April is one of my favorite months of the year. The sun seems to shine a bit brighter.  Yards and gardens are waking up from their long winter naps.  Families excitedly emerge to work and play outdoors.  All is new again.  Hello Spring, welcome back!  Despite Punxsutawney Phil’s chilly prediction, the warm weather has shown up a month early.  March has definitely been more of a lamb than a lion!  In your face groundhog!

celiac coeliac cherry pie

Every year, my family travels to our nation’s capital, Washington, DC for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave the gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, DC. The annual celebration honors the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan.  This year, the world-famous National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry trees.

Viewing the cherry blossoms is absolutely breathtaking.  Light breezes blow through the tree branches and create a shower of delicate pink and white petals while our national monuments serve as a stunning backdrop.  An added bonus for visitors is that Washington, DC is a fabulously gluten-free city!  Dining options abound, from casual to elegant. Be sure to save room for a gluten-free dessert (or two!). For more information on gluten-free travel, visit Delight Gluten-Free Magazine’s interactive map of Washington, DC.

In honor of the Cherry Blossom Festival, I’ve created this delectable cherry-themed dessert. Happy spring!

Gluten-Free Cheesecake with Cherry Topping
Who needs a graham cracker crust?  Whip up a delicious Chex Cereal crust for this cherry cheesecake!

Chex Cereal Crust

2 cups of crushed Rice Chex cereal
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted salted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a food processor add all crust ingredients and blend until thoroughly combined. Press crumbs against the bottom of an 8 inch springform pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Cheesecake

3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese , room temperature
1 ¼ cup white sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Gluten-Free Bisquick
1 can (21-ounces) cherry pie filling

While crust is baking, blend cream cheese until fluffy with a mixer. Slowly incorporate sugar until thoroughly combined.  Add eggs, sour cream, milk, vanilla extract, and Gluten-Free Bisquick.  Using a spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl to ensure the batter is thoroughly combined.   Pour batter into an 8-inch springform pan. Bake in center of oven for 60 minutes at 350 degrees F. Place a baking sheet filled with water on the rack beneath the cheesecake to eliminate cracking and maintain moistness.  After 60 minutes, turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and let the cheesecake remain in the oven for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, refrigerate cheesecake to chill. Add cherry pie topping and serve.