Apparently, my husband talks about me at work.
I know this because he tells me. And somehow, he manages to mostly tell them only good stuff, as far as I know, which is pretty awesome. He has repeated conversations to me during the course of which he revealed his understanding of charger plates in dining table setting; another conversation, he told someone who asked about my career that I’m currently a “wonderful stay-at-home mom to our son.” And most often, it seems, he talks about my recipes.
In fact, he talks about my recipes so much that he came home with a request last week for my cheesecake recipes. When I asked which ones he wanted, he replied, “oh, I don’t know…all of them?”
Let me be clear: I adore cheesecake. Ok, I adore all desserts, but cheesecake ranks in the top five of my favorite varieties. And because of my love of cheesecake, I try to bake them myself as often as possible. My traditional contribution to Thanksgiving with Ryan’s family is a cheesecake, and every year I present a new flavor. I love to experiment.
The problem is that I’m terrible at them. They always taste ok. In fact, most often, they taste pretty darn good. Just sayin’. Unfortunately, though, they don’t always come out of the oven looking as amazing as they taste. I have, in the last seven years, produced only one that didn’t have a crack down the middle. Of course, that recipe required garnish that covered that amazing accomplishment, but I patted myself heavily on the back for the way it looked coming out of the oven.
I’ve tried letting them come down to room temperature gradually by turning off the oven heat and letting them inside. I’ve tried to not overbeat the eggs. So far, nothing has worked. However, I just found this website that has some amazing insider tricks, so it may be time to try again. There’s an Oreo cookie cheesecake in one of my Taste of Home cookbooks that I’ve been dying to attempt.
My first stab at cheesecake actually started with Ryan. He came home from work one day seven or eight years ago with a recipe printed on a piece of paper and asked if I could make it for him. At the time, he was not much of a dessert eater, but he said this one sounded particularly appetizing. We made. We enjoyed. Wash, rinse, repeat. Pumpkin swirl cheesecake is still on our list of favorites.
After I made that one, it sort of turned into a game to see what else I could pull off. The next Thanksgiving, I brought a red velvet cheesecake to dinner. This might be one of my personal favorites, because I’m a red velvet fanatic, and this is an incredibly rich and decadent cheesecake.
Having done a fair job with these, Ryan requested a New York-style cheesecake as a random mid-week dessert one summer. I decided that Mr. Emeril Lagasse was probably a pretty good chef to consult, so we tried New York-style cheesecake with a fruit topping. If I remember correctly, blackberries and raspberries were in season at the time so I used Emeril’s sauce recipes as a guide to cook the berries down with some liquor and sugar, then poured over the cheesecake slice-by-slice before serving (for those who aren’t huge fans of fruit).
The following year, we tried caramel-peanut butter swirl cheesecake. This one has become one of Ryan’s favorites with its combination of sweet and salty flavors. I make it my own by substituting the store-bought caramel sauce with my homemade salted caramel sauce, then omit the salt called for in the cheesecake recipe.
Two years ago, we sampled caramel apple brownie cheesecake. The name is deceiving, because there’s no chocolate in it. The crust is more “blondie” than “brownie,” but it’s one of those recipes that just sings “fall.”
Last spring, when entertaining friends of ours, we tried Hershey’s Special Dark truffle brownie cheesecake. This, my friends, is every bit as sinful as it sounds…and then some. It may be one of the richest desserts I’ve ever made or tasted but it’s enough to make any bad day go away. We made it again for New Year’s Eve this year, and it was a pretty big hit.
This past Thanksgiving, I found yet another sweet’n’salty combo to tickle Ryan’s palate: Cinderella cheesecake. With a (chocolate) brownie crust, then more chocolate, and lots of peanut butter, this one became an instant winner as well.
I’m excited for my list to grow to include many more of these recipes. Right now, I’m craving something lighter to break out of comfort food mode. Maybe a little fruity like berry or lemon…or something completely off-the-wall like lavender- which I’ve never eaten before, but because everything in my head is purple right now, it looks like it would taste like a fresh spring day.