Friday, October 1, 2010

Strawberry Cream Squares

A buttery walnut shortbread crust topped with a light, but not airy cream cheese filling, finished with a layer of strawberry jello. The combination is amazingly satisfying.

This dessert is better known in Hawaii as Jello Cheesecake. When I moved to the mainland and shared this dessert I would consistently receive questioning looks. The word jello and cheesecake together seemed to only take away from this delicious dessert so I renamed it Strawberry Cream Squares.

I’m not quite sure where this recipe originated. (possibly the Jello company, considering the name, but from what region? And how did it get to Hawaii?)

If you are from Hawaii, you are certainly familiar with this dessert. Someone in your circle of family and friends has made one and brought it to a party. My sister in law Teri was that person in my circle who was in charge of making this dessert over and over again throughout the years. I know that my family is grateful that she shared this recipe with us. Strawberry Cream Squares are certainly one of my family’s favorites.

It’s best to make this the day before you want to serve it since it takes time to set up and layer. But I have made it in the morning for dinner and it too, set up fine. Be sure that the cream cheese filling is set well before pouring on the jello or it will bleed together. It will still taste wonderful, but it will not look as pretty.

***Update 4/8/2012
I made these for Easter dinner with a couple of changes I felt were worth mentioning;
  • I substituted the walnuts with pecans which gave the crust more of a praline flavor rather than a toll house cookie flavor.
  • I also made two 8 X 8 squares instead of one 9 X 13 (my family is shrinking) and that way I could give one away that was untouched.
  • I cooled the crust longer than I usually would (about 4 hours) before filling and the crust stayed extra crispy even after 3 days.  There was none left after that to keep on experimenting.
1 cup flour
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup cold butter, (1 stick)
½ cup walnuts, chopped small

Place flour and sugar in a med. mixing bowl and stir to mix. Cut the cold butter into small squares and toss into the flour. With a pastry cutter or your hands blend the butter into the flour until you get a loose cornmealy consistency. Stir in the nuts. Pour the loose mixture into a 9 X 13 dish and spread mixture out evenly. Press mixture into the pan with the bottom of a glass or with your hands. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool crust before adding the filling.

1 small box lemon flavored gelatin
1 cup hot water
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temp.
¾ cup sugar
2 cup heavy whipping cream, (1 pint)

Dissolve lemon gelatin in the 1 cup of hot water and set aside to cool. Whip heavy cream until thick and fluffy, place in the fridge until ready to use. Cream the cream cheese with the sugar. Add the cooled lemon gelatin and mix well. Fold in the whipped cream and pour over cooled crust. Refrigerate until firm to the touch. About an hour.

1 large box strawberry flavored gelatin
1 ½ cups hot water
1 ½ cups cold water, tap is ok

Dissolve strawberry gelatin in the 1 ½ cups hot water then add 1 ½ cups cold water; stir to mix. When the cream cheese filling is set, slowly pour cooled strawberry gelatin on top and refrigerate until completely set. About another hour.


  1. Oh my god! My favorite dessert! Come visit us and bring dat cheese cake!

  2. Thank you for this recipe. I miss the Jello Crwam pie from Zippy's!

    1. Zippy's didn't have these or their bakery for that matter when I was enjoying Jello Cheeses Cake. I only got to enjoy them when Aunty Teri made them :),That sure does date me...

  3. all this zippys talk makes me want chili!

    1. along with a small saimin and a piece of fried chicken. That was my late night go to combo at the infamous Zippy's.

  4. I usually make it at Christmas time and use (green) lime jel-lo in the center and (red) strawberry jel-lo on the top...looks pretty and of course it's so "ono" !

  5. My mom is that person in our family, and she usually made it for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Her version is from the old Coco's restaurant in Waikiki (not affiliated with the mainland chain). It was located where the Hard Rock Cafe now stands. It was a place my parents often took me for weekend brunch, when I was very little. She liked their Jello cheesecake so much, she asked if she could have the recipe, and someone from the kitchen was kind enough to give it to her. She often sent me to the store for the ingredients and had me help her make it. Your recipe is very similar to it. You are very right about making sure to let each layer cool and set well before adding on the next layer. For the crust, it makes a huge difference, and for the cheesecake and jello layers, I have made quite a few tasty, but not-so-pretty messes myself. lol

    1. Hi Abbby,
      Thanks for the info. I remember Coco's restaurant but never knew that's where jello cheesecake may have orriginated.
      Aloha, Susan

    2. How long ago did Coco's close? I grew up on Oahu (and I'm 40 now) but don't remember it.

  6. I am Puertorican, but this looks so good to me. Thanks, can't wait to make it!!!!!!!

    1. Hi Lory, thanks for stopping by :) This is one of my kids favorites!!! Enjoy.

  7. I've been making this a long time now. I make it the way I remember it as a little girl. With macadamia nuts its way better. The original recipe is called jello cream cake

    1. Hi Honolulu Baby, mac nuts would be delicious :) Thanks for sharing.