Far Away Lemon

20 Feb

So let’s kick this thing off right…with some sugar!

I have never really liked cheesecake. I prefer my cakes to be made of chocolate, not cheese. Yuck. Cheese needs to hang out with pizza and crackers and stay away from the dessert family. But, a couple weeks ago, I had a bite of a cheesecake (raspberry white chocolate, if you’re wondering) at where else? The Cheesecake Factory. Oh-my-sugar-rush-slash-heaven-on-a-fork. I completely forgot how amazing it could be…cool, creamy, velvety deliciousness. In that moment, it was all clear…contrary to popular belief (or just my own) cakes can be made out of cheese and still be delicious. No, but seriously, I realized I have totally been missing out!

Naturally, I decided to make one from scratch (not naturally, but it’s what Paula Deen would do). Not only have I never really ordered cheesecake at a restaurant, I certainly have never made one. Why? It’s not that good, a day’s worth of calories in a slice is a tad excessive and it’s too difficult to make. Against my better judgement, I looked up recipes and found the golden ticket. Lemon Curd Marbled Cheesecake. Sign. This. Girl. Up. I didn’t care if it took me a week to make, I was going to make that cheesecake…and right away.

Now, you may be thinking…Cheesecake? I’m in. But, lemon cheesecake? Really? Out of all the flavors? I know, I know…Give me a second to explain.

I decided on the lemon because:

1. Summer is so far away. Succulent, fresh berries, tomatoes that are good by themselves and the light and bright flavor of freshly sliced lemons seem galaxies away. I also am sick and tired of making cinnamon flavored everything for fall and winter. Literally, everything. You get a cinnamon high (note to rebellious teenagers: no such high exists) just walking into my house. I go over-board on all things. The saying “go big or go home” is never wasted on me. If you know me, you know this to be true.

2. It’s my neighbor’s fault. They have a tree that dangles those bright neon globes of puckering deliciousness right at arm’s reach. Not to mention they also said we could pick them whenever we wanted. SCORE. The thought of rolling up my sleeves, putting on my overalls and picking lemons from a tree sold me. It would be so Laura Ingalls Wilder of me (for the record, I quit wearing overalls in 6th grade and in all honesty, I was probably wearing heels, but just go with it). Lemon cheesecake it was. I barely even like lemon-flavored anything. Whatever, it just screamed summer and I’m doing my part to rush in its entrance (at least in my kitchen).

Here was the final product.

(thank you, mom, for the wonderful Vanna White displaying method)

The verdict:

Stop what you’re doing. Cancel your plans. Go to the store and get the ingredients for this cake and make it immediately. It literally is one of the most delicious cheesecakes you will ever put in your mouth. It is the perfect zen balance of tart and sweet. The lemon flavor is strong without being over-powering, and the cream cheese filling is rich, but still light and fluffy.

Now, I can’t stop thinking about cheesecake. Up next? Bananas Foster Cheesecake and Coffee Toffee Almond Crunch Cheesecake. Sweet Jesus, have mercy.

After scarfing down a piece (OK, OK, maybe two), I got into a sugar-fueled thinking fest. This cheesecake had meaning…scarfing down that sweet treat was symbolic. Here’s why: So often I dismiss the very things I know I am being called to because I can’t stand the “taste” of them. Having that conversation. Writing that letter. Taking those last, hard steps. Making that change. Finally doing what you know you have to do. It usually sends me running like I’ve got a pack of pitbulls on my tail. I run around and try other things…anything to avoid the billboard screaming “HEY STUBBORN! JUST DO IT” that follows me around in my mind. Much like how I will eat cookies and cake (nom nom nom), but avoid cheesecake, I do things that are in and of themselves good, but they’re not the best…they’re not what I know I’m being called to. I’ll grab coffee with someone (great) but fail to tell them what’s really on my heart (better).

So, make that stinkin’ lemon cheesecake! Sure, make the real thing (it’s heaven), but more importantly…make that figurative cheesecake! Do the thing you think you will hate but know you should do any way. It may seem so heavy it’ll kill you, but really, you’ll never believe the sweetness you’ll find.

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