I think it is amazing that I survived childhood and adolescence without getting involved in sex, drugs, or rock n' roll. (Okay some rock n' roll but no sex or drugs.) It's mind boggling because basically, I am a wimp. Peer pressure, peer disapproval, peer requests - I can't say no. As my friend HKL says, I'm all talk but but no action. I just shrivel up and wither inside and do what I'm told to do. I have no backbone, no resolve, no nothing. I can't say no. Now, this is different from saying no to my children, which I have NO problem doing, but what I am describing and talking about here is peer pressure.
The other week, at church, Friend's husband pulled me aside and said, "How come you don't make cheesecake?"
"I don't make cheesecake. Cheesecake requires a different pan. I don't have that pan, I don't want to buy that pan so I'm not making cheesecake," I responded adamantly.
"You should make cheesecake. Cheesecake is my favorite. Make cheesecake," he intoned dramatically, as if trying to hypnotize me.
"I'm not making cheesecake. I don't want to buy a different pan. Forget about it," and I walked away hurriedly, lest I succumb to his demands. Because truly, I did not want to buy a springform pan. My baking utensils cupboard is awkwardly located and already bursting at the seams with other baking pans; to add another pan seemed just unnecessary.
I came home after church and in the quiet of the night, I heard his voice, "Make cheesecake" over and over in my head. I tried hard to block it out; I covered my ears, closed my eyes, and hummed wildly to myself, but who can silence the voice that is inside your brain? Before I cut off my head in order to silence the words, I decided to look. I mean, what harm could it do? I could look for a cheesecake recipe, and instead of buying a pan, I could make one in a pan that I already had! That way, I'm not really succumbing to the peer pressure. Rather, I'm doing it on my own terms. Cheesecake MY WAY. In MY PAN. Not a new one.
I found one recipe that had promise, Tyler Florence's Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars only it required me to buy another pan. Rather than do that, I adjusted the recipe to make it work for the pan that I had. I also made some changes based on things that I had and had to go at the recipe two times. The first time, while the cheesecake was delicious, it was lacking a certain amount of structural integrity as it was too airy and you could not eat it without it disintegrating before it got into your mouth. The second round was structurally sound, delicious in flavor and simple to make. Cheesecake, as it turns out, is surprisingly easy to make, especially if you don't have to deal with a hot water bath.
Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
adapted from Tyler Florence
Butter, for greasing
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
13 graham crackers
7 tablespoons of butter, melted
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (MAKE SURE it is room temperature so you can have a creamy cheesecake.)
1/2 cup sugar
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 cups fresh blueberries
Making the crust:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the sugar, ginger and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Alternatively, you can put sugar, ginger, and graham crackers into a ziploc bag and crush until you have fine crumbs. Pour into a bowl and add the melted butter and stir to mix.
Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass.
Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.
Making the filling:
With the mixer on low, beat together sugar and cream cheese. Add eggs one at a time. Add lemon zest and juice. Beat on low. You want a smooth consistency, but do not beat on high, otherwise you will put too much air into the mixture and make it too soft. Pour cheesecake mixture over the crust.
Then cover with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed -- as the cake bakes they will sink a little more and break down.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 16 rectangular bars.
Can I offer you a piece? Come on, you know you want some!