Woolworth Icebox Cheesecake Recipe is a light and fluffy, no-bake dessert with a hint of lemon flavor on top of a graham cracker crust.
Most people over a certain age have probably heard of, or even visited, a Woolworth store. It started out as a five-and-dime store, selling things that only cost 5 or 10 cents until it became a popular department store. And, the lunch counter was an added attraction, serving food, including its famous Icebox Cheesecake Recipe.
There are two parts to this no-bake dessert–the graham cracker crust and the light filling.
Graham Crackers: You can buy graham cracker crumbs to use for the crust (about 2 cups). Or, you could crush sheets of graham crackers. You will need about 11 full sheets of graham crackers for 2 cups of crumbs.
Cream Cheese: Be sure the cream cheese is at room temperature when creaming with the sugar.
Jello Mix: The lemon-flavored box of jello mix gives the dessert just a hint of lemon flavor (but not even close to overwhelming). You could even try other flavors of jello!
Water: You will use both boiling water (212°F) and cold water (55°F) for the filling.
Evaporated Milk: Evaporated milk is super-concentrated milk that helps give the dessert filling its creamy texture. It should not be confused with sweetened condensed milk, which has added sugar. They should not be used interchangeably in recipes.
Chilling the Bowl and Whisk Attachment of Stand Mixer
If you looked at the Woolworth Icebox Cheesecake recipe below, you may notice the first instruction is to chill the bowl of a stand mixer, as well as the whisk attachment. If possible, do not skip this step. Place the bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least half an hour before whisking the evaporated milk.
The reason behind this is to make it easier to form peaks in the evaporated milk when whipped. The milk has a lower fat content compared to whipping cream, so it’s harder to whip.
Graham Cracker Crust
To make the crust, first, add the graham crackers and sugar in a bowl. Mix the ingredients together, and then add the melted butter. Make sure that every single graham cracker crumb is coated in butter. The butter binds everything together; there should be no dry spots.
After mixing together the crust, measure out 1/4 cup of the graham cracker mixture and set aside. You will use this as a topping to the dessert. Press the remaining mixture to the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Set this aside as you prepare the filling.
How to Make Woolworth Icebox Cheesecake
With the crust in the pan, it’s time to get the rest of this no-bake dessert made. To make the filling, first, cream together the room temperature cream cheese and sugar with a hand mixer. The reason to cream is to get a lot of air in the mixture, so mix until you have a light and fluffy consistency. Next, mix in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, add the jello mix and boiling water. Whisk together until the jello mix has dissolved. Then, pour in the cold water and place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes. The jello will not set; it will just be in the fridge while you whip the evaporated milk.
To whip the evaporated milk, take the bowl of the stand mixer and whisk attachment out of the freezer. Add the evaporated milk to the bowl and whisk on high for about 5 minutes, or until soft peaks form. Soft peaks will just briefly ‘stand’ on their own before falling back into the milk.
Once you have soft peaks, add the jello mixture from the refrigerator and whisk an additional 30 seconds or so. Then, add the cream cheese mixture and whisk for another 30 seconds. Finally, pour the mixture into the pan, over the graham cracker crust.
Top with the reserved 1/4 cup of graham crackers and chill the dessert in the refrigerator overnight before serving. The end result is a light and fluffy dessert, a little lighter than a cheesecake.
Do I Have to Freeze Icebox Cheesecake Recipe?
No, you don’t have to freeze this dessert, even with Icebox in the name. In fact, an icebox used to refer to a non-mechanical ‘refrigerator’ before we had electric refrigerators. So, you do have to store the cheesecake in the refrigerator (covered, for up to a week), but no need to make room in your freezer. The only freezing needed with this recipe is to chill the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer.
How Does it Taste?
Heaven. Seriously! It is light as air and melts into a velvety cloud of creamy deliciousness in your mouth. It’s almost like a “cloud cheesecake”. The lemon is so subtle, if you hadn’t made it you almost wouldn’t be able to detect it is there! This dessert is worth making and there is a reason it is so famous!
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick or 113g) butter, melted
- 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 box (3 ounces) lemon jello mix
- ½ cup boiling water, about 212°F
- ½ cup cold water, about 50°F
- 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk, chilled
Chill the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. (This will help get peaks when whipping the evaporated milk.)
Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, add graham crackers and sugar and mix together.
Add melted butter and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated (no dry spots).
Reserve ¼ cup of the graham cracker mixture and set aside.
Press the remaining crumbs firmly into the bottom of the prepared 9×13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
In a medium bowl cream together cream cheese and sugar with a hand mixer. Add vanilla and mix until well blended (2-3 minutes). Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, add jello mix and boiling water. Whisk until the jello mix dissolves (1-2 minutes). Add cold water and set the mixture in the refrigerator for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the filling, but do not let the gelatin set.
To a stand mixer, add the chilled bowl and whisk attachment. Add the evaporated milk and mix on high until soft peaks form (about 5 minutes).
Add the jello mixture and continue to whisk for 30 more seconds.
Add cream cheese mixture and whisk for 30 more seconds.
Pour mixture into the pan and top with the reserved graham cracker mixture.
Chill overnight before serving.