Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If Patience is a Virtue, I'm Learning to be Virtuous...

This is a pound and a half of bacon. 
All I wanted was a spoon.
I wanted to make this cheesecake. Correction: I wanted to eat this cheesecake. Immediately.

I have never made a cheesecake. I never thought to make one.

But then, last week, I came across a recipe for Bacon Turtle Cheesecake. (Or, as I have come to call it – Bacon. Turtle. Cheesecake.) And I wanted it. Right. Now. I decided to I would make it over the weekend, when I do most of my cooking. I was crazy excited.

But then I got this head cold. Or sinus infection. Or whatever. I felt like crap. Starting Thursday, I could barely breathe, keep my eyes open, and was surrounded by a pile of Kleenex. Friday, I left work early. I slept on and off, stood in a super hot shower, slept some more. And then stood in another super hot shower.  Then slept some more. 

It looked as if I would not get this cheesecake after all.

Determination is a crazy thing. When I woke up Saturday, I still felt weak and crappy. I walked the dogs, sat outside while it was still early and cool enough to do so, and read and re-read the recipe. That's when I noticed something. Due to my lack of reading carefully, my tendency to skim, these words always get me into trouble.

That word kills me. Overnight. I cannot wait. I want what I want when I want it. And the when in that sentence is usually NOW.

I have never been a patient person. I love immediate gratification. Which may be, in part, why it took so long for me to learn to cook. I want to look at a menu, tell someone what I want, and have it brought to me within ten minutes, preferably five.

How long is overnight? Is it a full eight hours? Is it four or five? Is it, god forbid, twelve hours? My head was spinning, and not just from the congestion. I knew I needed to get up and start this cheesecake. I was determined. It went from a want to a need, from a need to a necessity in a matter of minutes.

But I still felt like crap. And making a cheesecake seemed like a lot of work at that point. Plus, I would have to go to the grocery store first.  On a Saturday morning. 

Fresh out of the oven.  Now, I need
to wait overnight, or till the night.
I sat on my back patio for a while longer and contemplated my situation. In the end, I figured that the least I could do was go to the store and make the cheesecake part and put it in the fridge. If I still felt bad four or five or eight or twelve “overnight” hours later, I could just do the caramel and chocolate sauce topping part tomorrow.

As always, cooking made me feel better. I don't know how I do not just know this by now. The process, the mixing, the measuring, the concentration, all made me focus on something other than the mounting pressure residing in my T-zone. I was excited to be cooking. I was excited to be doing, well anything. The familiar feeling of productivity was stimulating.

The familiar house smelling like bacon filled me up and made me happy.

Then, all too soon, it was over. And the transfer from oven to fridge took away my joy, my cheesecake, not be seen or heard from for a fortnight. Or an overnight, whatever.  It might as well have been a fortnight.  It wasn't even noon yet. I hoped, I prayed, that maybe, just maybe I could continue this feeling, this productivity later in the day, when I felt the proper amount of time had elapsed.

And I did. About four, I got up and patted my creation. I wasn't sure what I was patting for, what exactly it was supposed to feel like, how I would know the feeling, but it was certainly cool. Overnight seemed to be a little less than five hours, which made perfect sense to me.

So I set off of the caramel and chocolate topping. Caramel is an interesting animal. It seems to take forever to actually to do something, but once something actually starts happening in the pot, it is super fast. Hurry up and wait, then don't dilly-dally around seems to be the theory behind making caramel. I have made caramel once before, but this was a different recipe, and as always, felt different, felt weird. I decided to follow, because you can never have too many ways to make caramel, right?

Caramel and chocolate sauce, along with the remaining bacon crumbles, on the cake, it had to go back in the refrigerator to chill again for another hour. Is this cake really trying to kill me? My roommate and I went out to dinner. When we came home, it was ready! FINALLY! Overnight, humpf! I'll show you!

Bacon. Turtle. Cheesecake. It sounds really strange and weird. It has an interesting texture (from the bacon, no doubt) and feel. But it is delicious.  And definitely in my recipe book for good.

Lessons, always lessons, from the kitchen.

This weekend, I learned about patience. I also learned about perseverance. Sitting on the couch, enjoying the lingering scent of the cake floating from the oven, I began to ponder these thoughts. 

The idea of going to a restaurant and saying, "I would like this, and can you make sure it is perfect to my palate and at just the right temperature for me, and in front of me in say, five minutes?  Oh, and make sure it looks pretty." is actually quite a tall order.

I know that restaurants are equipped with stock recipes, prep work, better stoves than mine, and all that jazz, but still. Cooking requires thought, preparation, and above all, time. I have never given any thought to the time it would actually take to prepare a cheesecake, never thought about the effort involved in making sure it is properly cooled and before the toppings are added. I just expected it to be in front of me when I wanted it.

I just expected the cook on the other side of the line to magically know how I wanted my food to taste and at what temperature I would want it. I never gave any thought to the amount of time and training that goes into learning how to cook for the masses. How many test runs each restaurant would have to do to ensure that each dish was good enough to satisfy a majority of people. I have often wondered why food is so expensive at restaurants, even complaining that “It's just a piece of cheesecake...” (for example). I never gave any thought to the amount of ingredients, plus human-time that is required for that “...piece of cheesecake”.

I started out cooking hoping to learn to nourish and satisfy myself. Now, I find that along with this, I find myself thinking of others more and more. This venture continues to open my eyes to the outside world, in spite of the fact that I am in my little kitchen with two dogs standing by, sending me telepathic messages to drop something.

As the minutes turn into hours, I appreciate the food just a little bit more. It tastes just a little bit better. And each meal continues to educate me in ways I never expected.

Done! YUM!
Bacon-Turtle Cheesecake

2 cups Low-Fat Graham Cracker Crumbs (cookie must be low-fat to avoid soggy crust)
2 Tbs. Butter, melted
2 Tbs. Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup extra-crispy Bacon Crumbles
1/2 cup ground Almonds

24 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 Tbs. Lemon Juice
1 Tbs. Vanilla Extract
1 Tbs. Bourbon

Bacon Turtle Topping:
1 cup Sugar
1 Tbs. water
3 Tbs. cold Bacon Fat (drained and chilled until solid after cooking the bacon)
1 Tbs. Butter
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 package of Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup extra-crispy Bacon Crumbles

Make the Cheesecake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
Mix together the crust ingredients and press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. (Use enough of the crust ingredients to make the crust 1/4 inch deep). Hello, lovah!
Tap your crust with an empty drinking glass for an even texture. It should be fairly dry...the bacon will render some fat into the crust as it bakes, and anything else will result in the dreaded soggy-crust.
Cover and store the crust crumbs in the refrigerator.
Combine cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl and cream together with a hand mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles. If using a springform pan, place the pan into the center of the oven, and place 3 smaller cake pans around and under the cheesecake. Fill the empty cake pans with boiling water. (Ok, ok, or use a true water bath. Hate, hate water baths.) If using a foil baking dish, insert into a larger cake pan and fill the outside, empty pan with boiling water.
Bake 45 to 55 minutes. The edges will be set, but the center will have alot of jiggle to it and will appear uncooked. Carefully run a knife around the edges to release the cake and avoid cracking. Without removing the cake, close the oven door and turn it off; let the cake rest for one hour. Remove it, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

After the cheesecake has cooled overnight, remove it from the springform pan, press the remaining crust crumbs into the sides of the cheesecake, and place on your serving plate.

Make Bacon Caramel Sauce:

Stir together sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a shallow sauce pan. It should be dry and crumbly. Cook the sugar/water over medium-high heat. Gently stir the grainy sugar mixture into the sugar that is melting in the center of the pan. Shake the pan rather than stirring after all the sugar has melted, and bring to a boil. Let boil until amber in color. Add the bacon grease and butter. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Let the sauce thicken for 20 minutes, then pour over the top of your cheesecake, letting some pool in the middle.

Make Bacon Chocolate Drizzle:

Microwave the chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave for 30 seconds, and stir until all of the chips are melted. If some pieces remain, microwave for another 30 seconds and stir.
Carefully fill a piping bag with the melted chocolate and decorate your cake. Sprinkle the bacon pieces onto the chocolate immediately. The chocolate will harden into a bacon-candy shell once cooled.


  1. What a wonderful post! I'm so glad you understand the passion and hard work it takes to create a culinary masterpiece. I worked in professional kitchens before and had to deal with very stuck up customers, it is refreshing to see someone understand and appreciate the art. Your writing style is quite engaging, and I can picture what you're saying. I am your newest fan and follower, thanks for sharing the post, do you happen to have this very mouth watering recipe? I'd love to give it a try sometime, I dream of bacon =]

  2. I don't know what to say. Bacon on cheesecake? That just... doesn't sound right, but the way that you described how delicious it was makes me want to try it. I like how you ended this post about patience and tying it back in to the restaurant experience and our expectations and what it takes for the chef to deliver...

  3. wow, that sounds delicious! I can *so* relate to the sinking feeling when reading the words "chill overnight" or more often for me, "set in a warm place and allow to rise for one hour". to be honest, when I see things like that in a recipe, I usually find a new recipe. on the other hand, I always cook brown rice from scratch, as well as beans. but for sweets, I prefer the near-instant gratification of making cookies or cake. good for you for making cheesecake! : )
    also, I love your lessons on thinking of others and learning patience. good stuff.

  4. I stumbled onto your blog via Foodbuzz. Now, normally I don't like to stumble in public but this time I'm glad I did. :-) You have a wonderfully winsome voice and I couldn't help smiling several times while reading this post. So I had to subscribe. Now I'm anxiously looking for another post...See? you're not the only one having to learn patience...lol. Keep up the good work!

  5. First time to hear bacon on cheesecake! It sounds really weird but the photo tells me it's mouth watering!

  6. I am absolutely not a bacon fan... however!! You have me totally intrigued! I have to say I don't think I've ever met a cheesecake I didn't like, and I'm thinking I'd really like to try this one. So glad you are feeling better and got this guy done, I truly enjoyed your post.

  7. Great post! Love the recipe. Mouthwatering. As Paula says... makes ya want to slap your mama. :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...