Friday, June 3, 2011

Spumoni Cheesecake: Version 1.0

Two Saturdays ago, my mother and her boyfriend decided to take M and I to dinner. But first she wanted to go for a walk around Gray's Lake in Des Moines. Fine, I thought, it's just a little walk around the lake.

On our way back to the car, my mom remembered this other attraction she would like to see - it's call the high tressle bridge and it's located in a town about 30 minutes northwest of Des Moines. Fine. Let's go. So we drive. We get lost. We go to a Casey's. We find the trail leading to the bridge. And then we walk 2 miles total, so we can see the bridge and get back to the car. We narrowly avoided a thunderstorm, but we did not avoid a big buzzing cicada being trapped in the car with us. Let's just say I spent a good 3 minutes hyperventilating with my cardigan over my head while the rest of the car tried to get it out. I am not into bugs, and my outdoors capacity had already been met for the day.

High Tressle Bridge

By the time we got back to Des Moines, it was nearly 10PM. I don't know if you hang out much in Des Moines, but dang near nothing is open at that hour, and especially when you don't want to go to a bar. My mom remember that an Italian restaurant, Noah's, is open until midnight. So that is where we went.

Noah's has good classic Des Moines Italian food; more spectacularly, they have amazing desserts. Three of the four of us got desserts and shared them. The highlight for me was the spumoni cheesecake, something I'd never heard of or seen before.

I have searched the internet high and low and cannot find a recipe for this. I decided to create my own. it is. It's not perfect, and I'm planning to make it again and not use pudding. I think the pudding gave it a different texture. [EDIT: My mother was a really big fan of this cheesecake. She actually called to tell me how much she liked it. Hmmm.] I'm going to go all out the next opportunity I get and actually grind the pistachios myself and use real chocolate . Post forthcoming! I have no idea when that will be, by the way as I'm in the midst of my summer job and mostly living away from my apartment and baking supplies.

  • 1 C Crushed Chocolate Graham Crackers

  • 6 TBSP Unsalted Butter

  • 1/2 C Sugar

  • 3 8oz Blocks of Cream Cheese (softened)

  • 3 Eggs

  • 3 Packages of Instant Pudding: Chocolate, Pistachio, and Vanilla

  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract

  • 1 1/2 tsp Cherry Flavoring

  • 1/4 C Chopped Maraschino Cherries

  1. Mix the crushed chocolate graham crackers, butter, and sugar and press them into the bottom of an 8 inch spring form pan. Do not try to press the crust up the sides, just make a bottom crust. Bake for 7 minutes at 350.

  2. Mix the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Then add in the vanilla extract and mix until smooth.

  3. Split the cream cheese between three different bowls and try to do so as evenly as possible. Add about 1/3 of a package of pudding to each bowl - chocolate to one, pistachio to another, vanilla to the last one. Add the chopped cherries to the vanilla bowl and then add the cherry flavoring as well.

  4. Layer the cream cheese pudding mixtures on the crust - cherry, then pistachio, then chocolate.

  5. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the the cake is solidified but still jiggly in the middle. If you have the patience or risk tolerance, bake it it a water bath - that will help to keep the cheesecake from cracking.

  6. Cool for at least 8 hours and then serve.


  1. Christy, did you know the high tressle bridge was designed (at least in part) by a Grinnellian? (Matt Johnson '03, if you're wondering.) I really love the design. Hadn't seen pictures it at night before, though; that's pretty great.

  2. No, I did not know that! That's really cool. I'll have to tell my mom. It's a really great place to visit if you're ever back in the area - it's a beautiful view of the river and the bridge itself is amazing.