This exceptionally delicious cheesecake treat isn't overly sweet, is high in nutrition - calcium, antioxidants, vitamins - and low in fat. You can further reduce the sugar content with a couple of changes, if that's a priority for you.
2 3-oz pkgs. cherry-flavored gelatin OR 1
6-oz. pkg. (Note #1)
Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add cherry gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add cranberry sauce and stir to break up and dissolve the sauce. Stir until all the jelled cranberry has melted and only the cranberries remain whole.
Drain the cherry juice into a bowl, using a non-metallic colander. Mush the cherries with your fingers to further drain the juice and break up the cherries into small pieces. When cherries are completely drained, add them to the gelatin/cranberry combination.
Put the cherry juice into a two-cup measuring cup. Add enough ice cubes (or water) to make almost but not quite 2 cups. Add to the cherry-berry mix, stirring until the ice cubes are entirely melted.
Pour into a 3-quart casserole or other dish. Chill until gelatin is set. (Note #2)
Put 1/4 cup of water into a glass bowl or measuring cup. Add the unflavored gelatin and let set for two or three minutes to soften. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt. (Note #3). Make the Vanilla Pudding according to instructions, but adding an extra rounded teaspoon of cornstarch. (If you don't use egg yolks, use two teaspoons of extra cornstarch.) At the end, add an addition 1/2 cup of fat-free sour cream, the melted unflavored gelatin, plus 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract.
Allow the pudding to cool to barely warm, stirring from time to time so a skin doesn't form. Pour gently on top of the cherry-berry gelatin mixture. (Note # 4) Chill thoroughly for several hours until firm, preferably overnight.
Note #1: You may cut sugar and calories by substituting sugar-free gelatin if that's your priority. Personally I straddle the fence by using 1 package of regular and 1 sugar-free. You may also use artificial sweetener for part of the sugar in the pudding, although it's hardly worth it as it isn't high sugar, and the flavor and texture won't be the same.
Note #2: If using individual custard cups, dessert dishes or even disposable cups, fill them half full to allow room for the cheesy pudding on top.
Note #3: If you don't have a microwave, put the water in a small pan and proceed as above, using low heat to melt.
Note #4: Optional:
sprinkle graham cracker crumbs or finely chopped almonds or other nuts around the
outside edge of the pudding topping. You may also top each dish with a small
dollop of reduced calorie whipped topping and perhaps a mint leaf or a bit of shaved
bittersweet chocolate for a fancy party presentation.