The dessert known as Jell-O® cheesecake can refer to three different types of dessert, all of which use varying flavors of gelatin and, typically, the standard graham cracker crust found in most cheesecakes. Outside of these basic characteristics, two types of Jell-O® cheesecake include cheesecakes that incorporate the gelatin into the filling and those that use it as a glaze on top. The third type is actually made by the company that manufactures this specific kind of flavored gelatin, and is a cheesecake mix that can be prepared at home with the addition of common household ingredients.
There are endless flavor options when it comes to powdered gelatin, all of which can be incorporated into nearly any cheesecake recipe. The most common are fruit varieties, which can include any flavors from basic cherry to a medley of tropical fruits. Gelatin can also be flavored with other common dessert ingredients, including chocolate, and can turn a plain cheesecake into a decadent dessert.
Powdered gelatin mixes can be a good way to flavor a standard cheesecake recipe. In this variation of Jell-O® cheesecake, the powdered gelatin is mixed with boiling water and then added to the cheesecake mixture, after which the entire combination is poured into a crust and chilled until set. This method of making Jell-O® cheesecake usually provides endless flavor possibilities without weighing down the cheesecake with heavier ingredients.
Nearly as important as the filling is what holds it, and a Jell-O® cheesecake almost always has a graham cracker crust. This part of the dessert is usually made with a simple mixture of ground graham crackers and melted butter, which is pressed into the bottom of a baking dish before the cheesecake filling is spread on top. In some cases, the graham may be swapped out for a chocolate crust, which is often made from a chocolate-flavored graham crackers or chocolate cookies mixed with melted butter.
In another type of Jell-O® cheesecake, the powdered gelatin is mixed with hot water and added as a final layer to an already baked or chilled cheesecake. Once set, the gelatin provides a glaze for the cheesecake, making it possible to have a decadent dish of nearly any flavor. This type of Jell-O® cheesecake is popular for those who prefer a variety of flavors in one cake. Small amounts of different flavors of prepared gelatin can be used to glaze small sections of one cheesecake, creating a sort of sampler without the hassle of making several different cakes.
The term Jell-O® cheesecake may also refer to the prepackaged no-bake cheesecake mix produced by the manufacturer of Jell-O®. This package contains a mix for the crust, filling, and, in some varieties, a gelatin glaze. Common household food items, including butter, milk, and sugar, are mixed with the pre-made mix, and the cheesecake is then assembled and chilled until set. In some cases, the package will come with a gelatin glaze, most often in a fruit flavor, that is prepared and applied to the cheesecake once it is set.