Simple cherry cheesecake parfaits

A no-bake version of a retro favourite!

Cheesecake was my mom’s “fancy” dessert in the 1970s and her go-to recipe included a big can of gooey cherry pie filling. While I’ll always have fond memories of that dish, I wanted to lighten it up to suit modern palates. Combining whipped mascarpone with barely-cooked sweet cherries and crushed cookies makes this a simple and delicious no-bake dessert that everyone will enjoy, especially when the weather’s hot. If fresh cherries are not in season where you live, frozen ones make a great substitute and if cherries aren’t your thing, then here’s a no-bake mini apple pie cheesecake recipe you might enjoy instead.


  • 2 cups (500 mL) ripe, sweet cherries, pitted and halved
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) water
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) almond or vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (250 mL) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature *
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) white sugar
  • 8 cookies (ginger, oatmeal, graham cracker etc.), crushed into crumbs

* Mascarpone has a more satiny texture and less sodium than cream cheese but of course you can substitute with cream cheese if you prefer


  • Put prepared cherries and water in a small pot placed over medium-low heat.
  • In a small bowl, blend together the 3 tablespoons (45 mL) white sugar with the cornstarch and sprinkle over cherries. Stir to blend well.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until cherries are slightly softened and sauce is glossy and thick.
  • Remove from heat and add almond extract. Transfer to a bowl; refrigerate to cool.
  • While cherry mixture is cooling, in a medium bowl, blend together mascarpone and 1/4 cup (60 mL) sugar; beat until smooth. To make it easy to assemble the parfaits, transfer the whipped mascarpone to a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip, or to a zip lock bag (and snip one corner off to turn it into a piping bag).
  • To assemble parfaits, place about 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the cherry mixture in the bottom of four serving dishes (small mason jars, cocktail glasses or even wine glasses work well).
  • Pipe about 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 mL) of the mascarpone mixture on top, then add a tablespoon of the crushed cookies.
  • Repeat all three layers then top with one cherry half.
  • Refrigerate for up to four hours until ready to serve.

Makes 6 – 8 individual desserts depending upon the size of your dishes.


Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

2 thoughts

  1. This sounds very tasty paula. I know I am being pedantic but cherries would never be measured in mls, only grams so two cups is about 280 grams. Mils is a liquid measurement.

    1. Hi Sherry – I thought I had approved and replied sooner but there was some kind of glitch. I hear you … perhaps it is just a weird Canadian thing but lots of people use mL for non-liquid measurements here which is why I went the path of least resistance. I may revisit going forward.

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