Today. Today was the day of our housewarming party. I had made the blondies, and prepared the pitcher of water with fresh lemon and basil for the guests who didn’t drink, and assembled all of the ingredients for my homemade pesto (I think that merits its own post entirely) on the countertop.
Of course, there was one thing missing. Here it was August, and my husband, Andy, had celebrated his birthday in January. I kept promising that I was going to make him a cake, and then it was the summer, and so I said it would be a cake in honor of his half birthday. Naturally, July was the busiest month of our entire (nine month) marriage. And so, it came to be that I was making a birthday cheesecake, my very first mind you, on the day of our housewarming party.
I scoured my bookmarked food sites to see if I could find a recipe that would be relatively easy for this cheesecake virgin, while simultaneously peppering my sister, Sue, with questions (since, as far as I can tell, she has made 100 or more varieties of every cake, bar, cookie and pie known to man). Since it was, as usual, a hot and humid day and I had had less-than-desirable results with my new-old oven, I decided on a no-bake variety: just cream cheese, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla extract, heavy cream, and a bit of cinnamon (my favorite spice! It makes everything taste sweeter!).
We both knew I was a bit out of luck in the appliances department. Compared to Sue, I have a bit of a minimalist kitchen, which is to say that I do not own an electric mixer (or an immersion blender. Or an egg beater. Or a food processor! What? And here I am, blogging about food!) So it’s possible that I complained while trying to soften two sticks of hard cream cheese with just a wooden spoon and my out-of-shape arm muscles, but I pushed through with thoughts of the finished product (plus some forced optimism).
Next, I decided to stray from the recipe slightly by adding some fresh strawberry juice, a task which then morphed into just smushing up strawberries and mixing them in. Why not throw in a little something extra?
And then, it was time to transfer the batter into the pie pan:
The clock was ticking, and I knew the cheesecake needed a few hours in the refrigerator in order to properly set, so I put on the finishing touches and hoped for the best.
I presented my masterpiece to Andy during the party, well into the evening. Unfortunately there are no shots of individual slices, because…well, they just weren’t very photogenic. Somehow there wasn’t much firmness to the whole thing, but everyone who ate it was full of praise, so either our friends are too nice, or I made my first halfway decent (mushy) cheesecake!*
The recipe I used was adapted from here. Next time, I’ll definitely attempt a genuine, baked cheesecake.
The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a ‘What the hell?’ attitude. -Julia Child