I came up with this creamy, fruity and incredibly easy-to-make cheesecake for my friend Cheryl's birthday celebration.
I saw a recipe from pastry chef Christina Tosi for an icebox cake made with Ritz crackers, Cool Whip and grape jelly. I didn't make that recipe, but I did come up with one of my own. I call it my Ritzy 2 by 2 Cheesecake.
Ritzy, comes from the buttery Ritz cracker crust, while the 2 by 2 comes from the ingredient list. It's super-simple to remember because it is all in twos.
You will need:
2 sleeves of Ritz Crackers
2 8-ounce packages of softened cream cheese
2 8-ounce tubs of Cool Whip, thawed.
2 12 -ounce jars of fruit preserves. (any fruit you like, I used cherry here. Please make sure to use preserves here, we want the pieces of fruit.)
2 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
Start by blitzing the crackers and sugar together in the food processor. Alternately, you could put them in a plastic bag and bash them into crumbs.
Make sure there are no chunks of cracker left. You want crumbs.
Add the melted butter and press into a 10 inch spring form pan. You could also choose a 13 by 9 pan. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven until it turns golden brown.
Put your preserves in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave the preserves 30 seconds at a time until the preserves melt, but don't get them too hot. Stir them every 30 seconds. You'll then want to let them cool to room temperature.
Add the softened cream cheese and vanilla to a mixing bowl.
Beat until fluffy.
Stir in the softened preserves.
Mix until well-combined.
Slowly mix in the Cool Whip.
Mix carefully with a spatula until there are no white streaks. Then spread the mixture into the spring form pan.
Cover with plastic and put either in the refrigerator or the freezer to set. I like to freeze this if I'm taking it somewhere in the summer or to a pot luck where it might sit out for awhile. Take it out when you leave and it will be nicely thawed to creamy perfection when it's time to eat. In the fridge, let it set for at least four hours.
The pectin in the preserves helps the cheesecake set up nicely. This cheesecake is cool, refreshing and fruity. But the only sugar comes from the preserves, so it's not too sweet. The buttery, salty contrast of the Ritz crust is irresistible.