Herter’s Belgian Cheesecake Recipe

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Photo: iStockphoto.com/Lauri Patterson
Add blueberry pie filling and you have a delicious and light Belgian cheesecake.

Helen Hanks, of Dighton, Kansas, requests a Belgian Cheesecake recipe from an old Herter’s wild game cookbook. “It was a wonderful concoction of fresh lemon juice, whipped cream and cream cheese, among other ingredients,” she writes.

A number of our readers knew exactly the recipe Helen refers to, and Mike Kruer, Scottville, Michigan, wrote, “While reading my copy of your fine magazine, I noted a request from Helen Hanks of Dighton, Kansas. She referred to one my favorite entertainment and cooking sources, namely, George Leonard Herter’s Bull Cook, Recipes and Practices. (The full title is Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter.) If you’re not familiar with it, you should find one and read it. George was quite the philosopher and a darn good cook to boot. His little book is filled with witticisms, recipes and sage advice. I have excerpted the entire article for your perusal and edification. It reads as follows:”

GRIT Recipe Box: January/February 2012

Belgian Cheesecake

Not many people like cheesecake, as the only cheesecake they have ever seen is the so-called Lindy style or New York style of cheesecake. This type of cheesecake is a heavy, soggy cake, hard to digest, that has nothing to recommend it and is nothing like a true cheesecake at all. Real cheesecake comes from the Holland-Belgium border area. It is a rare treat and once you have eaten it, you simply must have it every so often. It is light, not at all heavy and soggy, and served as a dessert has a good digestive effect on your stomach.

It is not hard to make.

Take one cup of cold water, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 packages of unflavored gelatin. Put in a double boiler. (A double boiler is simply a pan that fits down into a pan of water. Prevents the heat getting directly on the top pan.) Stir until the gelatin dissolves. Then take 1/2 cup of cold water and put 4 egg yolks in the water and mix well with your mixer or egg beater. Then add this to the hot mixture in the double boiler and stir in until it blends together well and thickens. Takes about 8 minutes. Now remove the double boiler from the fire.

Take four 3-ounce packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese and 2 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix until creamy in your mixer or with an egg beater. Then with a large spoon, blend in to the hot mixture well. Place in a refrigerator and cool until it thickens but is not completely set. This usually is about 45 minutes. Now take and crush enough graham crackers to fill a cup and mix with 1/4 cup of sugar and 4 tablespoons of soft butter. Take a cake pan and with soft butter grease it lightly on the bottom and sides. Take half the graham cracker mixture and line the bottom of the pan and sides if you desire. The butter makes it easy to line the pan with the graham cracker mixture.

Now take half a pint of whipping cream and whip it. With a large spoon fold the whipped cream into the cake mixture. Take 4 egg whites and whip them until stiff, and with a large spoon fold them into the cake mixture also.

Now pour the cake mixture into the cake pan. Take the other half of the graham cracker mix and cover the top of the cake as thickly as possible. Put the cake in your refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours and it is ready to serve. One cake will serve 12 to 15 people.

Here’s another note from Mike:

“I hope Ms. Hanks enjoys her cheesecake and Mr. Herter’s comments. This little item is typical of his nature as almost every recipe in the booklet contains a bit of advice in addition to the bare bones items needed for the dish. Just in case you are not familiar with Herter’s, 50 years ago it was the go-to place for hunting and fishing tackle and materials to make your own almost anything having to do with outdoor activities. As time passed and he aged, his sons took over the business and apparently over-expanded and fell on hard times.”

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