16 February 2009

The Birthday Cheesecakes

Friday night I received a rare and wonderful gift...a night at home alone. Not that I don't adore spending time with my honey at home, but I pretty much never get the house to myself. Since I had some serious baking work to do, I offered a suggestion to Shawn that he go out. And he did. Nice boy. I threw on my apron, my music, and got to work.

My friend Michael once told me this nice story of how his mom (who has passed on now) used to make and send him a cheesecake every year for his birthday when he was in college. I thought it was such a sweet tradition that I decided I would take it over. However, I've been a slacker. I made one once a few years ago and haven't since. I also make a birthday cheesecake for our friend, Aric, who is one of Shawn's best friends from childhood that now lives here in P-town. Being from NY, he is very picky about his cheesecake. I consider it a major compliment that he lusts for my cheesecake so. Michael's birthday was on Saturday, and I still owed Aric his treat from December, so I thought I'd just get them both out of the way in one night.

I decided to try out the Test Kitchen Baking Book's version of NY cheesecake. I've tried a variety of recipes from the Internet. While they have all turned out just fine, it was time to settle on one. It was quite interesting, amongst the chaotic Valentine-gift/card buying to be buying 5 lbs. of cream cheese--probably not what the cashier was expecting the evening before the big holiday. I went home, ate dinner, watched a little tv with Shawn, and then sent him on his way.

I probably should have looked a little more carefully at the recipe. Being a very dry, dense cheesecake, this recipe called for a very low heat, slow cooking time. I started at 8pm. Already my first oops. My next issue was that my mixer couldn't handle all 5 lbs of cream cheese at once, but I had already combined the 12 eggs and 4 egg yolks into one container. This only proved to be a problem when I got to the second cheesecake and discovered that, despite my best efforts to separate out 6 eggs and 2 yolks, I had fallen a little short on whites in cheesecake #1.

Mixing the first batch of cheesecake:

Cheesecake #1 (plain NY) for Aric, prebake:Cheesecake #2 (marbled) for Michael:
Cheesecake #1 finished:
I haven't gotten the reports back yet, but both recipients seemed very happy when they saw what I had made. Shawn tried his best to get me to cut a piece for him, but no luck. I had already delayed them for months, even years, so I figured I probably needed to give them whole cheesecakes.

Oh, and I finally did something besides bake bread! Although I did make cream biscuits last night.

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