Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spackle the walls with Philly

Once upon a time, I decided I would make a cheesecake.

My mother is the Queen of Cheesecakes; she could easily open up a business with her decadent desserts that come in all manner of succulent flavours: citrus, peanut-butter-chocolate, blueberry-lemon, pumpkin spice. Her flair with a springform pan is unparalleled, her Martha-ness unmatched when it comes to elegant presentation. She has baked for the Horticultural Society, the Legion, the church bake sale, and for any number of birthdays, anniversaries and Friday nights.

So I must have some of those baking genes in me somewhere, right?

Having never made a cheesecake before, I decided my first attempt would be for guests, of course: a gaggle of grrrl-friends from work who were coming over for dinner that night. The recipe was simple, one of those ridiculously easy, only-a-complete-moron-could-screw-this-up, three steps and you’re done, no-bake deelies from a Kraft magazine.

Except it’s me who’s making it, not Mom. And we all know how I’ve killed KD on more than one occasion.

I lay out all my ingredients, do my measuring and prep work in advance, read through the recipe at least three dozen times to make sure I’ve got it straight, just like Mom taught me to. And then I begin.

First, I examine the pre-formed graham cracker crust in foil pie plate and decide I want the crust to be bigger than that. I empty the contents into a larger pie plate. I now have graham cracker dust.

I figure a little water will help glue it back together. I now have wet graham cracker dust. Not to be trounced by a mere plate of cookie remains, I crank up the oven and bake the crust for half an hour, thinking the combination of heat and water will stick it all back together. Now I have warm, wet graham cracker dust.

I give up on the crust and start in on the filling.

Two honking huge bricks of Philly cream cheese and a cup of peanut butter later, my arms are breaking off from the stirring. The spoon is standing upright, immobile, in this bowl of concrete I have made. I stick our hand mixer in, forgetting that this little machine is possessed by Satan, a thought that pops back into my consciousness just as it spontaneously turns on and splatters cream-cheese spackle all over my cupboards.

I give up on the filling and work on the toppings.

Crushed peanuts and walnuts, with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate. Sounds marvy. I couldn’t find nuts pre-crushed so I bought them whole. Without thinking, I grab the mallet and start smashing the closed bag on the counter. It explodes in a welt-inducing flurry of peanut bits; I desperately dodge the shrapnel as it embeds in the cream-cheese spackle on the cupboards.

So now I’ve got warm, wet cookie dust; a spackle-cheese encrusted kitchen, bits of peanut everywhere and … shit, I forgot all about the chocolate.

In the end, regardless of how unsightly it was, the chunk of sidewalk that emerged from the fridge was positively sinful in its deliciousness, and the folly of how it came to be was the highlight of the evening. Just don’t ask me to make a cheesecake EVER AGAIN.

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