Photo by Peggy (Faithy)
The Amateur Baker
There was something about this cheesecake recipe that seemed to inspire mistakes. On the other hand, there was something about the recipe that enabled it to forgive all mistakes and hand everyone a first-rate dessert.
Faithy, for example, ran out of white chocolate, so she substituted some dulce de leche (good thinking, by the way). This wasn't much of a problem. The real fun started when she put her not-quite-done cheesecake in the toaster oven for its cool down. Unfortunately, she forgot to turn off the oven, so she ended up with a burned cheesecake top. No problem, she thought--just tear off the burnt layer and cover with sour cream. But the sour cream turned out to be heavy cream, which liquified on the cake and had to be laboriously siphoned off. Plan B--cover the cheesecake with chocolate ganache--turned out to be a winner, as was the cheesecake itself: "creamy, smooth, and deliciously melt in the mouth."
Rachel also substituted for the white chocolate--not because she ran out of chocolate but because she had a glut of bananas. Banana + chocolate = very tasty. Her cheesecake wobbled alarmingly when she took it out of the oven, and she was afraid the substitution didn't work because the liquid content of bananas is not exactly the same as that of white chocolate. But guess what? The cheesecake turned out to be perfect! She couldn't say the same for the sponge cake, however, which for some mysterious reason turned out to be "leathery" and "burnt on the bottom." Still the cheesecake was "great--super creamy and light-textured."
You've got to hand it to Jen. Her cheesecake "mistake" resulted from her knowing Rose's cheesecake formula by heart. The ratio is always a pound of cream cheese to about a pound and a half of sour cream. So that's what she bought. And then she read the recipe. And decided to "Franken-bake a marble chocolate cheesecake." Also, she did what I didn't have the nerve to do: she spotted the leftover chocolate wafers and made them into a crumb crust for the cheesecake. What happened with the Franken-bake? Well, husband Mark proclaimed it "The Perfect Cheesecake." And we all know how hard it is to improve on perfection.
Nicola's main problem was with the marbling, which she alternately describes as "unattractive brown splodge" and "more mess than marble." (It was her main problem if you don't count being lured back on the sugar wagon by a certain "diabolical" blogger). She had a few other gripes too--such as Americans' stubborn refusal to use the easy and logical metric system, and having to cool the chocolate to just the right temperature, lest it turn into chocolate chips, but all in all, it was a fairly easy project. Although Nicola is sure she's not going to be called up to the Great British Bake Off any time soon, I think she misunderestimates (as a former president probably didn't actually say) the power of the cheesecake.
Catherine's entry into the cheesecake pool ruined the thesis of this roundup because she didn't have any problems at all with her cheesecake, even though her favorite almost-five-year-old refused to help her. (Well, maybe it's because her favorite almost-five-year-old didn't help). There was no chance to mess up the cake base because Catherine adapted the biscuit (cookie) base from the Frozen Lime Meringue Pie instead of the sponge (biscuit) base. Why do English-speakers not speak the same language?! I must say, the high point of Catherine's blog isn't really the cheesecake, although that part is very nice, but it doesn't compare to the pictures of Aunty Catherine and Parker made with stones, and with Aunty Catherine (but not Parker) sporting a stone belly button!
Next week: Giant Jam Cookies. I thought this might be a quick and easy recipe that had somehow missed being placed in that wonderful category. Then I read more: "Be warned. The jam cookie is one of those things that looks simple and elegant, but it takes the skill of a craftsperson to achieve." Uh-oh.
The countdown: It's getting serious now. Only ten weeks left. We may be done before the snow flies!