Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lessons from a Cheesecake

A word of caution:

I fear that tonight's entry might get a little...(wait for it...) cheesy. :)

Every year for my birthday, I make myself a cheesecake. I'm not too big on desserts, but cheesecake is my one indulgence. Four out of five people surveyed agree with me that cheesecake is "da bomb-diggity."

Tonight as I began to bake, a little lightbulb went off in my mind. From the laundy list of New Year's resolutions I shared with you, one of them was that I wanted to enter the BHG Prize Winning Recipe Contests. This month, one of the categories was "banana desserts."

Yes, hello...two birds? I'd like you to meet my one stone :)

I decided that I wanted to try to create a "banana split cheesecake" for my birthday dessert to enter into the contest. Broken down, that means that I was going to add a ripened banana to the cheesecake batter, marble it with semi-sweet chocolate, and top it with a warm cherry sauce and whipped cream when it's ready to serve. (Yep, I know. It sure sounded perdy darn good in my head too!)

Little did I know my "bright idea" was going to prove to be rather dim-witted.

As I went about my business in the kitchen, I realized that I didn't have any ripened bananas to add to my batter. I didn't even have a yellow banana to add to my batter... I just had about 7 neon green ones. Determined that I wouldn't let this one tiny glitch wreck my entire system, I headed straight for Google.
LESSON 1- You can ripen green bananas in a closed paper bag with a tomato overnight, but if you don't have time, you can also ripen it in the microwave in 10 second intervals---so they say. My banana actually ended up burning on the ends and staying a lovely shade of bright green in the center. (I seriously may consider recreating it as "Monster Fingers" next Halloween.) Anyway...moving along.

So I didn't have a ripened banana. No worries. I would just do the extra legwork to mash my partially-cooked banana to a pulp before blending it into half of my batter and I'd move along my merry way. I'm feeling unstoppable! Now I just need to melt the semi-sweet chocolate to add to the other half of the batter I'd use for the marbling.
LESSON 2- I need to wait a minimum of 10 minutes before I attempt to melt chocolate in the microwave after it has endured about 12 rounds of 10 second intervals with a banana. My chocolate chips didn't liquify as much as they turned into a softened, brown clump. (mmmmm....appetizing!)

But it still tasted like chocolate and I was just going to beat it into the batter with a mixer anyway, (and I consider it a cardinal sin to throw chocolate in any form into the trash,) so in it went. Now I just needed to "marble" the chocolate layer into the banana layer with a knife.
LESSON 3- I am no good at marbling. My cheesecake looks like a white layer underneath a brown layer with tiny (almost invisible) thin white swirls inside.

LESSON 4- I am a complete goober. I don't own a springform pan. You would think with it being a birthday tradition of mine for x amount of years, I would invest in something other than a pie plate...

LESSON 5- I am too hard on myself. I have been alive almost 26 years now, and I still don't know who the heck it is I am always stressing myself out to impress.

Sad truth: I almost cried a little as I put my birthday cheesecake into the oven because it didn't look exactly like my mind had envisioned it when I concocted this recipe on a whim. And I will tell you right now, I just pulled my cheesecake out of the oven, and there is a thin crack down the middle and a few spots that probably cooked for a little too long.

But every story should have a happy ending, so here's mine.

THE BIG LESSON- I love myself. After I pulled myself together from my near-meltdown, I realized that my cheesecake and I are an awful lot alike.
When my creator came up with the recipe for me in His mind, He too hoped that I would be perfect. But I have cracks. I've been burned. I was meant to be a cheesecake and I keep trying to throw myself into a pie plate. I wasn't patient enough to wait for the right ingredients to be mixed into my life story, so I made do with less-than-perfect alternatives. But in the end, I am still going to be perdy darn good. Whatever imperfections I have are made lovely when covered in God's grace.

And whatever imperfections my cheesecake has will still be lovely covered in cherry sauce and whipped cream.

BHG probably won't dig it, but I certainly will :)

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