Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Birthday cake

It's the Anthropologist's birthday tomorrow, and he's turning the big 3-0. To mark the beginning of a new decade, he has chosen not a fancy dinner or a romantic meal at home — but a pizza buffet that he's been wanting to go to for weeks. This buffet only occurs on Monday and Wednesday nights, and conveniently, his birthday happens to fall on a Wednesday this year. And who am I to complain? I like pizza, and I like not having to spend a whole lot of money on his birthday dinner!

Still, I wanted to do something a little more celebratory for him, so I decided to make him a cake. After being together for over three years, I just recently (as in, last week) learned that the Anthropologist loves blueberries. I thought about making these beautiful cupcakes from a recipe I'd torn out of Bon Appetit a couple years back, with blueberries in the cake and a maple sugar frosting. But when I thought about it — and how much work that was — and how I was going to be getting home late the night before his birthday... it didn't sound like a good option.

So I decided to make him a blueberry cheesecake instead. And rather than doing something over the top and fancy involving springform pans and water baths, I chose the easiest, simplest cheesecake recipe I had: Desperate for Cheesecake, from Cooking for the Clueless, one of my first and most well-used cookbooks. After a post-work discussion group over dinner, I stopped in at Trader Joe's , then went straight home to throw together a graham cracker crust, cheesecake filling, and blueberry swirl. I had walked in the door at 9pm and had the cheesecake in the oven by 9:45. After a little refrigeration (and a note to a certain someone not to eat it!), the cake will be ready for a few candles and a round of "Happy Birthday to You" tomorrow night.

If only every birthday was this simple.

Desperate for Cheesecake with blueberry swirl
(adapted from Cooking for the Clueless by Evelyn Raab)

1-1/3 c graham cracker crumbs (about 10 Trader Joe's graham crackers, crushed)
1/4 c sugar
3 tbsp butter, melted

2 pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix graham cracker crumbs with sugar and butter. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan.

In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Pour into crust.* Bake for 40 minutes (it helps if you put the pan on a cookie sheet for easier removal) — the center will still be soft. Cool and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

*To add a blueberry swirl, put 1 c of thawed blueberries (or fresh, I suppose, but where are going to get fresh blueberries at this time of year?) into a food processor and process until smooth. Add dollops of blueberry puree on top of the cheesecake filling. Use a knife (or in my case, a chopstick) to cut through the cheesecake to create a marbled effect.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Yum, though I prefer strawberries to blueberries in most applications. Fresh cheesecake is usually the only vegetarian option for me, but I'm not one to complain...