I had it all planned out: a decadent, creamy turtle cheesecake and a pair of hand-knit socks for my mom’s 61st birthday this year. Then I missed it entirely, due to an unforeseen trip back to Oregon to help my husband clean up our flooded basement. It was wonderful to spend some alone time with him, regardless of the pretense, and I left him with a towering three-layer German chocolate cake (and about 6 pounds of Hawaiian braised pork and carnitas) by way of a slightly early birthday celebration. When I came back to Colorado, that cheesecake was the first thing on my to-do list, but by extraordinary coincidence, my mom had just made one from an old family recipe (once a big favorite of mine, but I have thoroughly outgrown it).
Once that was eaten up, I sprang into action, whipping together a turtle cheesecake from the basic Junior’s recipe. The crust is a basic graham cracker one made with pulverized bananagrahams, butter and sugar, enlivened with a few tablespoons of cocoa powder and some chopped pecans. I pressed it into a 9″ springform while the oven heated to 350F, made the essential vanilla cheesecake batter, and divided it into thirds. The bottom third went straight over the unbaked crust; I topped it with a thin layer of chopped toasted pecans mixed with dulce de leche, and poured on another third of the batter; the last third got an addition of melted bittersweet chocolate and dolloped haphazardly over top. An hour and a half later, this 4″ glory emerged from the oven. It sank a little at the top—I think my chocolate proportion was a bit off—but, once slathered with silky ganache and toasted pecans, I hardly think that matters! 🙂
The cheesecake had two hours to cool on the counter while I attended an aromatherapy class, but my mom didn’t want to wait any longer to dig in, so our first slices were a bit warm and sloppy. I dressed the plates with a smear of dulce de leche for the full “turtle” effect, and we all dug in joyfully. Even my dad, who normally doesn’t care for cheesecake, seemed to really like his slice; I thought it seemed far and away richer while still warm, and couldn’t quite finish my last few bites. But I guess if you have to say goodbye to casein for a while, a cheesecake like this one is certainly the way to do so!
And just for fun, to counteract all that talk of decadent desserts, I thought I would show off this photo of me finishing my first 5K race, which took place last Saturday near Morrison, CO. I set a PR for pace, finishing in 35 minutes despite having been back at altitude for less than 24 hours. Not a bad way to officially kick off my training for the Platte River Half Marathon in April and the Colfax Marathon in May! And not a bad way to work off all that German chocolate cake and turtle cheesecake, if I do say so myself. 🙂