It seemed like such a good idea – a nice creamy cheesecake to contrast with the poached rhubarb fresh from the garden.
The rhubarb was delicious. Roasted gently in its own juices and a liberal sprinkling of sugar, it kept its shape and gave a welcome zing of acidity.
But the cheesecake – what a disaster. It had fabulous ingredients so it should have tasted equally fabulous, right? Wrong. It tasted like shaving foam and looked like a particularly sloppy custard pie. Maybe one of my guests should have just pushed it in my face. Instead they were extremely polite. “Well, it looks strange and it’s nothing like a cheesecake. But it tastes good,” they insisted.
I beg to differ. I had to keep going back to taste a bit more just to make sure it was really as bad as I thought it was. I think I’ll feed the leftovers to the hens. I’ll let you know if they eat it or not.
Here’s what happened:
1100 Go out to vegetable garden with a spring in my step and a trug over my arm to harvest the rhubarb. Pick large quantity.
1115 Have a beer because it’s such a hot day. (Is this where it all began to go wrong, I wonder?)
1130 Take out cheesecake base made the previous day and left in fridge to harden. Poke it with a fingernail. Seems ok. Put it back.
1133 Assemble ingredients for topping. I don’t have the right stuff, but I can improvise, right? Original recipe calls for 400g of full fat cream cheese and 300g of marscarpone. I have 250g of ricotta, 250g of marscarpone and three-quarters of a tub of Phili-style cream cheese. Close enough.
1140 Beat all the cheeses together with an electric whisk as required. Add icing sugar in the correct quantities and get a thin film all over everything in kitchen, including laptop. The recipe says the mix should be thick and creamy. This is thick and creamy, isn’t it?
1150 Slather the topping over the base. Place cheesecake back in fridge and clean up kitchen, allowing myself a feeling of cautious optimism that this is going to be a darned fine dessert. Have another beer to celebrate.
Plan blog post resplendent with pictures. Potter about prepping the rest of dinner, including poaching the rhubarb.
1830 Remove cheesecake from tin, leaving it on the tin base for safety’s sake, grate a bit of lemon rind on the top, call husband to admire, place back in fridge.
1930 (approx) We’ve eaten the lamb, had seconds and moved onto pudding. Some wine may have been drunk. I produce the rhubarb and cheesecake with modest disclaimers. I cut the cheesecake. I can’t get the base off the tin. I swear a bit. I put the first offering on a plate. It looks a bit — sloppy. It lacks that firm creamy fluffiness a good cheesecake should have. This is just creamy.
We all taste. Oh dear. Friends make comforting noises, tell me it tastes like a marshmallow cake made by their former Scout group (gee, thanks) then giggle a bit and say they’ll comment on my post. I threaten never to feed them again. They probably feel grateful.
So that’s how not to make a no-bake cheesecake. There seems little point in giving you the recipe but if anyone can tell me where I went wrong I’d really like to know. Were my substitute ingredients a colossal error? Did I not beat it for long enough? Because I was only joking about all the beer.
PS I looked at it again this morning. It’s lying slumped in the fridge, looking ashamed of itself.
PPS The chickens love it but they’ve got revoltingly sticky beaks.