I’m going to get gross and squidgy on you for a second. I love the ever-living bejesus out of my husband. Like, for reals, he is my favourite and I’m so, so, so glad he’s the one I get to share my life with.
Pre-Colin, I was a tried-and-true serial monogamist. I basically never ‘casually dated’ anyone, every relationship just kind of escalated into a multi-year affair. This meant I was good at ‘relationships’ (sort of) but didn’t get much time to myself to… you know… develop as a human- solo.
Between the ages of 14 and 24 I was single for, cumulatively, less than a week. It was weird.
When I hit my mid-twenties, fresh off a truly devastating break-up, I decided I would be single. Single. With a capital ‘S.’ For me. I had to learn how to be me, no plus-one.
I will be honest with you, it wasn’t fun. Those first 6 months or so were really, really difficult. But then, it got better. It got a lot better, actually. I tended my friendships like the precious, and often neglected, flowers they were. I went out. I had fun. I did whatever I wanted. I figured out who I was, alone. I became… well… me.
The Great Singleton Experiment gave me a unique self-assurance I had never experienced before. I knew what I liked, I knew what I didn’t like, and I wasn’t going to change either of those things just to impress a boy. Not anymore.
When I met Colin again, years after meeting him for the first time, I had been forged by my singleness into a full human (well, much fuller than before). I could regret that we didn’t start dating 9 years ago when we first met, but I don’t because, I’ll be honest, I would have definitely screwed that up.
I don’t believe a lot in fate but things really did turn out exactly the way they were supposed to, even if it meant I had to endure some dark days to get there.
So, what does all this have to do with a bloody cheesecake recipe? Well, I’m glad you asked.
I don’t have a sweet tooth. Colin doesn’t have much of one either, but he’s got more than I do.
Colin comes from a family where dessert after dinner is the standard. Waffles happen on weekends. Syrup. Sweet fruit sauces. Crumbles. Cakes.
In my family, dessert happens once in a blue moon (I’ll be honest, usually when we’re less than entirely sober, and start getting our munch on). Waffles… have never happened, but occasionally we’ll make eggs benedict. Winos and fat tooths, the whole lot of us.
So- compromise. I won’t ever be the girl who makes dessert after every meal. I won’t pretend to prefer pancakes over a breakfast burrito. But, if every once in a while Colin has a sweets craving, I’m more than happy to indulge it… with my own spin 😉 Cheesecake, my love? Sounds good! (but it’s going to be a sweet dessert with a savoury edge)
This cake is a fine, beautiful balance. Sweet, but not cloyingly so, with a gentle tartness. It’s everything a cheesecake should be! The goat cheese in this cake is subtle, you’re not going full-savoury with this one, but it does lend something extra to the flavour profile of the dish.
Strawberries and balsamic are a classic pairing. Balsamic vinegar is usually used in savoury cooking but here it actually makes the dish sweeter- amplifying the flavour and natural sugars of the strawberries.
Rounding out the dish is a couple small sprigs of basil. This is probably the biggest stretch for those firmly planted on ‘Team Dessert,’ but I promise you, it’s still very much a sweet finish to any meal. As we know from a classic Caprese salad, basil and balsamic are the beeeest of friends (ditto goat cheese!) but, wouldn’t you know it basil and strawberries are also super tight.
Classic flavour pairings in a non-classic setting. What at first sounded outlandish, all of a sudden makes perfect sense.
(Kind of like that time I randomly facebook messaged a dude I talked to once, ages ago, out of nowhere… and now we’re married and expecting our first child together. I have no idea what compelled me to do that back then, on the spur of the moment, but look at where it brought us.)
|Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Strawberries, Basil & Balsamic|| || |
- 1 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1½ cups goat cheese, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1½ cups creme fraiche or sour cream
- 4 eggs
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, zest
- 1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 lemon, zest
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- 1 punnet fresh strawberries
- ~1 tsp balsamic reduction
- ~1 Tbsp fresh basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform in heavy-duty aluminum foil.
- Combine all the crust ingredients together in a bowl until the butter is well integrated. Pour into the springform pan and gently press across the bottom in a roughly even layer. Using the bottom of a flat glass, press down the crumbs to make an even, flat surface.
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and set aside. We want hot water, but not boiling.
- In a large bowl, beat the goat cheese, cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add creme fraiche and mix until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla and lemon zest and beat to combine. Pour mixture into the springform pan.
- Place the filled springform pan on a large baking sheet then pour the hot water you prepared into the bottom of the baking sheet- this will prevent the cheesecake from cracking in the oven. Gently place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let the cheesecake cool completely in the springform pan. Remove the sides of the pan and place cheesecake in the refrigerator until ready to serve- at least 2 hours.
- Immediately before serving, top cheesecake with sliced strawberries, a small drizzle of balsamic reduction and a smattering of fresh basil (small leaves or large leaves cut into a chiffonade).