Book Cookin’ Thursday #4: Prison Cheesecake

(Yes, yes, it’s not Thursday, but let’s all just pretend. It was a long week at the ol’ day job!)

There are certain universal truths about any large gathering of women. There will be gossip. There will be long lines for the bathroom.

There will be pot lucks.

My day job, which is predominantly women, actually seems to have some things in common with the womens penitentiary that Piper Kerman describes in her biography “Orange is the New Black”*; a lot of negativity, there are certain people you don’t want to piss off, English-speakers are the minority, news spreads faster than wildfire, the furniture is from 1982 ( the magazines in the lobby, however, are from 2007), but we do eat very well.  At least every month there is a massive pot luck, and everyone has a specialty, something they always bring. Feeding each other is a part of the bonding experience for women, it seems. This is true wherever you are; in girls dorms, at work or in a womans penitentiary.  So today, I’m making Pipers’ Prison Cheesecake. Maybe it will become my go-to put luck dish and I can stop being assigned to salad duty.**

*Obviously without the sexual harassment, constant threat of abuse, isolation from loved ones and metal bars.

**Probably not, I make really good salads…and they don’t trust anyone under 50 to cook any main dishes 😦

“Orange is the New Black”-Pipers’ Prison Cheesecake


  • 4-6 pats of margarine
  • 1 six-oz. package of Graham Crackers, Vanilla Wafers or Oreos (I used graham crackers, about 12)
  • 6 oz. of Coffee Mate
  • 4 cups of vanilla pudding
  • 1 ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 round of Laughing Cow cheese (8 wedges)

1. Steal the margarine from the dining hall, melt in microwave and crumble cookies into a 1-quart Tupperware dish that you’ve bought from the commissary or borrowed from your bunkie along with the margarine. Mix well and press firmly into the bottom of the dish. Place in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Your crust is done. I just got mine from the fridge and I assume that a “pat” is like a teaspoon?

2. In a separate dish, squash Laughing Cow cheese into as smooth a mass as possible. Mix in part of the lemon juice and continue to blend. Try to work out the lumps. Mix in pudding and continue to blend, add more lemon juice to taste. Blend until filling is as creamy as possible, then gradually mix in Coffee Mate. Some people double the Coffee Mate; this seems overboard to me. When mixture is smooth & thick, pour over the crust. Start with about a half cup of lemon. I only used a cup altogether and it was REALLY lemony. So taste periodically. I also split the difference and used 1.5 times the amount of coffee mate. Also the vanilla pudding was sugar-free, so I threw in about a tablespoon of sugar.

3. Chill in your plastic washbucket filled with ice under your bed (or in a refrigerator if the part of the prison where you work has one you can slip it into), for at least 4 hours. Eat. Obviously I used the fridge. I thought about using a basin on ice for authenticity but I already have the reputation as the messy one in this marriage. I don’t think hiding cake under the bed will help my situation.

4. Enjoy!

I’m a bit of a cheesecake snob, so being that this was no-bake I wouldn’t say that this is great cheesecake.  But you know, it really was a nice no-bake cheesecake dish. Smooth and creamy

Make this cheesecake literally ANYWHERE!
Make this cheesecake literally ANYWHERE!

but it held its form when served in slices. I really liked it, I’ll probably make it again, maybe top it with some cherry pie filling…and if I ever get thrown in the slammer I’ll make friends so fast with this pot-luck favorite!***

***Not true. I’m totally getting shanked on the first day.

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