(Before I start my furious typing/blogging, I would just like to wish my Mom a very happy birthday. Mom, I really hope you enjoy your birthday as much as Melanie, Dad, and I enjoyed preparing for it. Most of all, I hope you love that cheesecake -wink-.)
What jumps into your mind when you the hear the word “cheesecake”?
The type of cake that you slice into thin vertical slices with your fork so you can savor it for longer? The delicious dessert that you taste at every holiday party? Or simply the richest cake ever? I give all of those a thumbs-up. (If you said “The Cheesecake Factory”……)
Cheesecake reminds me of Paris because the best cheesecake I have ever had was from a café on a small alley in the City of Light when I was 12. I documented every moment of that unforgettable night in my diary and, when my memory hazes, I reread my 3-page entry over and over again to remember it. The clothes my family wore, my purple Crocs, the waiter with the baritone voice and thick mustache, the slender glasses of wine, poisson, bœuf bourguignon, delicious stewed legumes, and the melting candle with dripping wax.
Most importantly, of course, was the dessert. My sister had crême brulée with a top that cracked with a crisp *crunch* the moment her spoon reached the custard. My parents shared a gooey chocolate cake whose warm fudge guts spilled out as they dug in. (I probably just ruined the atmosphere with my guts analogy, but this is what happens when you work on an autopsy project for research.)
And I had a slice of the richest cheesecake I’ve ever had in my life. The way the cool cheesecake mixed and melted with the hot raspberry sauce was heavenly. There was a soft touch in the texture that inspired me to run back to our hotel and scribble furiously in my diary (and draw an anime picture of my 6th grade crush because that’s obviously what cheesecake does to preteen girls).
Oh Paris. What would I give to be running my hands over the clothes at Zadig & Voltaire on Rue Saint-Honoré again or walking out of my hotel to the smell of hot crêpes and fresh-baked croissants au beurre?
Luckily, I’ve recreated that little slice of heaven from Paris in cheesecake form.
I added matcha, though. Way to ruin the whole Parisian atmosphere, right? Not exactly. Rather it gives the cheesecake a little “Mom” touch. My mom and I are both matcha fans. We love those little pricey jars of green tea powder. I also loved the soft, richness of the cheesecake I tasted in Paris. So in simple math…
Mom’s favorite ingredient + Natalie’s favorite texture=Matcha Cheesecake
Green Tea Cheesecake (By me)
1 3/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup of butter
1/2-3 tablespoons of oil
2 (8 ounce) bars of Neufchatel cheese (aka cream cheese with 1/3 less fat)
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons green tea powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan.
- Melt the butter and mix it with 1 1/4 cups of your graham cracker crumbs. Press crumbs firmly to the bottom of your springform pan and along sides.
- Depending on how tall you would like your cheesecake crust and how thick you would like it, mix 2 tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs with 1/2 tablespoon of oil at a time and press it into your springform pan. Repeat until your crust has reached desired thickness and/or height.
- In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the green tea powder, eggs, and vanilla extract until lightly and creamy; pour into the crust.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the center jiggles evenly when the cake is shaken lightly. Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.
I have a pen-pal from France named M– who tells me all about her college, l’université de Valenciennes, and the itsy bits of life like her favorite foods (la tarte au maroilles, les fricadelles, la carbonnade) and the small boîte de nuit (night club) in Bazuel where she and all her friends go, as well as the interesting high school curricula in France.
When I told her I went to California this past July, she told me that it was her dream to travel to California. On the contrary, it is my dream to cross the Atlantic to Europe again. I do hope that one day I can go to Valenciennes and meet my lovely M– in person and escort her to the West Coast.
It’s wonderful having a pen pal in another country who is as interested in my world as I am intrigued by hers. She asks so many questions about what college is like in America and especially about what “football” is. Though I am not exactly the expert at the latter, I did my best and she recently wrote back asking, with a twinkle in her eye, if football players sont séduisants. (If you don’t know what that word means, I’m making you look it up. It’ll come in handy someday.)
I am in the process of writing a proud letter to M– telling her that I have baked a cheesecake that came close to the rich, creamy texture of my favorite Parisian cheesecake.
She would be proud.