One Thanksgiving, when I was just a kid, I heard the oven timer go off, and I turned off the oven. That’s what you did, I reasoned. You hear it ring, and turn it off. It was still early in the day. I’m not sure why I stepped in like that, and turned off the oven, but by and by my mother realized the oven timer hadn’t been ringing and she hadn’t been basting. She found the raw, pale turkey in a cold, cold oven, and she was pretty fucking pissed. I don’t think I told her I did it; I think I let her think she forgot to turn on the oven. Dinner was delayed, I guess. I don’t remember what else happened.
My favorite, all-time cooking fuck-up story was the chocolate cheesecake. My parents belonged to a dinner group that got together monthly or quarterly or something, with rotating hosts, and some discussion and planning amongst the wives about the menu each time. These were my dad’s rich friends from high school, now all grown up with wives and children. These friends drank and smoked cigars at dinner group parties. I got my first glimpse of caviar. C------ smoked a pipe! N----- walked into our screen door and took the skin off the end of her nose but was so drunk it didn’t hurt.
It was our turn to host. My mother made chocolate cheesecake but somehow before she got it in the oven to bake she threw the whole thing into the fridge, where it set up quite nicely.
When it came time to serve it, my mother cut a couple of pieces and I picked up two plates of that rich brown chocolate cheesecake and walked out of the kitchen backwards through the swinging door into the dining room and served the first two female guests, as I had been taught, and in the moment of the door swinging shut and me passing back into the kitchen for more, my mother let out a gasp: a big, “Oh, fuck!” kind of gasp.
But this was my mother, and she was clever and quick. The only thing to do was serve the unbaked chocolate cheesecake anyway.
|The cream cheese needs to soften
Not Fucked Up Chocolate Cheesecake
Step one is, you have to let 3 8-oz. packages of cream cheese soften on the counter without any helpful people putting them in the fridge; I suggest a threatening sticky note.
Step two is, preheat the oven to 325F.
Step three is crushing chocolate cookies with a hammer or spoon or whatever until you have about 1 ½ cups of coarse crumbs. You can use what my mother used, the Famous Chocolate Wafers. Me? I had to buy the ingredients at a small NYC natural foods store, so I’m using chocolate animal graham crackers. I left them in the sealed bag and smashed them for a while. Or you can use about 18 Oreos, either with or without the white stuff scraped off. When you think your crumbs are fine enough, add 4 T melted butter and mix. Press this into the bottom of a 9” springform pan. Bake 10 minutes.
While this bakes, melt 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate; I used the microwave. Many recipes have warnings about not burning chocolate when you melt it. I know I did it once, and it was terrible, because it smells funny and separates and shit. Don’t burn your chocolate, people. Melt it, and allow it to cool.
Next, beat your 3 8 oz. packages of softened cream cheese, 1 c sugar and 1 t vanilla (unless you, like me, refuse to actually measure vanilla and just pour some in). Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. If you have a mixer, do it on low and don’t over beat it. If you’re in a tiny NYC apartment and are doing it by hand, pretend it’s your arms day. Yesterday I couldn’t bear to go to the gym in the building and be around all the sweaty youngsters so I walked the stairs. High rise workout, bitches. Mix in the chocolate.
When your concoction is smooth, pour it over the cooled cookie crust bottom thing.
|Use a sharp knife to cut it
Step whatever: bake 45 minutes or until the center is almost set. Even though my mother served it refrigerated and unbaked, that’s a lotta raw eggs, and you don’t wanna make people sick. Bake your damned cheesecake. Leave in pan and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Fuck topping it with strawberries.
My mother’s favorite part of the story was the part where M----- called the next day to ask for the recipe. She debated whether to say the part about baking it.