So here's the thing: this is a cheesecake, but it is no ordinary cheese cake. I want you to imagine a heavy, dense New York style cheesecake, the kind that sits like paste on your tongue. Now, I want you to forget everything you know about that cheesecake. Instead imagine a cheesecake unlike anything you've ever had---imagine a thick, buttery graham cracker crust topped with the fluffiest, lightest cheesecake ever. Imagine eating sweet, rich clouds of cheesecake---lemony, sun-drenched clouds. Now you are beginning to understand Milnot cheesecake.
So, what exactly is Milnot? Good question. I realized, as I was making this cake for the first time on my own, that I had absolutely no idea what Milnot was. As a child, all I knew is that it was very special and it tasted delicious in this cake. And that's really all you need to know. (For those of you who are curious, I did a little research. Milnot is evaporated milk with the animal fat removed and replaced with vegetable oil. Originally this shelf-stable "filled milk" was useful--and inexpensive to produce--before there refrigeration became widely available.) The really interesting thing about Milnot, though, is that it whips up like whipping cream when you beat it with an electric mixer.
Whipped Milnot is the key ingredient in this fluffy-soft cake. The only problem is that Milnot is hard to find. (That is why this cake is so special!) The Milnot Company, which produces this canned miracle milk, is based in Ohio and is now owned by Smuckers. For some reason, Milnot is not widely available on the West Coast. When I was growing up, my mom resorted to having relatives from Chicago and Ohio import as many cans of Milnot as they were willing to carry.
I randomly found cans--two for a dollar!--at a Grocery Outlet near my house, so I snapped them up to make this cake. If you come across some Milnot, I suggest you do the same. (You can also order it online!) Your idea of cheesecake will change forever.
No Bake Milnot Lemon Cheesecake
- 1 small package of lemon Jell-o
- 1 cup boiling water
- 16 oz. of cream cheese (2 packages)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 12 oz. can Milnot, chilled
- 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
- Dissolve Jell-o in boiling water and chill in the refrigerator until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cream the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Melt butter and stir into graham cracker crumbs, mixing until completely combined. Press crumbs into an 13x9 inch baking pan. Set aside.
- Beat the chilled Jell-o into the cream cheese mixture until completely combined and smooth.
- In a large bowl, whip the chilled Milnot until it forms soft peaks. Fold the whipped Milnot into the cream cheese mixture.
- Pour Milnot filling evenly onto the graham cracker crust. Refrigerate for 8 hours.