I created this recipe when asked to be a featured chef on the 4th of July at the Chicago Botanic Garden's "Garden Chef Series" several years ago. Since Feast of Eden was known for cheesecake, that was their request. It takes hours to prepare a baked cheesecake, so this was my solution. It is delicious and so appropriate for Independence Day with its red, white, and blue color.
1 ½ cups vanilla wafer crumbs
2 T. sugar
3 T. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Spray a 9-inch cheesecake or spring form pan with non-stick spray. Combine crust ingredients and press firmly and evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, then place in the freezer and freeze.
1 packet (¼ oz.) powdered, unflavored gelatin
¼ cup milk
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1 cup fresh strawberries, crushed
1 cup fresh black berries, crushed
1 cup fresh raspberries, crushed
Additional berries for garnish
Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a microwave safe bowl and allow to soften for one minute. Microwave in 10 second increments, stirring each time, until gelatin is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly. In a mixer bowl combine cream cheese and sugar and beat at medium speed until light and thoroughly combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly beat in gelatin. Mix in lemon juice and vanilla. Remove from mixer and fold in whipped cream by hand until no streaks remain. Gently fold in berries. Pour over frozen crust and smooth top. Cover and chill until very cold and firm, about 6 hours. ( like this cheesecake frozen, too!) Remove a hot knife around the edge to loosen pan.
Garnish with Whipped Cream That Won't Fall Flat and additional fresh berries just before serving.