There are several foods from my childhood that bring back fond memories. For example, I remember my dad standing in the kitchen shaking a quart jar with milk in it until he turned it into butter. It takes a lot of determination to turn milk into butter—by hand. We never refrigerated the butter because it made it too hard to spread on Mom’s homemade bread. For some reason our homemade butter was more flavorful than store bought.
Memories of homemade butter has a special place in my heart, but the memory I’m going to talk about today is Mom’s lemon torte.
Ah, the lemon torte—we always called it cheesecake. I loved Mom’s cheesecake—it was light and fluffy with a fresh lemony taste. However, whenever I went to a restaurant hoping for a bite of fluffy goodness, I was always served some weird, foreign, substitute. Store-bought cheesecake was dense and not at all lemony and the graham cracker crust was usually mushy. Of course I didn’t know that true cheesecake is dense.
So, I’ll not confess how old I was when I learned the truth about Mom’s cheesecake—that it’s lemon torte, but I will confess that I continued the tradition of calling it cheesecake after I married and had kids of my own. Haha. I’ll not confess how old they were when they learned the truth about Mom’s cheesecake either.
But my kids have forgiven me the deception, and for their birthdays most of them request that I make lemon torte. And, now that they don’t live at home, they also request it for family get-togethers. Lemon torte isn’t hard to make, but it does dirty a lot of bowls in the process.
Fluffy Lemon Torte
1 ½ C graham cracker crumbs
¼ C melted margarine
2 TBSP sugar
Combine crumbs, butter and sugar; press into the bottom of an 9”x13” glass baking dish. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes; cool. (I put mine on the table under the ceiling fan and lift it from the table with pot holders.) Filling:
1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
1 (3-oz) pkg lemon gelatin
1 C boiling water
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese
½ C sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Place can of opened evaporated milk in the freezer until frozen crystals appear—milk is partly frozen. Meanwhile, dissolve gelatin in a small bowl using the 1 C boiling water, then chill in the refrigerator until gelatin is syrupy. In a medium to large mixing bowl, beat milk until stiff peaks form. Add lemon juice to gelatin and mix in with beater set on low. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add gelatin to cream cheese mixture and mix well. Using a large spoon or a spatula, fold in the milk. Pour over crust. Sprinkle reserved crust mixture over the top and chill for at least 3 hours. (Picture above is the chilled milk beaten to stiff peaks. If it's warm in the house, freeze the beaters and metal mixing bowl while chilling the milk. Then put ice in the sink and fill with about an inch of cold water. Pour milk into chilled bowl and place bowl in the sink.) (Above is a picture of the gelatin after I mixed the lemon juice in--notice I didn't clean the beaters first. Below is a picture of the finished torte.) This dessert can also be made with lime gelatin and lime juice--use approximately 1/4 cup of lime juice for a delicious lime treat.