You’ll make all kinds of new friends when you pull this cheesecake out of the oven. Just the scent of the melted chocolate wafting down the hall will be enough to make your neighbors come a-runnin’, which is why it’s been deemed “popularity in a pie tin.”
Sometimes, all it takes is a little trick like that to take you from observing life to participating in it. I just finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and as an introvert, Charlie’s tendency to fade into the periphery completely resonated with me. Often, especially in middle school and early high school, I’d “go with the flow” and try so hard to be accommodating — what I considered to be a good friend — that I was, well, forgettable. And a bit of a doormat. No wonder I was so miserable at school! I just struggled to connect with people, but one day I realized that the problem was me. I needed to put myself out there. I had to risk being seen as crazy. Or dorky.
Like Charlie befriending two offbeat seniors who embraced him for his quirks, I began pursuing my passions — like writing for the school newspaper or organizing bake sales — and in the process, I found my place in the world. It reminded me of those moments when you feel truly alive — when you’re taking charge of your life, doing what you want to do with the people who matter most to you.
College is meant to be experienced, not studied. It’s okay to take baby steps to find your passion or your circle of friends. It all starts with putting yourself out there, be it joining a new club, inviting a classmate to a movie, or baking this cheesecake to share with your floormates.
Whatever you do, just take action. And let me know how it works out. I’ll be right here to cheer you on.
Now, about this cheesecake: Resist the urge to work with cream cheese right out of the refrigerator — cold cream cheese can become lumpy when beaten. Second, don’t worry if the cake jiggles slightly when you take it out of the oven. It’ll finish setting as it cools. (I learned the second tip the hard way — as you can see, the sides of my cheesecake got a little singed, but not enough to harm the flavor, thankfully!)
Black-Bottom Cheesecake with Chocolate Glaze, Veranda Nov./Dec. 2002
1 ½ cups chocolate cookie crumbs (Wafers or Oreos without the filling work well)
½ cup melted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Combine ingredients and press into bottom and partially up sides of a 10-inch springform pan.
24 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
½ teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, butter, and almond extract, and continue beating until creamy. Pour into prepared crust. Place on cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes.
Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees; continue baking for 20-25 minutes, until edges are set and the top is lightly golden. Cool thoroughly.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Combine butter and corn syrup in saucepan over high heat. Stirring constantly, boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, whisk in chocolate chips until smooth. Let cool and pour over cake, smoothing top for a glossy finish.