This recipe is adapted from a long-time family favourite. Whether we were gathering for Christmas dinner, Easter lunch or just a casual dinner party, my Oma would be lovingly coerced to bring Cherry Delight. Failure to bring said dessert would result in chiding and lots of disapproving head shakes. I wouldn't go as far to say that Oma would be denied turkey, but maybe not the choice slices.
For as long as I can remember Oma would make it in her tried and trusted vintage baking pan. The kind made of tarnished waffle-textured tin. We'd all wait patiently as the tea and coffee was poured and the heirloom spoons were distributed and fought over. We'd sit there salivating as the pieces were carefully sliced and passed around. We weren't allowed to eat until everyone had their fair share, until piece after piece was passed down the table. My aunt always scraped off the cherry topping from her slice and handed it over to the closest wide-eyed cherry lover. My uncle eats his layer by layer. Oma always had a sliver and I would usually have two.
Graham cracker crust, simple cream cheese filling, topped off with cherry pie filling. Easy, fast, basic. To anyone else it's just another no-bake cheesecake, nothing special. To us it's an institution, a tradition, a phenomenon.
Many of the recipes I share with you are adaptations of family recipes. Opa's Chocolate Chip Cookies. Grandma's Grasshopper Pie. Oma's Lemon Loaf. Mom's Angel Icebox. I've even explored recipes my distant Dutch and Indonesian relatives would have enjoyed like Kue Lapis Legit and Speculaas Cookies.
Food is an integral part of our family history. Food is what brings a family together, be it at the end of a busy day or after years of distance. That's why it pleases me to tell you I have a lovely book to give away on this very subject!
From the Family Kitchen by Gena Philibert-Ortega is a beautiful exploration of how food defines us and shapes us. It talks about how recipes handed down generation to generation have become treasured traditions and even guarded family secrets. These recipes, whether hand-scrawled on stained index cards or dictated and translated countless times, have a story to tell us over the decades and offer special insight on our genealogy. This book even includes several recipes from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which demonstrate how much food changes with time, culture and circumstance. There's also a recipe journal included for you to document your own family's recipes and what special memories they're attached to.
The reason there are no photos of a slice is because lunch guests usually frown upon dessert that's been already hacked up. When I learned my aunt and cousin were coming for a timely visit, I knew it was a perfect chance to make my version of this family favourite. And, wouldn't you know it, even with my homemade Cherry Sauce, she still scraped the topping off and gave it to me!