So, the last few weeks have been challenging. Found out that pain from my neck, down my shoulder, radiating down to my fingers was the result of pinched-nerve and mild-bone-spur issues. Not fun.
So grateful for the BF, who has been heroically helping me with everything, including the many things you can't do with one hand, such as opening jars, schlepping 50-pound food-filled bins in heavy glassware, fastening a bra hook. Good times.
It was a week where a cheesecake must be made. [Ed. note: Or a day ending in "y."]
The original recipe comes from Stella Parks of Serious Eats, and to be clear, this is not your traditional New York dense cheesecake. This particular cheesecake is creamy, fluffy and has an acutely concentrated blueberry flavor. Bodes well considering the hot summer months that will be here soon. This will be a go-to dessert for my clients.
I realize it's often said, "Hey folks this dish is really easy to make," but consider I made this for Memorial Day with one hand. It was also a hot day and I didn't have to even bake the crust. Can't wait to try the freeze-dried strawberry and mango versions.
As Stella Parks says in her blog, "Unlike fresh fruit purée or jam, freeze-dried fruit has no water or added sugar, so it packs a concentrated flavor that won't throw off the consistency or sweetness of the no-bake cheesecake filling. And thanks to the low-temperature processing method, freeze-dried fruit has the same bright flavor as fresh, not the semi-caramelized profile of a stovetop reduction."
Adapted from: Stella Parks, Serious Eats
Number of servings: 8-12
November, 1995. It was my BF's birthday (he was not the BF at that time), and I remember making this first-ever attempt at baking a cheesecake. [Ed. note: To quote Private Hudson from Aliens, "Game over, man. Game over."]
Yes. This is the one. Try not to stick your fork through the screen–I dare you.
This delicious caramel bomb made repeat appearances that Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas, and at different times every year after that. My mamala begged me to make it every year for the holidays, and this year I'm making it for a client's Halloween party.
The body of the cheesecake is incredibly creamy (not dense), with a touch of orange juice and a good amount of sour cream. There is a perfect crust-to-filling ratio, and the caramel apple topping is to die for (the caramel stays soft and does not stick to your teeth and harden).
Keep in mind, this makes a large cheesecake (10 inches diameter). Perfect for any get together, my favorite is to offer this at Thanksgiving.
Funny story/cautionary tale: two years ago I made this for my BF again and cut the ingredients in half to make an smaller 8-inch cake (was also going to give half to a neighbor). Just as I was presenting the entire cake to him on a platter, I dropped it. The platter broke, little shards of glass flaked all over and into the cheesecake–unsalvageable.
We stared at the floor for the longest time. Curse words seethed through clenched teeth. Tears were shed. I will not lie, this is not a 30-minute dessert. There is preparation and time involved. (Really, you have to start making this the day before you plan on serving it.) However, the process is very straightforward and the end result is so worth the effort.
Just be careful with those glass platters!
Adapted from: Bon Appetit (September 1995)
Number of servings: 16
Sticking with the strawberry theme from the last post, here's a fun single bite of goodness that has worked well for many of my Fourth-of-July catering events. There are many different ways to customize the filling (suggestions below), but the simple vanilla is a good foil for the chocolate and graham-cracker dip.
I have used gluten-free graham crackers for clients who require that; you can substitute with nuts (chopped pecans, walnuts) or even sprinkles.
Yield: 24 strawberries
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the bay area. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.