the family cheesecake recipe.

I like cheesecake. Even though it doesn’t have any chocolate in it (my usual dessert prerequisite), really like it. I’m kind of a cheesecake purist – I’m not a big fan of the “toasted marshmallow s’mores galore” or the “white raspberry truffle” kind of thing. A little fruit is good, sure – but I think it’s more difficult to make a plain one. Think about it – if you use fewer ingredients, and don’t cover them up with the flavors of peanut butter, chocolate-chip cookie dough, or Snickers bars, you’d better get those few ingredients right because you’re gonna be tasting them, and nothing else.
When a few ingredients are put together with care and love and precision, great things can happen. I’m a fan of that approach.
I have a cheesecake recipe that I inherited from my Mother. Or at least I thought it was from her…
She had made this recipe for my entire life, and for some reason I had thought that she picked it up when she was an Au Pair in Switzerland, at the age of 16. I always thought it was a “French” style cheesecake. Whatever that means!
After she passed away several years ago, I finally got around to asking my Dad about the recipe, and if he knew where she had gotten it. They had been divorced for a very long time, but I thought maybe he could remember. And he did – as it turns out, it was actually his recipe! He had taken some sort of hippie cooking class in San Francisco and this recipe was from the class. Beyond that, we don’t really know anything about the recipe. It could be an Icelandic-style cheesecake as much as it could be a French-style one. Regardless of its origin, it’s a very unique recipe. I can promise you, you’ve never had a cheesecake like this. It’s light and fluffy – not dense like a NY-style cake, not gelatinous like a no-bake. And it’s not that sweet. But it’s so, so good.
I have fond memories of making this recipe with my Mom. We would make it for holidays, birthdays, special dinners with friends or family, or sometimes just because. I can see her mixing the dough for the crust by hand, and meticulously pressing it into the springform, bit by bit. I can see her folding the egg whites into the cheese filling. I can remember pressing the extra dough into flattened circles and making cookies with it. And I can remember, of course, getting to “clean” the spoons and the bowl… We would even cheat and have it for breakfast pretty often – we could rationalize this because, well, it had eggs in it…

approximately 1979. not sure what’s going on here other than – cheesecake!

So now I am the keeper of the recipe. I don’t think my Dad has a copy of it, he doesn’t make it himself. I have given the recipe to one other family member, and other than that, I’m it. Heavy!
Every time I make it, I see my mom making it, and it’s like we are still making it together. I love that. And knowing that it actually came from my Dad – I love that too. Even though we never spent much time together as a family, it’s like we can still come together over a recipe. A few simple ingredients, put together with love, to produce something so very wonderful.
pressing the crust into the springform.
getting ready to fold in the egg whites…
right outta the oven…
after it’s fallen. hint: always tastes better the next day.

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