This is not really a cheesecake, but rather a cake dressed up in a cheesecake costume. It added some decadence to my husband's 30th birthday celebration (actually, the cake pretty much WAS the celebration, and a good one at that). Happy birthday, babe.
8 oz "cream cheese" (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)
1/3 c margarine, room temperature
4 1/3 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
3/4 t lemon zest
2 1/4 c flour
1 T + 1 t cornstarch
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 1/4 c sugar
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c margarine
1 T vanilla
1 T lemon juice
1 1/2 c almond milk
1 1/2 21-oz. cans cherry pie filling (or an equivalent amount of homemade filling would be even better)
8 graham cracker sheets, crushed
For the icing:
- Beat together cream cheese, margarine, lemon zest, and vanilla until well combined.
- Add powdered sugar in batches and beat at high speed until very smooth.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together sugar, cream cheese, margarine, vanilla, and lemon juice until very smooth, then add the almond milk and beat until just combined.
- Add the flour mixture to the cream cheese mixture in batches and beat until incorporated.
- Divide batter between 2 well-greased 9-inch round cake pans, and bake for about 40 minutes or until the edges of the cake start to pull away from the pans.
- Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pans, then continue to cool on a baking rack. Don't assemble until the cake is completely cool.
- Place the bottom cake layer on a plate or serving tray. Spread a thin layer of icing on top to keep the cherry filling from bleeding into the cake, then pipe some icing around the perimeter of this area to keep the cherries from oozing out the sides. Add about 3/4 can of pie filling within the icing perimeter. Top with 2nd layer of cake.
- Ice the edges of the cake.
- Ice the top of the cake, again piping an icing perimeter to hold in the cherries. Spread on the remaining 3/4 can of cherries.
- Press the graham cracker crumbs into the sides of the cake. My method for this was basically to smash them in by the handful, which proved messy but effective.
- Store in the refrigerator unless your kitchen is very cool—the icing will melt in warm temperatures (as I learned trying to ice the cake in a 95 degree kitchen, thus the droopiness evidenced in the photo).