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Roll with the punches

May 29, 2010

Every year, Mr. S and I join together with friends and family to participate in a local JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.  It’s the one time of the year I ask beg for money for a charitable cause.

We’d thought our bank account was the only one that hadn’t received the memo about the economy turning around…but apparently not; fundraising was tough this year.  Understandably so, but tough nonetheless.

In a last ditch attempt to get closer to the fundraising goal I’d set for myself, I began offering baked goods in exchange for donations.  My father-in-law, bless his soul, was the first to fall prey and only asked for a cheesecake in exchange.

An online friend passed on this recipe several years ago.  It’s since become my favorite.

It’s fairly dense.  It’s creamy.  And it’s incredibly easy.

I halved the recipe for my father-in-law’s cheesecake since I was going to make him a 4″ individual one.  Since the normal recipe makes two full 8″ or 9″ cheesecakes, I knew there would be plenty left and decided I’d try to recreate the top tier of Mr. S’s and my wedding cake.  (This also happened to be the week we celebrated our wedding anniversary, so it seemed like a good idea.)

The cheesecake proved too heavy and thick for layering with cake… it completely annihilated the bottom cake layer; the weight of the layers split the bottom layer and it bulged out the sides.

While wildly spreading frosting onto the cake as quickly as I could, only to wipe it off the plate and back up the sides of the cake from whence it just fell, I realized I had two options: Make the best of it, and hope to hell it at least tasted good, or lose what remained of my composure and let the crooked cake, gooey frosting, and smooshed bottom layer get the best of me as it frequently has in the past.

Humor is the great thing, the saving thing.  The minute it crops up, all our irritation and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.

–Mark Twain

Humor won out…I didn’t want the cake to ruin my vacation, or my anniversary.  And I must’ve looked hilarious, frantically swiping cream cheese frosting onto a cake, only for it to slide right back down the moment I turned the plate.  I must’ve frosted the same spot a handful of times.

So I added skewers to hold the cake semi-upright, stuck it in the freezer briefly, and then threw it together again.

And you know what?  Best damn wedding cake, bar none.  And I loved the cake we had at the wedding.  But my mish-mash, falling-apart cake was imperfectly perfect.

In fact, more than perfect since it was made for our anniversary and was exactly how marriage has been:  It’s not always pretty, it often takes several shots to get something to work, and rarely does it work the way you’d planned.  At the end of the day, however, if you can keep some humor about it all and focus on what really matters (in this case, the yummy cheesecake & incredibly moist carrot cake), it’s all good.

Happy anniversary, Mr. S!

Cheesecake

  • 24 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 T. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Graham Cracker Crust, prepared (I used this as a guide)

(This was the first time I’d used a water bath.  My friend never mentioned it using one, but upon reading this Allrecipes.com article, I realized I wanted to… my cheesecakes had always cracked or browned a little previously, and the water bath seemed the way to go!  Of course, if you don’t want to use one and don’t mind a possible crack or a little browning, go for it!)

If using a springform pan, tightly wrap a few sheets of aluminum foil around the exterior.  You will also need a pan larger than what you’re baking the cheesecake in, so get that out and ensure your cheesecake pan fits in it with room to spare.

Preheat oven to 325°. 

Cream together cream cheese and sugar.  Blend in vanilla before adding egg and continue blending just until smooth and completely mixed – try not to overmix!  (I have folded chocolate chips into the batter at this point, but didn’t this time.  The whole point is to keep the mixture as smooth as possible before the eggs are added, then mix as little as possible while also making sure the eggs are blended entirely after adding them in.)

Pour cheesecake into prepared graham cracker crust.  Place cheesecake pan into larger pan for the waterbath; add warm to hot water to the larger pan (you want the water to be about halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.)  Bake for about an hour, or until the edges look done, but the center is a bit unset.  (It should jiggle a little when you shake it, but the top shouldn’t be completely jiggly.  It’ll keep cooking after you turn the oven off.)

Turn the oven off, removing the cheesecake after 15 minutes.

Let cheesecake cool completely (preferably overnight in the refrigerator) before removing from pan or serving. 

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