Posts tagged ‘cheesecake’

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Red Velvet Cheesecake Red Velvet cake, a layer of cheesecake, and cream cheese frosting.

August makes me think of peach skin against my lips, of yellowing grass, and inevitably of the coming school year.

I remember exactly where I was last August – the kitchen. There were only a few weeks before I moved to Boston for college, and I went into a baking frenzy. In the mornings, I preheated the oven before I brushed my teeth, and I photographed enough desserts to keep the blog alive across the country.

This summer, though, I haven’t spent much time baking. I don’t leaf through cookbooks when I’m bored or brainstorm flavor combinations in the car. I’ve lost something I can’t place. Whenever I think about it, unease seeps through me like melting ice. I don’t know why I’ve fallen into a baking rut or how to fix it.

Red Velvet Cheesecake

A year ago, I remember standing with my dad in the kitchen. I’d spent the week baking, and I handed him fork after fork of desserts to sample. He’d just tried the Oat, Pear, and Raspberry Loaf when he said, “You’re really going to do this. Keep the blog going.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant. I hadn’t even considered ending the blog, giving up on the baking, moving on with life as I moved into college. “Yeah.”

He shrugged a little and said, “You never know. After a while, you might not want to be 17 and Baking anymore. You might lose interest.”

“Never going to happen.” I wrapped up the loaf, started on the dishes, and the conversation faded from memory.

Now I can’t get it out of my mind.

Red Velvet Cheesecake

I didn’t spend as much time with my parents this summer as I expected, or as I would have liked. I think the ritual of family dinners would have helped me rediscover that “feeling.” I think tossing ideas back and forth with my dad would have inspired me. Now, it’s too late. Here I am a year later, nine days from my flight, with almost nothing saved up.

This semester I’m going to Europe, where baking opportunities will be even scarcer than they were in Boston. I’m so afraid. I didn’t realize it until I typed the words a moment ago, and now it’s more real than ever. I’m afraid of wasting the opportunities I’ve been given. I’m scared of failing. I’m scared that I have burnt out, and that I can’t recover.

But I am more than my insecurities. I know that when I put my mind to something, I can make it happen. I have the strength to pull through baking ruts, to breathe life into my writing, and to conquer fear. I’m afraid, but I’m also more passionate and determined than ever.

Red Velvet Cheesecake

D- is a new friend, but already a good one, and his first visit to Seattle is wrapping up in a few days. I wanted to make something really special to celebrate his 19th birthday and last night in the Emerald City.

This week I rediscovered the process of finding The One. You know, The Recipe that is everything Your Friend would want, their sweet tooth soulmate. I remembered that his favorite cake is red velvet, but his favorite dessert is cheesecake. I immediately wanted to combine them. I’d seen red velvets split by cheesecake on several other sites, but that didn’t make it less special.

The excitement mounted as I bought ingredients at the store, while I creamed butter, when I scattered sprinkles across the frosting. But everything became clear when I eased the first slice onto a plate and passed it to D-, drank in his expression of surprise and joy.

The thrill! It lit me up like a sparkler – burning slowly, but unbelievably brightly. I almost forgot that feeling, but now, all I want to do is relive it. I’m an addict.

Red Velvet Cheesecake

The cream cheese frosting is thick, tangy, and sweet, just like I like it. The cheesecake is dense and creamy. But the star is the red velvet. Heartbreakingly red, soft as satin, fine-crumbed and fluffy… As I watched him scrape the fork across the plate, I couldn’t wait to come home and share the recipe with you.

I never lost the passion. I just had to stop taking it for granted.

I’ll probably be on the east coast when the next post is up – thanks for staying with me. See you on the other side.

[Too hot to bake? Check out my Chocolate Raspberry Icebox Cake in the Boston Globe! It's a heat free, ridiculously easy recipe that comes together in half an hour.]

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August 11, 2011 at 6:07 pm 121 comments

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake with Coconut, Lemongrass, and Kaffir Lime – 17 and Baking does Daring Bakers

Dear Daring Bakers,

I love you. Seriously. Each and every one of you, from the very bottom of my heart. I’ve watched you grow, the blogroll getting longer and longer each month, and I’ve savored the challenges, looking at every elegant photograph and memorable post with admiration and just a touch of envy.

In complete honesty, Daring Bakers, you were out of my league. Perhaps I could make a food blog, but never could I make the same desserts as you – challenging, beautiful, time consuming, potentially expensive – it was not in the cards for an amateur 17 year old who fancied herself a foodie.

Lucky for me, Daring Bakers are the warmest, friendliest bakers around. I still can’t quite believe that I am a Daring Baker now, and that I’ve finished my first challenge. Actually, this might be a daydream. I could potentially be in 5th period English. Don’t wake me up.

Love, love, love

Elissa

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

After recovering from the wild crazy joy that was being accepted into the Daring Bakers, I went absolutely insane waiting for the April challenge to be announced. I won’t lie – I felt scared that it would be a fancy French pastry that I would completely defile, and that would be the end of it. But I’d made cheesecake twice before – plain cheesecake – and was eager to try more exotic flavors and see how this recipe compared with mine.

I must have played with a dozen different ideas. A spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate cheesecake, green tea and white chocolate, blood orange and champagne, even basil. When I brainstormed aloud about coconut to my parents, my dad said “Thai.” And it all came together.

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake with Coconut, Lemongrass, and Kaffir Lime.

And yeah, that tiny bite is what’s left of the slice from the picture before.

I actually stopped the photoshoot to eat the cake I was photographing. Then I guiltily set down the plate and picked up the camera.

This cheesecake is just that good.

[8/4/10 Update - I made this cheesecake for the Seattle talk show New Day Northwest! Watch me make the cheesecake on TV here.]

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April 27, 2009 at 12:00 am 130 comments


Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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