cheesecake, this is one decidedly different way to serve fruit salad! er, cheesecake. er, fruit salad cheesecake. er, whatever!
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Fruit Salad Cheesecake
Source: Adapted from Taste of Home, as published in Carolina Country magazine, May, 2012
1 1/2 c. vanilla wafer crumbs (I give vanilla wafer cookies a quick whirl in the food processor)
2 T. butter, melted
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. cold water
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, cubed
1 1/2 c. halved seedless grapes
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained and cut in half
1 (10 oz.) jar maraschino cherries, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
2 c. whipped topping (such as Cool Whip)
For the Crust:
1. In a small bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan coated with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
For the Filling:
2. In a small saucepan, cook crushed pineapple and sugar over medium heat for 5 minutes or until heated through.
3. Place cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin; let stand for 1 minute. Stir gelatin mixture into the warm pineapple mixture.
4. Reduce heat to low and add cubed cream cheese. Cook and stir until cream cheese is melted and the mixture is well blended. Remove from heat and cool completely.
5. Stir the grapes, mandarin oranges, cherries, and pecans into the cooled cream cheese mixture. Fold in the whipped topping. Pour into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
For Minis: Instead of making vanilla wafer crumbs and butter mixture, place a single vanilla wafer cookie in the bottom of muffin tin cups that have been very lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Fill muffin tin cups full with fruit salad mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.