September 27, 2010

Milnot Cheesecake: The Special Family Recipe


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
  1. Dissolve Jell-o in boiling water and chill in the refrigerator until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cream the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter and stir into graham cracker crumbs, mixing until completely combined. Press crumbs into an 13x9 inch baking pan. Set aside.
  4. Beat the chilled Jell-o into the cream cheese mixture until completely combined and smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, whip the chilled Milnot until it forms soft peaks. Fold the whipped Milnot into the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Pour Milnot filling evenly onto the graham cracker crust. Refrigerate for 8 hours.
*Note- Serve this cake cold. Top with more graham cracker crumbs and fresh fruit.

30 comments:

  1. This is the recipe my husband's grandmother used for ages to make this wonderful treat. Everytime we all got together on the farm (yes, in the Midwest) for a visit or reunion or holiday, Grandma's Cheesecake was what everyone was looking forward to eating, and it never lasted long! It was the first to go, and for years (before the Internet) I was entrusted with Grandma's recipe for her wonderful dessert, which was quite an honor then for a daughter-in-law. I still have the handwritten, slightly tattered original recipe she dictated to me as I wrote it down in her kitchen on the farm one hot summer day. Now that Grandma is no longer with us, we can relive some of her kitchen magic by making this great dessert!

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  2. God Bless America So happy to find this recipe. Carnation evaporated milk is my substitute,

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  3. Carnation will not work... it does not whip

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    1. Chilled It will whip just fine as a substitute

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    2. Yes, I have used Pet and Carnation evaporated milk....make sure it's chilled overnight in fridge....it works just fine...but not at room temp.....don't have milnot in our area.

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    3. I have used both Carnation and Pet Evaporated Milk and they work fine but not at room temp....be sure to chill in fridge overnite...milnot is not available in our area.

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  4. One of my first cooking moments. Mom entrusted me to make the cheesecake using the recipe straight from the back of the can. Making it again for fathers day in memory of my daddy & my mama.

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  5. This is a Milnot original recipe, and yes it will only work with Milnot ,not the P word or C word. It so rich it whips! And be sure not to use a plastic bowl or utensils, they hold grease in them and keep it from whipping. It makes the best scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes! I was fed Milnot in place of baby formula when I was a baby back in the early 1950s.

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  6. My mother made this cake for years, but her's had pineapple in it. So yummy, and my favorite!

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  7. My mother in-law recently passed away and we inherited her recipe box full of two generations of recipes. We were excited to find this recipe, but unfortunately, it was common for her to write the ingredients down, but not the instructions. So to find this recipe on-line was awesome because the ingredients were exactly the same. We were able to fill in the gaps we needed to make an incredibly delicious cheesecake. We are baking memories in Illinois!

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  8. My grandma passed away on April 13th this year. She always would make this special treat for us when she came to visit or on special occasions. Thank you so much for posting this. You gave me back a special part of her today.

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  9. I was just wondering is the lemon jello used just to flavor or do you actually need the gelatin that's in the jello for the cheese cake?

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  10. The jello is necessary to help the cheesecake set.

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  11. My mother used cherry jello and didnt use cream cheese in it. I could eat the whole thing. So yummy!

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  12. I had a recipe for years although only made once or twice.
    recently I wanted to make this as my recipe called for strawberries and the recipe made 3pies.
    thank you I believe this will replace the one I lost...

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  13. I grew up in a small town in Illinois (north of O'Hare) and have been living in Colorado the last 37 years. I am dying to make a cheesecake using Mascarpone Cream Cheese and Milnot. Looking on-line wow has it been become expensive, but worth it. Still have the Milnot recipe books from my childhood. Happy Holidays

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    1. I'd love to know how it is with mascarpone! That sounds amazing.

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  14. I have been looking and asking eveyone I know about the Milnot Cheesecake recipe I lost years ago.I am so excited to find it again. The people I ask did not know what Milnot was. Could not believe they didn't know what it was. I will now intoduce them to Milnot Cheesecake.

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  15. Can you use a flavor besides lemon jello?

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    1. Yes! I have only ever tried lemon flavor, but you can use whatever flavor you like. Another reader recommends using cherry jello.

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  16. I made this recipe and it actually filled 2 graham cracker pie crusts.

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  17. Very interesting! I'm looking for a recipe for a chocolate cake with cracker crust made in a large springform pam using Milnot and possibly unflavored gelatin. My aunt always made in and got her Milnot when visiting cousins in Illinois. Can anyone help me?

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  18. As a child in the 1960's and oleo-margarine could not be legally sold in Wisconsin (I'm not kidding - this is the dairy state) Milnot could not be sold in WI. We lived on a farm, but my mother would have my uncle bring up a case from Chicago so my mother could make this cheesecake. A few of her select friends would be given cans of Milnot too. Basically my mother was running a Milnot smuggling operation in central Wisconsin. This recipe is delicious. It's nice to just be able go to a store and buy now in Wisconsin.

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  19. Ok, so my husband asked for me to make his mom's miracle cheesecake. It had Milnot in it. They don't sell it in Ohio so the last time we went back to IL, we bought a bunch of cans. But her recipe is different: she actually cubes up 2 or 3 different colors/flavors of jello and folds those into it as well. I made it and he loved it!

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  20. FOR THOSE THAT ADD CRUSHED PINEAPPLE TO THIS RECIPE:
    My mom used to make this recipe for us when we were kids and we loved it, but she always added crushed pineapple. Can anyone tell me the recipe variation to add pineapple.....How big of a can of crushed pineapple, do you drain it or add the the pineapple juice, and at what point do you add the pineapple in to the recipe? THANKS! :)

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    1. use a small can of crushed pineapple in juice - well drained.

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  21. ooo yea my husband grandmother use to make this as well. Yummy Today is mt turn 7/26/214 witch is my grandmothers Birthday . wish me luck,!!!!!!!

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  22. My grandmother who is very dear to me used to make this cake, she always use orange flavored jello. recently my aunt found the recipe and gave it to me I tried it but unfortunately I'm living in Michigan and Milnot is not available, its definitely not the same without it,.I will be stocking up next time I go to Illinois!!

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  23. For anyone interested in the fascinating history behind Milnot do a Google search" Josh Blackman and Milnot"

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  24. Christine StoufferOctober 21, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    This is also known as the Woolworth Cheesecake because it was sold at Woolworth lunch counters.

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