Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Cheesecake
I have to make something decadent to say goodbye to a city like this one; a city so crowded, and maddening and lovely. A city so colorful, music-filled, relentless, ruined, and resurrected at every turn.
My farewell is a full one. I fell in love here at the same time that I struggled to keep my head above water and struggled to distill my passions into purpose. I cooked in a dozen kitchens and stood for hours on end. Sweaty, lonely, and totally inspired. I started another degree then suddenly decided to just go ahead and educate myself, instead. I couldn’t be more excited or ready for my next adventure, though I feel all the tugs and aches of having to say goodbye to such wonderful friends. It is true that people make the place. My joy is increased by getting to travel forward with some of that life-changing love - a crew with which to share the spoils and toils of our earthly kitchens. I hope I have left some of that love behind as well, in gratitude's wordless wake.
One of the most important things that I have learned in New York is that you have to be true to the way you want to live, and if that means not living in New York, then adventure elsewhere! Having to start over somewhere else should never keep you from following your hunger. Life is about starting over everyday and “from scratch” doesn’t mean “from nothing”, it means beginning again with every beautiful, random, useful bit of wonder your days and dream- drunk nights have accumulated. New York has taken away my fear of most things, despite (or because) it has scared me out of my boots plenty of times. New York ran my game, my claim, and my best defence right out of me. In doing so it helped me to confront going home to myself, a journey whose importance I can no longer ignore. When you do that, you really can “make it anywhere”.
Isn’t it funny that right before you depart a place it becomes more dear to you, even more clear. With your soon-to-be travelers coolness you can step back a moment from the surviving, the troubled curiosity of how you might maintain this routine, and look at the crush with the peaceful cream pot eyes of a wandering Buddha- to- be. New York has been another tree under which to sit and contemplate life. The children screaming harmlessly at each other outside your house are suddenly your children, have always been your children. You know the textures of your favorite places will greet you suddenly while walking down a similar street somewhere, and flirt with you over a mesmeric dawn. Sitting on your steps in a hazy twilight as your neighbor’s enjoy their backyard birthday mariachi band, you finally understand this city, and with a sly and exacting power she will make you feel completely at home. Finally your realize that this is not the finale, as your open your heart for an endless encore. Next up, Sydney Australia. This draws me to one natural conclusion; cheesecake.
A super soft, buttery cherry cheesecake. And a backyard BBQ to bring it all home. This cheesecake was inspired by my favorite Manhattan cocktail, topped with the most delicious maraschino cherries that have ever been swaddled in irresistible liqueur. This creamy and complex cake has a Teddy Gram ( little bears!) and roasted peanut crust. It's like dessert walked into the fanciest bar in Manhattan and left a legend.
Split between friends after an al fresco dinner of fried fish, grilled corn on the cob, chorizo and gouda pasta salad, and some classic burgers, this cheesecake made a magical night even more so. I know that using Luxardo cherries in this way might be irreverent, lavish even, but this is a farewell party! It's hard to say goodbye, but I know we will see each other soon, and eat another meal, and cook up some more dreams. For now, let's split another slice.
Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Cheesecake
Crust: 1 cup Honey Teddy Grams 1 cup roasted and salted peanuts 1 stick butter, melted pinch of salt to taste
Cheesecake: 2 packages cream cheese (8 oz. each) 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt 1/2 cup melted ice cream ( I used Tahitian vanilla bean) 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 cup syrup from Luxardo Maraschino Cherries 3-4 cherries
Whipped Topping: 2 cups heavy cream 1 drop red food dye Chopped and Whole Cherries and juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Greece the bottom and sides of a springform pan and cover with two layers of tin foil. Fill a rimmed baking sheet with 1/2 inch of water and place in oven. In a food processor blend teddy grams and roasted peanuts to a fine crumb. Add a pinch of salt and the melted butter. Blend until the mixture comes together and you can't resist eating it. Press the crumb crust to the bottom and a little way up the sides of the pan.
In a large mixing bowl add the cream cheese and greek yogurt and mix until smooth and combined. Add melted ice cream, vanilla, salt, powdered sugar, flour, and blend again. Add one egg at a time and slowly drizzle cherry syrup in between. Place a sieve over your pan and process mixture through. I added a few cherries to the batter so I could press them through the sieve, thereby adding one more boost of cherry goodness. Once all of your batter is in your crust, carefully place the pan onto your watery pan in the oven. Bake for 60-65 minutes. Turn of the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven as it cools down, allowing it to set for another 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 2 hours before placing in the refrigerator overnight, tightly wrapped.
When the cake is cool and ready to meet the crowd, place your cream in a cold mixing bowl and whip until thickened. I hand whip cream because I think it's easier than using more electric things and tastier, but feel free to whip in your electric mixer. Add a drop of food coloring for a pretty cherry pink! Drizzle more cherry syrup on top and crown with cherries. Slice it nice and devour.
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