Cambrian: Opinion

Chocolate-cherry cheesecake not enough? Try a Turtle Tart

An unknown admirer arrived to sample five pieces of pie, dressed in an appropriate shirt.
An unknown admirer arrived to sample five pieces of pie, dressed in an appropriate shirt.

What a wonderful way to literally fall into the wintery season — warm sunny days, crisp cold nights and a day full of rain. I could feel the earth inhale with relief. Certainly we humans felt relief, as well as hope — hope that more is yet to come. Meanwhile we continue to conserve. At least, I hope we do.

As promised, we have received two more recipes from this year’s entrants in the Cambria Historical Society Harvest Festival Pie Contest. Six-year-old Bennjamen Murdoch successfully works with his youthful grandmother Lesli (Bubby) Murdoch to produce desserts any like-minded kid can do.

You may remember his winning streak in recent years, and his enthusiasm for participating. Though his pie came in a close second this year, he showed wonderful sportsmanship as the other winners were announced, saying, “Well, what shall we bake next year?”

Bennjamen’s and Bubby’s Chocolate/Cherry Cheesecake Pie

  • 25 Oreo cookies, creamy centers removed
  • 5-6 tblsp. butter, melted
  • 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided use
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch (or more if desired)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup pitted frozen cherries
  • 1 can “Tart Red Cherries” in water, drained
  • Cherry flavoring extract

Place cookies in a zipper bag and crush to fine crumbs; add butter and mix to moisten. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and add cookie crumbs; form to make crust. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, one cup sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat on low until well blended. Reserve three cups of batter. Add melted chocolate to one batch of batter and mix well; pour into pie crust. In the other three cups, add cherry extract to your taste and mix well. Spoon carefully over the chocolate layer. Bake 65 minutes or until center is set (ovens will vary). Cool and refrigerate at least four hours.

Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and water in a medium saucepan. Stir in remaining sugar, add fresh and drained tart cherries, and stir. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and sauce is thickened. (It will continue to thicken as it sets.) Add a bit more cherry extract, if you wish. Cool completely until ready to spoon over the top of the cheesecake; allow to chill and set before serving. Enjoy!

Bennjamen is totally involved in the mixing and requires supervision only with the stove and oven. Lesli bought the LorAnn Oils Cherry flavoring at A Matter of Taste on Burton Drive in East Village, Cambria.

When Joyce Backhaus’ nieces flew in to celebrate her birthday, they raved about her longtime family specialty, and convinced her to enter this in the pie contest. Using her notes, Joyce recalled jotting this down during a TV show. Lucky us!

Turtle Tart

  • 1 baked 9” pie crust


  • 1-1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 egg

Mix tart ingredients well and pat into fluted 10-inch pie plate. Cover with foil, fill with beans, and do a “blind bake” for 10 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven. Cool; remove foil and beans.


  • 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate pieces
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 14 oz. caramels
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups toasted pecans, chopped

On a flat sheet, toast pecans in oven for 5 minutes at 325 degrees (ovens will vary), cool and chop. Melt chocolate in 1/3 cup heavy cream, mixing well. Reserving 1/4 cup for garnish, pour into the baked crust and spread on the bottom. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Melt caramels in 1/2 cup heavy cream, and pour over the chocolate layer.

Press the chopped toasted pecans into the caramel; drizzle reserved chocolate over the top. Chill in the fridge until firm before cutting into thin wedges. Enjoy!