1 lb, 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
16 ounces cool whip
1 cup powder sugar
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 & 1/2 tsp orange extract
2 oz brandy or orange liquor (optional)
1 Tbsp orange zest
8 oz can mandarin oranges, drained
1 & 1/2 oz (half a box) orange Jello
1/2 envelope unflavored gelatin & just enough water to melt it
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
Combine all 3 crust ingredients and mix together. Press into bottom of lightly sprayed 9″- 10″ springform cheese cake pan or 13 x 9 cake pan. Reserve 1/4 cup for topping your cheese cake. Set pan aside.
In mixing bowl beat cream cheese, sugar, orange juice and orange extract until smooth. Add brandy or orange liquor (if desired). **If this is omitted more orange juice may need to be added to prevent cheese cake from being to stiff. Add orange jello and orange zest, mix in completely, scrape outside of bowl. Add in softened gelatin mixture until mixed in. Quickly fold in whipped cream or Cool Whip until completely mixed together. Place 1/2 of cheese cake mix in pan and level with a spatula or knife. Layer mandarin oranges in a single layer on top of cheese cake mix saving 8 or 10 for garnishing the top. Top with remaining cheese cake mix and level again with spatula or knife. Place dollops of whipped cream or cool whip on top based on how many mandarin oranges you have left. Place an orange on each dollop. Lightly sprinkle top of cheese cake with as much of remaining graham cracker mix as you like. Place in Refrigerator until set. Slice and serve.