Saturday, January 12, 2013

Woolworth's Cheesecake Recipe

I have the most unusual fondness for Woolworth's... I have only vague memories of going there with my mom while growing up in Alabama, but nonetheless they are fond memories... I remember eating at the lunch counter... well, I remember chocolate milkshakes at the lunch counter:)  I also remember that they had a toy section with really inexpensive toys and if I was really, really good... I might actually get to take one of those prizes home.  I remember it as "special time" with just me and my mom.

My fondness for Woolworth's continues with my love of Nanci Griffith and her music... in her live recording of "Love at the Five and Dime" (she wrote it, by the way... not Kathy Matea)... she has a whole story about Woolworth stores.  My favorite line is when she says "Woolworth stores everywhere smell the same... they smell like popcorn and chewing gum rubbed around on the bottom of a leather soled shoe"....  She also reminisces about running across a Woolworth's in Europe and asking the driver to "stop the car and let me out so I can go fill up my suitcase with unnecessary plastic objects..."

Photo of a Woolworths from "Gone But Not Forgotten"

So I guess that's what the memory of Woolworth's represents to me.... unnecessary plastic objects, the smell of popcorn and chewing gum on a leather soled shoe... and the lunch counter with my mom.

Woolworth's Cheesecake

A while back, a family friend asked me if I had the recipe for Woolworth's cheesecake.  I didn't even remember that they had a cheesecake, so I surely didn't have the recipe.  Anyhow, that of course provoked me to launch an internet search for the recipe.  

Now I can't be certain if  this is the actual recipe... there are a lot of them out there, but this is the one I tried.  The first time I made it, I thought "wow... this is a LOT of dessert"... So invited some friends over and shared it with them.  I kind of regretted it afterwards because it was so amazing.  I especially like the graham cracker crust on this dessert, and I have since adopted this variation for every recipe I use that calls for a graham cracker crust.   It is simply wonderful.  

Now while this is called "cheesecake"... it's really not.  Not by a long shot... but it is really, really delicious.  Light, refreshing, and addictive.  The only modifications I made to this recipe was to add an extra 8oz of cream cheese... I substituted lemon extract for the vanilla... and I added 2 TBSP of lemon juice.  

It's that perfect "9x13 potluck dish"

Woolworth Cheesecake:  The Recipe

  • Ingredients
  • 1 box graham cracker crumbs (3 cups) more for thicker crust
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • 1 3oz box lemon jello
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 can evaporated milk

  • Preparation
  • 1st place can of evaporated milk in freezer, it needs to be ice cold (about 30 minutes)
  • 2nd. Mix Jello with 1 cup hot water in small bowl, stir until dissolved and put in freezer for a quick set, you want it to thicken some but NOT set stir once about 20 minutes, then put in refrigerator until ready to use.
  • 3rd. Mix graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and melted butter until well blended, put 3/4 of it in bottom of 9X13 pan. Press to form crust, save rest of mixture for later.
  • 4th. Mix cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla until well blended, set aside.
  • 5th. When Jello starts to thicken it is time to start. Open can of evaporated milk and pour into large bowl and beat until fluffy and looks like whipped cream. Add cream cheese mixture until well blended, slowly mix in the jello, pour into pan, sprinkle with remaining graham cracker crumbs, refrigerate about two hours before serving, store covered in refrigerator.


  1. I am loving your blog...this, once again, sounds delish!

    1. Thanks, Judy... and it is "delish"... it's that perfect cafeteria counter dessert....

  2. What size can of evaporated milk does it call for? There are two different sizes at my store.

    1. I don't have a can at the house right now, but I think it's around 15 oz.... If I'm recalling correctly what my grocery store offers, there is a pretty small can, and then the larger can which is around 15 oz. Think somewhere in the 2 cup range:) Hope that helps!

    2. and it must be the regular evaporated milk, not the Evaporated Skim milk. The skim variety will not whip up stiff.

    3. That's good to know. Thanks! Although, when I bake, I never buy low fat, skimmed, reduced fat, reduced sugar, etc.... I mean, what's the point? ;) Thanks for reading.

  3. I have had this recipie since 1071 but didnt know it was a Wooworth recipie. It was always well received when it was taken to potluck meals. It is truly light tasting and refreshing dessert.

    1. I think it's the perfect potluck, picnic, bbq dessert, don't you?

      Thanks for reading!

  4. Just made this and am so happy. As a farm kid, it was a big deal that we would go to Woolworths after a trip to the dentist and my mom ALWAYS had the fluffy cheesecake and I remember her just swooning over it. She was an amazing cook and baker and I am thinking she just really loved anything someone else made. HA! I have been looking up recipes for this and was happy to see that yours didn't call for lemon juice like most do. It's perfect and nostalgic. Thank you so much.

  5. I also remember the Woolworth cheese cakes . Thank you for the recipe. I use to always shop at Woolworth's in Victoria BC. Canada . We use to stop and have coffee and n Orange Twist. It was like a cake doughnut but was twisted and had an orange glaze on it. Would love to find the recipe for them. Thank you for your post.

  6. I use to shop @ Woolworths in Calgary AB as a kid with my dad & grandma, always a treat to sit at the counter for lunch. Making this recipe again, love how light & tasty, so easy to make.

  7. I remember this, we uses to go to Woolworths for lunch in High School, it was 2 blocks away we always had the cheescake : ) Than-you for this happy memory from my past now I can share it with my family.