Note: Imported from my original blog, “Whereverthere: 3 friends, 1 blog.” Thanks to Charity Shumway and Erika Edwards for sharing these memories with me!
Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it: Make Tyler Florence’s Goat Cheese Cake with Strawberries and Fresh Basil.
Sound good? Click here for the recipe.
To help you on your way Erika, Kristin and Charity chronicle their attempts in ten easy steps.
1. Erika: Agree to make goat cheesecake in tandem with your co-bloggers. Think this is probably a bad idea, but say yes anyway.
Kristin: As busy as I am I almost begged off but for the love of blog and cheesecake I took the challenge! Glad I did, I needed a farm break.
Charity: Say yes to this fun activity, while secretly changing the words in your head from “fun activity” to “competition.” You’re in it to win it.
2. Erika: Wait until the last minute the night before you are hosting a big birthday party at your house to casually look over the recipe. Note that you have neither a roasting pan nor a springform pan.
Charity: Ditto, except yours isn’t a birthday party, it’s a Memorial Day barbecue to which you’ve invited the entire tri-state area (in it to win it!) What’s that you say? Goat cheese cheesecake seems a bit pretentious for a hamburger party? Pish posh.
3. Erika: Use this opportunity as an excuse to run out and buy a very expensive roasting pan (because you suddenly realize that this is precisely the one thing missing in your life) and a very cheap springform pan (because you are pretty sure you are never going to use that thing again).
Kristin: How can you not have a springform? I have 3–they have so many awesome uses!! You will be glad you have one. I don’t have a roasting pan, so I improvised.
Charity: Yeah, I didn’t have a springform pan either, and of course decided that two hours before the guests arrived was the right time to take the subway into Manhattan and visit Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I failed to read the directions closely enough to realize I’d need a roasting pan, which I don’t have either.
4. Erika: Wake up early the next morning and try and take some artistic photos of the ingredients (and your brand new, tri-ply stainless steel, overpriced roasting pan!).
Kristin: My ingredients look about the same, except the eggs….
Charity: Mine looked about the same too, with the very notable exception of sour cream. Oops. We’ll get to that.
5. Erika: Roll your eyes when you see they have given you the measurements for the Graham crackers in ounces. Seriously? Get out calculator and figure out that 10 ounces is more or less 19 Graham Crackers. Kristin: Or two crackers less than two packages, but who’s counting?
6. Erika: Realize you don’t have a food processor. Try to make Graham cracker crumbs in the blender. Spray Graham cracker shrapnel into every corner of your kitchen.
Charity: Totally winning at this point, thanks to awesome food processor I married into.
7. Erika: Realize you do have some kind of food processor attachment on your vintage-hand-me-down Bosch mixer, but that you have never used it before. Decide, ‘how hard can it be?’ Curse under your breath as you spray Graham cracker shrapnel all over every corner of your kitchen…again.
Kristin: While Erika is cursing her grahams, I have some little helpers pressing mine into the pan.
Charity: The crust is all set, the oven is preheating, and only then, thirty minutes before guests arrive do you actually read through the ingredients list. Sour cream? When did that sneak its way onto the list? Consider running down the street to the store and arriving home sweaty, but with sour cream in hand, moments before people ring your doorbell. Think the better of it. Turn off the oven. Put the crust in the fridge. Weep a little inside, because now, you’re losing. Slap some ice cream between ginger cookies and call it a day.
8. Erika: Start the filling and realize it calls for ONE PINT of sour cream. Are you kidding me? Has Tyler Florence never heard of a cup? How much is a pint, anyway? Google it and discover that a pint is 16 freaking ounces. Realize you have a fraction of that. Panic. Throw in another four ounces of cream cheese and hope for the best.
Charity: Or just decide the 8 oz. container of sour cream you eventually bought will have to do because you can’t be bothered to go back to the store for another 8 ounces. Who knew a pint was 16 ounces?
9. Kristin: I love the water bath technique, but I always end up getting some water in the cake. It seeps in while baking and soggies the edge of my crust. Anyone out there have any tips? They should make waterproof springforms…or I could just use an entire box of foil.
Charity: Oh, man, here’s where I get my comeuppance. Finally, yesterday, when I got around to making my cake, I wrapped the springform poorly, so it wasn’t just that the edges of the crust got a little moist. Water seeped in all over, and the crust was pretty much goo.
10. Erika: Start on the topping. Realize you have no Grand Marnier in your liquor cabinet. Remember that you are a Mormon and don’t have a liquor cabinet. Panic. Google it and find out that it is an orange liquer. Pick recently discarded orange peel out of the garbage and rinse it off. Zest it and mix with two ounces of random Peach Mango juice from your fridge. Hope for the best.
Kristin: I was tempted to pick up the Grand Marnier, but the kids are out of school and the prospect of dragging all 4 into the state liquor store stopped me cold… for the store’s sake! So I skipped it. I fancied how the topping looked as it simmered–all red and sparkly–so much that I stared, mesmerized, and watched until it super-thickened and turned to gel. Oops. I need to look into getting cable.
Kristin: I held my breath as I pulled the cake out of the oven. I was immediately impressed, it didn’t crack or brown in spots (both banes of cheesecake making!) and a little alarmed by how yellow it was. I think it got even brighter as it baked– those eggs were potent! Because it had a custardy texture after setting, I used my favorite serving tip for cheesecakes: slice it with floss. Works like a charm!
Erika: I have no idea how a cheesecake is supposed to look coming out of the oven, but I thought mine looked pretty good. Also, nice floss technique, but how on earth did you get it to go through the crust? My crust was like 3/4 of an inch thick and most definitely not gooey.
Charity: My question is how did you ladies keep your syrup so tidy? I poured mine gently on top, and it turned into this:
Charity’s Final Verdict: Greg got home last night and saw the cake and made the face you would make if a person walked up to you and said “Would you mind putting your hand on my neck? My aorta is spraying everywhere and needs some gentle pressure!” Like, eeeeyyaaaww, what is that? He took one bite to be nice. And that was it. I took two bites to prove a point, and realized that along with using only half the recommended amount of sour cream, I had also forgotten to put in the sugar. Maybe that’s what you get when you turn a nice cheesecake into a fight for culinary domination?
Kristin’s Final Verdict: I am a cheesecake enthusiast. It is my favorite dessert genre. I loved the new twist here, the strawberry and basil were awesome compadres and the goat cheese added a little tang. My kids loved it (of course, they eat worms, so that is discrediting.) I will definitely use the combo of those ingredients again, but probably morph it with another recipe. I am a fan of the New York style, a little firmer and taller (ah Charity, another sign I need to visit!). This was a fun recipe and a great excuse to get cookin’ with my girls!
Erika’s Final Verdict: Cheesecake is generally one of those things I prefer that other people make for me, but this recipe changed all that. I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty complicated. But honestly, it was worth it. When I make it again (which will be very, very soon I am sure), I will try for a thinner crust and the correct amount of sour cream. And as always, I will assume disaster but hope for the best.