No Bake Cherry Cheesecake- A Tribute to Aunt Barb

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake | Cravings of a Lunatic | My family's favourite cheesecake!

Hi folks. I’d like to first take a moment to thank everyone for being so kind this past week. I decided to take a brief absence from blogging. Been lots going on and I’ve had things on my mind, just needed some time off. I tend to get a bit blue on my Dad’s birthday every year which followed shortly after my Aunt’s funeral. Also managed to get sick yet again. It’s been a wild few weeks here at the Bee household. I thought taking a few days off to just chill and hang with the kids was in order and so glad I did it. I am back now and feeling right as rain again. Nothing like a few days to yourself to make you whole again. So thank you all for your understanding. Lunatic readers sure are a nice bunch. I adore you all to bits.

I wanted to pay homage to my Aunt who passed last week. She was my Dad’s sister. She passed away from cancer on December 26, 2011. I had just been up for a visit a couple hours before she passed. I am glad I was able to get up there that last day. The final couple of visits she was not aware I was there, she was sleeping for one visit and she was non-responsive her last day. I am okay with that. I know I was there and that is enough for me. She had Alzheimer’s as well so even during my previous visits she really was not aware most of the time who I was. I think she just thought I was a nice nurse who pushed her around in her chair and listened to stories. She told me about her kids and her life, sometimes it made sense, sometimes not. I always listened though and asked lots of questions. I think the greatest gift you can give someone during an illness is time. She talked a lot about my hair which always made me laugh and smile. My father did the same thing during his illness. So the parallel was odd but humorous to me. I would hold her hand and try to make things seem more normal. It was hard on her being in palliative care, she wanted to be home. She missed her cats and her house. Yet palliative care was the right choice for her.

For those of you who don’t know I took care of my Dad during his battle with the same cancer my Aunt had. He wanted to die at home. I look back on it and wonder where I found the strength to do it. Or the stamina. I am so thankful I did it but seeing my Aunt sick sure brought back a lot of memories. So it was difficult on so many levels. Yet I know that it was the right thing to do, when family is sick you do everything you can for them. If you have grudges let them go. Everyone deserves peace in their final days.

So this recipe is one my Aunt Barb taught me how to make. My Mom passed away when I was a teenager. She was one of those moms who did it all. When she died none of us knew how to cook. My aunt came in to help us out a bit. This is one of the things she taught me how to make. It is easy and quick which for a 15 year old learning to cook was paramount at the time. This is the first cheesecake I ever made. I have since learned to do baked versions, one I favour I still have not shared with you guys. For now I share the first cheesecake I ever ate and the first cheesecake I ever made. So kudos to Aunt Barb for teaching me to love cheesecake, for teaching me to make cheesecake and for sparking a love of baking that remains to this day.

I am not sure where the recipe came from but my inclination is from Philadelphia Cream Cheese, perhaps in a cookbook or newspaper at some time.


No Bake Cherry Cheesecake
  • 1¼ cup graham crumbs
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 package of cream cheese, softened (for some reason I have double written next to it, so my assumption is when I used to make this often I found it set up better with 2 packages of cream cheese. I used 1 for this go at it.)
  • 2 packages of dream whip, prepared as directed on package
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  1. In a bowl mix your graham crumbs and melted butter. Stir until well blended. Press into a pie plate, spring form pan or mini dessert glasses.
  2. In your mixer combine the dream whip as directed on package, whip until fluffy.
  3. Add in your cream cheese and continue to mix until well blended.
  4. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the pie plate, spring form pan, or mini dessert glasses. Smooth out.
  5. Pour the cherry pie filling over top and smooth out.
  6. You can sprinkle extra graham crumbs over top for visual effect if you like. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.
  7. Stick it in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set up.
Tips and hints: I think I used to double the cream cheese to make it set up better. Otherwise it’s a bit too soft. The bottom of a honey drizzler works great for pressing down graham crumbs in small cups. If you want to be all fancy you could pipe the cream cheese into cups in designs. You could top it with extra crumbs or shaved chocolate. White would be pretty. Don’t eat all the cherry pie filling while making this or you won’t have enough. Cautionary tale!

Now if I can take a moment to send out a huge nod to my cousin Brian who was there every day for my Aunt. His Mom meant the world to him and he showed up, no matter how tough it was. He helped her do all the things she could not do for herself, comforted her when she needed it, made her laugh when she needed that too. So to Brian, I am sorry for your loss but grateful for the open heart you approached this journey with. Your Mom was so happy you were there and so proud of you.

Aunt Barb, Dad, and Aunt Donna- taken in June 1997 in Alberta. All three taken by cancer, they are together now.

This photo was taken when my Aunt Donna was sick with cancer back in ’97. She passed from colon cancer. My Dad passed from lung cancer in 2007. My Aunt Barb from lung cancer in 2011. Cancer affects so many families, ruins many lives. The only advice I can offer is seek medical attention immediately when you feel sick. Don’t wait. Early detection can make all the difference. In Dad’s case it would not have cured him but may have given him more time. So be vigilant folks. Physicals every year, be honest with the doctor, and your families. And if cancer strikes someone you know the best advice I can give and trust me this is from experience, is let all the nonsense go. In the end all that matters is people you love. You won’t be on your deathbed wishing you had worked more, or even done more, you’ll be wishing you had spent more time with people, told them how you feel. Let grudges go, let the one you love die in peace with those who love them. It’s all anyone wants in those final moments.

Toodles and smoochies. xx

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  1. Jenni says

    You're a very strong person. But you knew that. Still, it needed to be said. :) So many of us have to deal w/caring for aging relatives, and it can be so very hard. But, as you say, so worthwhile. You were a great daughter and niece. Take care of yourself, and eat some cheesecake. It's good for the soul.

  2. Dara says

    Awww Kim. You are so sweet and thoughtful. Your eloquence has made me tear up at my desk. I am truly sorry for your loss(es) and this post is a lovely tribute to the woman who taught you how to cook!

  3. Tina says

    My heart goes out to you and I am sorry for your loss of the three. Serious illness in the family does call on us to be strong, but that can be very difficult at times. That last paragraph is something we all should keep in mind.
    This is a lovely tribute to your Aunt, I love cherry cheesecake-yum!

  4. Marina {Yummy Mummy) says

    This has got to be delicious! I want to dive right into that bowl! And the best kinds of recipes are those with family history. xo

  5. Kim Bee says

    @Jenni- Thanks so much, you are so sweet. I have to admit I ate way too much of this stuff this week. But it's so good.

    @Dara- Aw, I didn't mean to make you tear up. I should put a warning on some of my posts. Thanks so much my dear.

    @Tina- Thanks so much. I think we all get caught up in the day to day and forget what's really important. So easy to do with all we try to do in a day. Guilty of it myself. Then life smacks me in the face again to remind me.

    @Marina- Thanks my dear. I totally agree. Sadly I don't have a ton with stories behind them. My mom was not a stellar cook so my stories are few and far between. Great mom but did not rock the kitchen. Lol!

  6. says

    I'm sorry for the loss of your Aunt. I'm sure, even though she couldn't express it at the time, that she was grateful to have you by her side.
    I have this same recipe, oddly enough, that my Aunt used to make. She passed from cancer as well when I was in my teens. I always think of her when I make it.
    You have given us all a good reminder to cherish our loved ones while we can.
    I'm glad you took the time you needed for yourself.
    xo, Christie

  7. Lynds says

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I am thinking of you and your family and glad that you took some time off to just chill and spend time with your family. That's what is most important in life.

    That being said though this looks absolutely amazing! I could dive in to all 3 bowls quite happily! Look after yourself : )

  8. Christine's Pantry says

    Lovely tribute to your Aunt. My heart goes out to you and your family. I am sorry for your loss. Your cheesecake looks amazing.

  9. Jeff Rasmussen says

    This must have been difficult to write, so bravo for your willpower to do so. It is nice to know that the siblings are all together again.

    And even though I don't know you, know that I love you too! *Internet hug*!

  10. mividaenundulce says

    I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm glad you are a strong woman. English is not my language so it's a little bit hard for me to express some kind of feelings in another language than mine. My mother-and father-in-law passed from cancer so I know how difficult it is for the family to deal with this. My heart is with you.
    An yes, early detection can make all the difference.

  11. Kiri W. says

    Hugs to you!
    I am glad you're feeling better, and I am so sorry for your loss. My grandmother had Alzheimer's for a long time, and for the last few years only made grunting noises. I recently lost my godmother to cancer (very quick brain cancer) and know how you must feel.
    On the bright side, these cheesecakes look stunning! I have such a weak spot where cheesecake is concerned…

  12. janet@fromcupcakestocaviar says

    Kim, I'm glad to see you back (I was going to write you tonight because I was beginning to get worried) but I also understand the reason you needed a break. I get the same way when the anniversary of my dads death comes around so I can totally empathize, my friend.
    *lots of hugs and lots of chocolate*

  13. Lizzy Do says

    Kim,I'm so sorry for all the awful cancer that has struck your family…and the emotional roller coaster of this holiday. You truly know what is important in life…such a good example you are to us and your family.

    What a great way to remember your aunt…I'm sure she's smiling down at you from heaven…with your dad and Donna by her side. xoxo

  14. Sandra says

    Ohh sweetie..I am so sorry about your loss! It must be hard especially over holidays! You are so thoughtful for dedicating this post to them! And your cheesecake look incredible, what a photos! Wow! Defiantly top 9!!!!
    Sending you virtual hugs and kisses, feel better soon!!!!

  15. Kim Bee says

    @Christie- Thanks so much. It is sure amazing how many people are touched by cancer. It's just an evil thing. I am so sorry you dealt with it at such a young age. On a lighter note I was hoping someone would recognize it so I could figure out it's origin. Do you know where it came from? I just figured she clipped it from a newspaper or from one of those flyers that go around in them.

    @Lynds- Thanks so much my dear. It was a painful remember to stop spinning in circles and slow down. I am the same way, give me a pool filled with cheesecake and I'd be swimming in it.

    @Christine- Thank you very much. I appreciate your kind words.

    @Jeff- That was so sweet of you. I almost burst into tears and I am not a tearful gal normally. Thank you so much for that. xx

    @myvidaenundulce- You did great at expressing yourself and I'm so thankful you stopped by. You are so sweet and I appreciate it.

    @Kiri- Thanks my dear. I think at some point we are all touched by cancer and alz, it's just heartbreaking. Sorry for your losses as well. Cheesecake just seemed to be the right thing to distract people. Nothing beats a good cheesecake.

    @Janet- Thank you so much my friend. I didn't mean to worry anyone, just needed a brief break. Happy to be back and hoping the next couple of months is heartbreak free.

    @Happy When Not Hungry- Thank you so much.

    @Lizzy- It was a hard time for all. So many things going on behind the scenes too, made for a hard week. Glad life is moving forward and happy to be back online. Thanks so much for your support my dear. I really appreciate it.

  16. Kim Bee says

    @Liz- Thanks so much!

    @Sandra- Thank you my dear. I truly appreciate it. I have much empathy for my cousin. I was in his shoes about 4 years ago and it's not easy. I was tempted to edit the photos but decided to leave them untouched. Glad I did. xx

  17. Anita at Hungry Couple says

    I'm sorry you've endured so much loss, Kim, but I appreciate your personal stories and recipes. My mother taught me to make a no-bake cheesecake, too, when I was growing up. It's different from yours (lemony with a butter cookie crust) but the spirit of it is the same. Thanks for bringing back that memory.

  18. Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen says

    Kim, I'm so sorry to read about your aunt. I've been so crazy busy the past few weeks, I'm just now finding some time to catch up with my blogging buddies. I was really sad to hear you've had a rough few weeks– it's especially tough to deal with those things during the holidays. This post and the recipe are a great tribute to your aunt. Sending you a virtual hug and blessings! xoxo

  19. Anna @ hiddenponies says

    Thanks for sharing your story…you give me hope that I will cope with half your grace in similar situations.

  20. Ann says

    Kim, that was beautifully written and such a lovely tribute to your family! I agree, the best thing you can give someone when they're sick is time – and you have generously given of yourself time and time again. I'm glad the break was refreshing to you and it's good to have you back.

    Much love and great big hugs, my friend~

  21. Manu says

    This is the most touching post I have ever read. I came by for a recipe and I am leaving with so much more. I am so sorry for your loss yet I feel so proud of you for facing life the way you do. Sending you a HUGE virtual hug!!! <3

  22. Heather Lynne says

    What a wonderful post. Cancer affects the lives of so many people.
    I do love your quick and easy cheesecakes-these would be perfect to make if unexpected company shows up!

  23. Anne Regalado says

    Hey Kim , hope you're doing great and my condolences . That lovely cheesecake will surely makes your Aunt Barb smile somewhere :)

  24. Curry and Comfort says

    Kim, my deepest condolences to you and your family. I am so sorry you have gone through such a tough time these last few weeks. I am glad you got to see your Aunt before she passed. What a lovely tribute to show us a beautiful dessert (no bake-my favorite)that your Aunt showed you how to make. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers to get your through this tough time. Sending you a big hug! ~ Ramona

  25. Crunchy Creamy Sweet says

    What a beautiful post, Kim. I am so sorry for your loss.. You are an inspiration to all of us, Sweetie! The cheesecake looks great!

  26. Becka (The Elegant Eggplant) says

    I am so sorry about your aunt!! Loved ones passing away is so hard, especially around the holidays. I hope this cheesecake comforted you… cheesecake heals everything :)

  27. Mellissa @ IbreatheI'mhungry says

    Hey Kim, so sorry for your loss! Hope things get better for your family soon – you guys definitely deserve a break!

  28. easyfoodsmith says

    Sorry to hear about your loss. I too lost my mom to cancer in 2007. Despite early detection and medical attention she lost the battle after fighting hard for two years.
    The cheesecake looks beautiful and I am sure it must have brought some lovely reminiscence of the wonderful times that you had spent with your aunt.

  29. Kim Bee says

    Hi folks. I am reading these, but just running out the door. Shall stop in tonight to reply to everyone personally. Thank you so much everyone, you are all so kind and supportive. I am moved! xx

  30. Tina (PinayInTexas) says

    I am so sorry for your lost, Kim! This is such a wonderful tribute to your aunt!
    Gorgeous cherry cheesecake, btw! Love that it is no baked.

  31. Peggy says

    Glad to see you are back, and what a lovely tribute to your aunt. It's hard losing a loved one, and the memories that are brought back during those time, but you're strong Kim – we all see it! Take all the time you need and I hope you and your family are doing well =)

  32. Jackie @ Domestic Fits says

    Wow. Kim, this made me cry. Thank you so much for posting it. I am also a member of The Childhood Dead Parent Club, and it seems like each loss brings up that one. You should update your post with a link to the American Cancer Society, or even a local charity that helped you Aunt, or your Dad so that people can donate or even just learn more. Thank you for sharing this.

  33. Soni says

    So sorry for your loss and so moved by your story Kim.You're very strong and inspiring.Enjoy that cheesecake.You deserve it girl!

    What a nice tribute to your aunt!I'm sure she is looking down at you smiling and proud of you and so is your Dad.

  34. S.V. says

    This is a wonderful tribute to your aunt. I come from an Asian family where when a family member is sick there is no question they will be living with someone. I stayed home from college and helped my mother care for my grandmother who had Alzheimer's and lived with us at the time. It was to much to bear for my mom and my dad was stationed out of the country and there I was 17 taking care of my Asian speaking grandmother alone. Needless to say I do not speak Chinese. I applaud your strength to take care of your father and to be there for your aunt it is not the easiest thing to do. And everyone does deserve peace at then end.

  35. Kels @ K and K Test Kitchen says

    I'm so sorry for your loss, but inspired by your strength. The holidays are truly a tough time to lose a loved one. Thinking of you and your family, and hoping you get a bit of a break. Big hugs to you all.

  36. Kim Bee says

    @Anita- Thanks so much. Your cheesecake sounds divine. I am so happy to have brought back a memory for you. I love how food inspires such memories.

    @Tori- Hi my lovely friend. I've missed you. Thanks so much for your kind words, I really appreciate it. Taking that hug gladly!

    @Anna- Aw, you are so sweet. Thank you so much.

    @Torviewtoronto- Thanks so much!

    @Ann- Thank you so much my dear. You've been such a big help, thanks for letting me vent when needed. xx

    @Manu- Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are so sweet.

    @Baker Street- Thank you so much!

    @Heather Lynne- Thank you. These would be perfect for a quick dessert for company. Plus they are just cute.

    @Anne- Thanks so much my dear. You are so sweet. I'm doing okay, needed a break to regroup.

    @The Mom Chef- Aw, I'll take that hug even if it is virtually. Thanks my dear!

    @Ramona- Thanks so much. You are so kind and I appreciate the support. It means a lot to me.

    @Crunchy Creamy Sweet- Thanks so much. You are so kind.

    @Becka- Thanks. Totally agreed, cheesecake is the answer to most problems.

    @Mellissa- Thank you. I was happy to have a couple days to myself.

    @easyfoodsmith- I am so sorry about your mom. That is so sad. My dad's battle was only 8 months, I can only imagine how hard 2 years would have been. Much empathy! xx

    @Tina- Thank you. I am a huge fan of no bake.

    @Peggy- Thanks so much. I swear I never feel strong but just do the best I can. You are so sweet. xx

    @Jackie- It's a tough club for sure, I remember walking in the house after dad died and looking at my brother and saying "well we're orphans now." Silly when we were older but it was just such a horrible feeling. Sorry I made you cry. I will be writing a post for my dad where I will include the Cancer info and links. Thanks so much for the suggestion. I truly appreciate it. xx

    @Soni- Thanks so much. You are so sweet. xx

    @S.V.- That is absolutely amazing that you did that. What strength you have. I am in awe. Thanks so much for sharing that story with me. xx

    @Cucina- Thank you!

    @Kels- Thank you so much my dear. I appreciate your kind words.

  37. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. says

    Oh, Kim. This was such a beautiful and heartfelt post. Your Aunt was a wonderful woman and these cheesecakes were such a great way to honor her!

  38. Buttercream Blondie says

    Kim, I'm sorry for your loss. Please know you have been in my thoughts and prayers. Beautiful tribute to your aunt and lovely looking cheesecakes :) Glad you gave yourself a break & very glad to see you are back! Off to check out your latest ice cream!

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