Last year at about this time, I was killing beatles in the backyard of my parents’ house–a captive manboy exercising his mind and his graduate degree skills plucking insects from rose bushes and destroying them one by one. squish. Surely, a high-point in my adult life…er….Oh nostalgia…the good times when I was an efficient beatle-killing machine!
As you can imagine, with July 4th rolling around this year, I was wondering whether or not I would still be sitting around Baltimore finding mindless tasks to pass the time–perhaps I’d move on to snails or slugs?!–or if I would be back on top in New York City happily ordering around a team of office peons or taking off for a new adventure in old stomping grounds. Maybe Sao Paulo? Maybe Singapore?
I’m not quite up to fondant cakes yet…but almost!
In the weeks leading up to independence day, when most of America was gorging itself on cheeseburgers, and corn, and cobbler, I was celebrating imminent independence–the type of independence I felt a half a life-time ago when I left home for college to feed and clothe myself like a big boy and to start out on a path to explore the world. I had decided to leave my “manboy” status in Baltimore and move to San Francisco. I know, I know…It’s about #$%&@$ time..!
My “me party” started last Monday
So here I am, and let me tell you, independence feels good. So so so good. As good as my red-white and blue blueberry-strawberry cheesecake tastes? Oh yes. Happy independence day to me! Time to celebrate by eating an entire cheesecake and then some.
To make this cheesecake, which I adapted from several different recipes online, first gather your ingredients (full list below!)
Pre-heat your oven to 350 F. To make the graham cracker crust, pulverize the graham crackers in a food processor. If you don’t have one, you can crush them under a bowl or even a book. Add 2 tbsp of sugar to the graham cracker crumbs and stir together. Melt the butter and slowly add it to the mixture until it clumps.
Using a spoon or your fingers, incorporate the butter into the mixture. Place the mixture into the bottom of a 9” spring-form pan, and spread the graham cracker mixture around, pressing it down so it covers the bottom of the pan. Place into the oven for a quick ten minutes and then remove it and set it aside to cool.
Next make the cream cheese filling. Beat all of the cream cheese and the sugar together until it is smooth (about 5 minutes). Add the sour cream, lemon zest, and the vanilla and mix together again for another 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs(4) and egg yolks(2) one at a time and beat together until just incorporated into the mixture. Make your preserves before pouring the cheesecake batter into the spring-form pan.
Pre-heat your oven (or raise the temperature of the one you used for the crust) to 450 F.
In two separate saucepans (one for blueberries and one for strawberries), combine the berries, sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes stirring often. Allow the mixtures to boil so that they cook down and become thick.
Add 1 to 2 tbsp of corn starch to the blueberries, which often times need some help to thicken. Once done, remove both pots from heat. Strain the blueberry mixture if needed.
Pour the cheesecake mixture over the graham cracker crust. Slowly drizzle the preserves over the cheesecake batter. If you are not happy with your drizzling job, take a wooden chop-stick and use it to swirl the preserves and make a wacky design, like I did.
Bake the cheesecake in the oven for 15 minutes at 450. Reduce the heat to 225 and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. When you open the oven up after this time, the middle should look firm like jello, but still not fully set. Turn off the oven and allow it to sit in the oven for 15-20 minutes or so, before removing it and letting it cool fully on a rack. Once cool, remove the sides of the spring form pan (but not the bottom) and wrap it up and place it into the fridge over night so you can enjoy it like the inner-piggy that you are all week long…
- 1 package graham crackers (8-10)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 packages of cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of ½ lemon
- 4 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup strawberries
- ½ cup sugar (1/4 for blueberry perserves, ¼ for strawberries)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1-2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup strawberries