When my mom once ordered cheesecake, all I knew about cheese was that it was hard and orange. At 5 years-old I didn’t know the word oxymoron, but I knew at that moment what it felt like. At that age I expected sugary desserts and didn’t come to appreciate the sour tang of her creamy indulgence for many years.Learning that Cherry Cheesecake day is celebrated this month when the cherry trees are blooming, I remembered my first cherry cheesecake with canned pie filling, and it made perfect sense.
Long ago, Campfire Girls group had invited our parents to a Lincoln’s birthday dinner, and dessert was fittingly cherry cheesecake of the no-bake variety. We mixed the cream cheese and sugar with some kind of powdered instant whipped cream substitute which set up in the refrigerator, and topped the cakes with filling just prior to serving. A week later I made one at home to celebrate my parents’ and grandmother’s birthdays. Bringing plates of cake to the table I dropped one, cherry side down, and my grandfather’s incredible sense of humor caused him to laugh until he cried that night and every time he told the story for the next 40 years.
I now appreciate cheesecake so much that it’s my favorite ice cream flavor. Real cheesecake isn’t made from silver packages in the grocery store. The gelatin in those products hinders the fluffiness I expect. Although Shopper’s Corner sells the real stuff I’m in no mood to bake. Across the street however, The Buttery has. the most perfect tart cherry-topped four-inch cake ($9), its sides dusted with graham cracker crumbs, and its interior lusciously creamy and sweet. | KP
The Buttery, 702 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 458-3020. Open 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily. Visit butterybakery.com