I am NOT a scullery maid.
And yet somehow tonight, though my plans had not been made for it, I turned into one. This does not make me happy.
I started my evening by calling my mom and asking her for a "cheap" dessert that I could make for tonight's (as it is now after midnight) dessert night/party. There were a few suggestions, but I declined them all. Dessert nights/parties require one thing: cheesecake. And so I headed to the grocery store, for the second time this week, and picked up the ingredients to make a cheesecake. Now, I'm sure I threw in a few other things... No. I take that back. I paid $23 for my ingredients. Splurging on things like a box of graham cracker crumbs instead of actual graham crackers, that I would have to crumb myself, and a bag of chocolate chips - just in case.
After a very fun, and social, Ward Activity at Rock Canyon Park (which I had never been to) I started my adventures in the kitchen. I looked up a new recipe, as I didn't buy anything to put on top of a New York style cheesecake, and didn't have ingredients for the 2 that I have in my "cookbook" and found one that I was most excited about - Peanut Butter Cheesecake. Mmmm... I double checked to make sure I had all the ingredients and then set to work.
I should have known that cheesecake was not in the cards for me tonight when I didn't have the recipe that I was originally going to make. But that isn't unusual, so when I opened my cupboard and noticed that the plate to my 9-inch springboard pan was missing, I should have given up. Instead, I opted for the next biggest size and DOUBLED the recipe. When doubling the recipe, I noticed that I didn't really have enough graham cracker crumbs, but it seemed to work out and so I pressed on. I should have seen that the foil covering the springboard pan was trouble and that the lack of a roasting pan for a water bath would have caused problems. The fact that this cheesecake required a half hour longer than normal should have also been a tipoff to the problems ahead. But I pressed on. Ignoring the fact that there wasn't enough room in my mixer, and that contents could have easily overflowed at any point. Still, I beat the cream cheese (all 6-8oz bars) and poured the delicious concoction. I knew I had chosen a winner! It smelled so good, it looked so fantastic.
I put the decadent dessert into the oven and set the timer. I was enjoying Ashley's company and reading Harry Potter (and the Order of the Phoenix) and noticed that it was already 11:00 pm. Knowing that I would be up a while, I settled in and got comfortable.
When the buzzer rang, I eagerly got up to see the masterpiece. Now, when you are baking cheesecakes, there is a very difficult way of determining when they are done baking. I still haven't figured it out completely, but I've been more successful than not - so I keep trying. The buzzer went off and I looked to see whether my cheesecake jiggled like set custard or not. It seemed to and I removed it from the oven.
This is where the problems arise. When I am trying a new recipe, I ALWAYS follow it to the letter of the law. Modifications can come as you've gained more and more experience with that recipe, knowing what works and what doesn't. The recipe told me to allow the cheesecake to cool for 15 minutes and then remove the spring. So, I set the timer for 15 minutes and returned to Harry.
When the buzzer rang, looked at the delicious thing I had just created! It was magnificent. I knew that I would impress all the boys that will be coming tonight to honor my roommate Jaynann, and make all the girls jealous at my ability at being a domestic goddess.
But that's when the domestic goddess idea was squelched, and the Scullery Maid appeared. As I removed the spring from around my wonderful cheesecake, I could see that it wasn't completely set up. This is quite normal for me, as I rarely get the cheesecake baked to perfection. As if it had happened in slow motion, the filling of the cheesecake began to ooze from the middle. The lava of sugar, cream cheese, and eggs quickly overtook one burner and then another. I watched in horror as the entire cake deflated and created a disaster on my stove top. How any body can watch $23 and 2 hours of work deflate and NOT swear, I don't know. But all I said was, "Shoot." (It's hard to believe, I know. But really, the other words came later...) Shoot - and then it was gone. Apparently, I was only supposed to be removing the spingboard pan from the non-existent water bath. SHOOOOOOT.
And that's how I'm going to be serving $25 milkshakes. Because I am not letting this go to waste. I will be picking up a gallon of ice cream on the way home tomorrow, and we are having Peanut Butter Cheesecake Milkshakes. They will be divine. And I should charge for them.
Not ONLY was my cheesecake ruined beyond repair (there was never any hope of repair...) but I also had a GIANT mess to clean up; which, of course, did not include the dishes that I had dirtied while baking. The goo that was my cheesecake had spread into the burners. As I pulled each burner away, I noticed that the foil was old, and to my dismay the underside of the stove top looked like it had been baking random bits of food for over 2 years without having been cleaned. And that is how I became a scullery maid. I scrubbed as best I could without a Brillo pad or even 409, and didn't make any more progress than destroying the sponge beyond what I would allow to be used again.
There are few things that make me completely grossed out, but scrubbing an oven is one job that I have to be careful not to gag to the point of throwing up. It smells, and it's gross... Fewer people than Mom's have to clean such nastiness.
I'm so glad that I don't live in the 1500-1600s and have to work as a scullery maid, I would have died.
On that note, if you want to celebrate Jaynann with us, and have a peanut butter cheesecake milkshake - my place, at 9pm.
Anybody brave enough, try:
Peanut Butter Cheesecake2 cups graham cracker crumb
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
24 ounces regular or low-fat cream cheese (do not use fat-free)
1-1/3 cups sugar
1 cup creamy standard peanut butter
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup regular or low-fat sour cream (do not use fat-free)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan tightly in aluminum foil (this will keep the water in the water bath from seeping into the batter as the cake bakes); set aside.
2. Stir the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl until the graham cracker crumbs are thoroughly moistened. Pour a little more than half of this mixture into the bottom of the prepared springform pan and press it all the way to edges so that it coats the bottom of the pan. Pour the rest of the mixture around the inner seam of the pan, where the rim meets the bottom; press the crust halfway up the sides of the pan, filling in along the bottom where necessary. Set aside.
3. Beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. If you rub a small bit between your fingers, you should feel only a few sugar granules. Beat in the peanut butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next. Finally, beat in the sour cream and vanilla.
4. Taking care not to disturb the crust, pour this mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth its top with a rubber spatula. Place the springform pan in a high-sided roasting pan that's large enough to accommodate it comfortably. Fill the larger roasting pan with hot water until it comes about halfway up the outside of the springform pan.
5. Bake until the cheesecake's top is dry and lightly browned and the cake jiggles like set custard when tapped, about 1-1/2 hours. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the springform pan from the water bath and cool it completely to room temperature on a wire rack.
6. Remove the foil and cover the pan with plastic wrap, taking care not to press the wrap onto the surface of the cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight.
7. Unlatch the sides and transfer to a serving platter. If desired, run a long knife between the pan's bottom and the cake, then gently slide the cake onto the serving platter.