Our lives right at this moment very much feel like someone has taken everything we thought we knew, put it on a blanket, and then tossed it up into the air saying “catch!”
When unexpected things happen to me that are beyond my control, I feel the need to get lost in something I feel I can control like crazy-baking and binge-reading books. And maybe it’s this new, inevitable role as an upcoming “mom” that’s making me dive so deeply into both. Maybe it's some weird form of nesting.
Speaking of mom, we celebrated my first Mother’s Day this past Sunday, (I kept calling it my PRE-Mother’s Day) and John treated me to my favorite chocolate chip cookies. Taking crude ingredients like butter, sugar and flour and turning them into something that’s incredibly good and beautiful, is very much my happy place and it seems to be John’s too. I couldn’t help but smile for 20 minutes straight as I sat at the kitchen table pretending to read my book while he measured carefully, singing along to the José Gonzalez, fully aproned, making me cookies.
Because of the recent unexpected hiccups John and I have experienced lately, we have had some great conversations over warm cookies and milk - and last week it was cheesecake and strawberries. And even through our talks were good and deep, I may or may not have cried a few times I was laughing so hard. (John's noticed that I happy-cry-laugh more easily now. I'm okay with it. #hormones)
Dessert is meant to be shared. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. Sucking back on a chocolate shake alone just isn't quite as fulfilling to me as sharing something sweet with someone I love. And I know baking has a bad rap to be precise and perfect, so it scares some of us into not doing it, but I’ve always fancied desserts that aren’t too fussy or exact. I like real and slightly messy... kind of like life. I've always figured it's just dessert after all, usually just the site of it makes people happy, they aren't too bothered with the details. Plus, as noted, it's a great vehicle for great conversation.
More to come. Love you friends.
lazy, good old fashioned cheesecake
Cheesecake is something I’ve been craving lately. Just a good old fashioned, plain cheesecake. I’ve heard that being pregnant with a boy makes you crave tart things. I mean, I craved lemon before, but I have noticed that I really turn my nose at things too sweet and leap at the tart or sour. Plus, I think I’ve chanted “cheesecake, cheesecake” to John like 50 times since being pregnant but never gave into the craving. I think he’s as relieved as I am that I finally buckled down and made some.
bakers note: This cheesecake is really easy and made entirely in the food processor. Even if your cheesecake cracks on the top, that gets hidden as you cover it with the simplest tart sour cream topping. My only concern here is that the cheesecake is so good that it will probably get eaten faster than you’d like. xo
2 cups / 9 oz / 255g graham cracker crumbs (to make this gluten free, use gluten-free graham crackers)
¼ cup / 35g almond meal
½ cup / 1 stick / 107g, unsalted butter, melted
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup / 45g brown sugar
32 oz (4 x 8 oz blocks) / 900g cream cheese, softened to room temperature preferably organic
1 ¼ cup / 250g sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
16 oz / 480g sour cream, preferably organic
3 tablespoons sugar (superfine/caster sugar works great if you have it)
½ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C and line a 9" / 23cm springform pan with parchment paper (just covering the bottom).
In a food processor, grind graham crackers until they reach a fine crumb. Add melted butter, sugar, almond meal and salt and pulse until combined. Press crust firmly into a springform pan, going up the sides of the pan about half way (or less). Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until crust appears slightly browned. Let it cool.
While the crust bakes, rinse + clean food processor.
In clean food processor, pulse cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until combined. Add eggs one at a time and pulse until combined. Pour filling in cooled crust and bake for 55-65 minutes at 350° F / 180° C or until center of cheesecake is no longer extremely jiggly. The cheesecake should bounce back ever so slightly at the touch of your finger, and might appear slightly golden on the edges, it may even be a little cracked. Don’t worry about it. Remember it will continue to set and firm up in the fridge.
Let cheesecake chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Mix the sour cream with sugar and vanilla, and spread on top of your cooled cheesecake. It will drip over the sides a little, but I adore the cream-like topping this creates. You can either serve immediately, or let the topping set a little in the fridge for a few hours.
Serve cheesecake with fresh sweet strawberries.
bonus: for fresh strawberry topping, mix 2 freshly cut pints with ¼ cup organic corn syrup. It creates a wonderful syrup that’s fantastic with the cheesecake. Do not top your cheesecake with this topping unless you are serving it immediately. The topping will make the crust soggy.