The Retro Mom

Bringing your grandmother's comfort food out of her recipe box and into your gluten-free kitchen

New But Still Retro Pistachio Cheesecake


OK, so maybe this recipe is new. Like really new. Pinterest new. But the idea is straight out of the 50’s. Trust me.

How can this be? Well…..(enter fog machine and harp music)…….

It was around The Dude’s birthday a few years ago, and I wanted to make him a cheesecake. It’s his favorite dessert. Right after or tied with chocolate pie. He’s so American, it’s just cute. My All-American man. Wait? Where was I?


I wanted to make him a cheesecake, but I had exhausted all of my cheese cake recipes. His favorite was Emeril Lagasse’s Milk Chocolate Cheesecake. And I approved of that recipe.. It was smooth, creamy and chocolatey. But, I wanted to make him something new. All sorts of wonderful things popped up – chocolate orange cheesecake, peppermint cheesecake, triple chocolate cheesecake – and then, there it was – Pistachio Cheesecake. I clicked on the recipe, from A Taste Of Home, which is a wonderful magazine. All that I had hoped for, I think I heard music when I saw it…… Except that it was made from Jello Pudding. Jello Pudding? I don’t use Jello in anything – it has too many ingredients that don’t need to be in there. But, since the kids weren’t eating it, I could make it just this once. The Dude’s been good at being gluten-free, some Blue #643 and a little anti-foaming agent were easy to overlook this once. I started channeling my retro self and got into the kitchen. Well, actually first I went to the store to get everything. Then, I started channeling my inner 1950’s housewife……let’s call her Lillian.

Can you see her? Apron clad, high heels, hair perfectly coiffed, red-but-not-too-red lips, standing in a perfectly spotless kitchen describing the latest time-saving recipe she read about in Good Housekeeping:


“Whenever I want to treat my husband to a special man-sized dessert, I look no further than the boxes of Jello Brand Instant Pudding Mix in my pantry. I always keep many assorted flavors of Jello Brand Instant Pudding Mix in my home, because they are so useful in various recipes and economical too!”

(points to Jello boxes)

“And with the streamlined recipes that Jello Brand Instant Pudding Mix provides, my work in the kitchen may be cut in half, but I never have to sacrifice the quality that my family deserves!”

(opens a box of pistachio Jello Pudding and a neat special effect happens that flash-forwards her Doctor-Who style to a finished cheesecake, seemingly in an instant. As instant as the pudding…..)

“This new recipe for Pistachio Cheesecake was a snap (actually snaps fingers) to make, and so tasty! I’m sure my husband will be so very pleased!”

This is how it really happened. More or less. Probly more on the less side, but you understand. The vintage mom would have loved a way to make a tasty, streamlined, easy and time-saving recipe for this new thing called “cheesecake”. How exotic! A cake made of cheese and sugar, and flavored with Jello Brand Instant Pudding Mix! OK, enough with the name calling.

Bring on the cheesecakey goodness.

Now, I wish I could present to you the most luscious picture of cheesecake ever seen on this planet – but I can’t. I simply couldn’t make The Dude wait while I set up lighting and captured 600 shots of his birthday dessert.  And he won’t let me publish the pictures of him enjoying said dessert. So, this is as good as it gets……


Let’s see how the gluten-free magic happened this time….Here is the link to the recipe on the Taste of Home page, and here is a lovely page full of cheesecakes on Pinterest.

Here’s What I Did:

Well, the first thing I did was laugh at the suggested 12-14 servings it is supposed to make. Try 8. We go big over here.


1. I didn’t use Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I know. I used rBst free trader Joes Cream Cheese. It tasted the same. Really. I also DID use sweetened, condensed milk. Organic, as always. The Dude deserves a rich, dairy-filled dessert once of twice a year.

*Helpful Hint From Heloise: Beat this cheesecake like you have never beat anything before. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often. Then beat is some more. The pudding mix tends to stick to the sides/bottom of the bowl. Scrape then beat. Really. Over and over. And if you are used to using a water-bath for cheesecakes, you won’t need one here. Honest.


2. I used gluten-free oreo-type cookies for the crust. Mine were from Trader Joes. I just crushed them up in the food processor and added Kerrygold butter. I did not prebake the crust. I really like a cookie crust for cheesecakes, and chocolate really breaks up the richness of this dessert.

Here’s a before and after shot:

cheesecake before and after

3. That’s really all that I changed from the original recipe. We skipped the chocolate sauce and whipped cream. It’s cheesecake – no need to put schmutz all over it. And as for the well-doneness of the cheesecake? It just happens. I think it is the ingredients in the Jello that make this overcook on top. It tastes just fine, and even in the professional picture the top looks very brown.

It was gone in 36 hours. Really. Until next year…….

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