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Cheesecake Baking Day

Really, I should be taking pictures of all this. After all, pictures make stories more interesting, and there’s been some funny situations today. It’s time like this when I am most grateful James and I run our own law firm. It allows me to stay in our home office and handle the paperwork, phone calls, legal writing, and so forth as well as the copywriting business, the tutoring, and fiction writing. But more importantly, it lets me make cheesecakes for the WCCC Valentine’s Day Dinner.

Last year, I made 16 cheesecakes for the event (a few more when you add in the ones that didn’t make it). We’re doing the same four flavors (white chocolate, chocolate truffle, salted caramel, and Lindy) this year, and I’ve got a few more cheesecakes to make because we’ve added a third seating. (And if you’re in the area, sign up! It’s going to be an amazing night. Tiffany is making lasagna, and I’m making cheesecake. Both are from scratch.) This year I’m making at least 20 cheesecakes, maybe 24 if there’s enough ingredients. When the Valentine’s Day dinner weekend completes, we sell the cheesecakes off by the slice.

The wonderful thing though is that I have not had one cheesecake turn out badly this round through. Last year, about five cheesecakes were ruined. Two just didn’t turn out right. One was disfigured, and so we shared it with the youth staff as a sample. And two others turned out to be kitty snacks as all four cats broke into the back porch and chowed down on salted caramel and Lindy cheesecakes. Obviously, I was not a happy pet owner.

But this year the back porch is more secure. The temperature and the atmosphere are perfect for creamy cheesecakes. Plus using the name brand ingredients actually makes a difference. I have always used generic cream cheese because that’s what was most affordable. But this time we went to Sam’s Club to pick up our ingredients. They only sold Philadelphia cream cheese in bulk, and the bulk per pound price was significantly cheaper than the generic brand. I can’t remember how much exactly, but it was at least 40 cents cheaper a pack. Now, of course, I have to measure out and cut off how much cream cheese I need. It isn’t quite as convenient as the ready sealed packets. But it’s worth it for the savings. And oh! The batter is so much smoother. The cheesecakes set up better, and I taste the difference. I did a blind sample with James, and he was able to tell the difference as well.

I suspect that the Lindy cheesecake may have the clearest distinction in flavor because it has such a clean and crisp flavor to begin with. There’s no white chocolate. No caramel. No milk chocolate. No dark chocolate. Just cream cheese, sugar, and some lemon juice. Now, for clarification’s sake, it’s not that cheesecakes made with the generic cream cheese aren’t tasty. But I do think that the name brand has the edge.

So today has been good. Four cheesecakes are done. A fifth is in the oven. I also came up with a solution for the extra batter in the bowl. I learned the hard way that mixing two batter sets really doesn’t blend as well. Flavors work just fine, but it creates a gumpier batter. And for a nice romantic dinner, we want to avoid that look. But I can’t bring myself to waste it. So what I decided to do was make mini cheesecakes in muffin tins. I made about a dozen from the leftovers from today alone. They aren’t as pretty as the full cheesecakes, and I need to tweak the baking time. They’re more of a pain to make too, but it’s worth it to avoid wasting the delicious batter.

I’m debating staying up later tonight to finish off a few more cheesecakes. The weather changes again tomorrow, and I have no idea how well it’s going to work tomorrow. Still…I’ll need to sleep sometime. As far as writing going, I haven’t gotten as much done today as I would like. I’m still working on the tax paperwork, invoicing, and a couple legal briefs. Fortunately, there was no copywriting today and only one essay to grade. As far as the fiction writing, I’m wrapping up another chapter for Ragnarok Undone. I also finished putting together some more sections for Little Scapegoat. Slain Expectations got a little more. So it’s a bit shy from what I would like, coming in just over 6,000 new words for my fiction platform projects. And I probably should clean the kitchen again before I go to bed. If only sleep wasn’t necessary.

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