Happy almost 4th of July! We usually entertain a crowd for this particular holiday, and it is almost always blistering hot outside. Keeping that in mind, I went in search for a do-ahead dessert that was relatively quick, easy, and cold that could also feed a small army. And here you have it. To be fair, this is a translation of a dessert that Neeners used to make when we were kids. We have unofficially named it ‘Blueberry Surprise’ since Neeners was surprised when I mentioned it because she does not recall making it and cannot find her recipe. If memory serves, hers was made when the very first boxed cheesecake kits came out on the market. This is why she cannot find a recipe, although she blames me for stealing it. Situation: normal.
We begin with a graham cracker crust. Get those puppies into your food processor, or put them in a ziplock bag and hit them with a hammer or rolling pin until you have crumbs. Feel free to grab a few for yourself. This will not affect the final outcome of the crust. I am speaking from experience.
Add sugar and melted butter…
Mix it all up until it looks like this:
And into a 13×9 inch baking dish. If you want to be a real smarty pants, line the dish with foil that drapes over the ends. That way, when all is said and done, you can lift the whole business out in one big piece. This makes slicing and serving a cool breeze. Another little trick: An easy way to mash down all the crumbs and get them into the corners is to use a little jelly jar to push things around. It does all the work and you do not have to suffer from crumb hands.
Pop him into the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and he comes out looking like this:
Let him sit on the counter and cool down while you get busy with your blueberries. First off, grab a Dutch oven or other heavy pan. In go the 3 cups of the blueberries, water, sugar/cornstarch mix, and a touch of cinnamon.
The idea here is that you want to create a base for the rest of the berries that is thick enough to stay on top of the cheesecake without running all over the place. This will be thick, but do not panic. I usually grab my trusty old potato masher to crush the berries to make sure the base can hold all of the rest of the fruit you will pile in here in a minute.
It needs to boil for just a minute, then add the rest of the berries. These guys just get heated through because we want them to stay in one piece for the final topping.
On low heat, cook this until really thick – see what I’m talking about below. Now you get to taste it if you haven’t already. Add a pinch of salt if its too sweet. If you are so inclined, throw in a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice. Some people really like that in fruit desserts. This needs to be thick enough to show a little trail when you run a spoon through, but if you feel like its too thick, add water until you are happy with it. I ended up adding almost another cup of water to this batch. Remember, it will get thicker as it cools.
Set this aside to cool to room temperature while you make the cheesecake. If you are wondering, I ate everything left in this pan.
And for the cheesecake: Start by mixing room temperature cream cheese and sugar. When that is creamed together, add the sour cream. If you decide to all all of these at the same time, you will be rewarded with a shower of sour cream goo in your face. I know this.
Eggs get added one at a time, and vanilla and almond extract are added. When this is done, we’re ready for the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Cheesecake is done when a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let it sit out and cool to room temperature, then spoon the blueberry sauce over the top. Check out how thick it is..
Cover well, pop into the refrigerator, and let it chill over night.. That’s it! If you used the foil method, you can just pull the entire cheesecake out of the pan when you’re ready to serve.
All that’s left is to pretty it up. Whipped cream is good..
But since it is the 4th of July, feel free to add a strawberry or even a red cherry to the top. There you go: red, white & blue!
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!
- FOR THE CRUST:
- 2 packages of graham crackers
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cube of butter, melted
- BLUEBERRY TOPPING:
- 7 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 cup water (more may be needed to achieve desired consistency)
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- • Pinch of salt, or more to taste
- CHEESECAKE FILLING:
- 2, 8 ounce packages cream cheese (room temperature)
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
- In large bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch-baking dish that has been lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until set. Cool to room temperature before filling.
- BLUEBERRY SAUCE
- Combine sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon together in a small bowl. In a large Dutch oven, pour 3 cups of the blueberries and water. Add sugar/cornstarch/cinnamon mixture and salt. Cook over medium low heat until mixture becomes thick. Stir in remaining berries and continue to cook until heated through and entire mixture is quite thick. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature or chill until ready to use.
- In a mixer, beat together cream cheese, and sugar. Slowly beat in sour cream and then eggs one at a time, waiting one minute between each addition. Turn mixer to low and add vanilla and almond extract.
- Pour batter into the cooled graham crust.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until filling is set in the middle but still jiggles slightly when moved. Cool at room temperature for about one hour.
- Pour blueberry mixture over the baked and cooled cheesecake.
- Cover well and chill until set.