Three years ago, for my Dad’s 80th birthday, I made what I called the Marilyn Monroe cheesecake. It was glamorously fantastic, and men love glamorous desserts (trust me). But Nigella Lawson’s Cherry Cheescake has since emerged as my, and my dad’s, favorite. I count on him to request it each year for his birthday.
I had a second (or 32nd) honeymoon with unbaked cheesecake on our (so long ago now!) trip to Hawaii. At the Uahi Island Grill in Kailua, Oahu, I sampled the distractingly delicious Lillikoi cheesecake. With powdered sugar sand voluptuously mounded everywhere, who could help but crave sweets? This was a soft set, or unbaked, cheesecake, with a lilikoi glaze. I haven’t been able to figure out where to get some affordable passion fruit puree or jelly to reproduce this particular island delight, but the cheesecake itself, I can make in my sleep. Sometimes, I wake up to find one by my bed, with no memory of making it. Those are my favorite mornings…
This cheesecake is so criminally creamily that when people take their first bite, they inevitably close their eyes. If you need a stronger recommendation than that, you are just being difficult. I prefer a cookie crust to graham cracker, and I add a half cup of sour cream, but other than that, I truly do follow the recipe. Okay, I increase the lemon juice slightly. And maybe I reduce the sugar by 25%.
A tip: be sure to let the cream cheese, and sour cream, if you use it, come to room temperature before mixing, or you will be poking at lumps in what should be a smooth mixture. It only took me seven times to get that right. This will be delicious no matter what, so calm down.
As I offered my dad some pink wine (men ADORE pink wine) at his 83rd birthday party, he looked happy to still be around. The last few years haven’t been easy for him, but they have been filled with love, punctuated by cake. But then, as I often say, cake is love.
We were also celebrating my nephew Daniel’s fifteenth birthday. He requested my mom’s apple pie, which he prefers. As a toddler, he famously muttered, “Gramma appoo pie,” in his sleep. Hmph. Well, his voice may be changing, but clearly he is not yet a man, or he would go straight for the unbaked cheesecake and pink wine.
Happy Birthday Dad. As always, you remain a model of what it means to soldier on. It would be my pleasure to make this cheesecake for you on many more occasions.