Love in cheesecake

I have come to a great time in my life: for the first time, the word love doesn’t do my feelings any justice.

The best way I can describe this feeling is love, but what I really mean is that my heart is bleeding warmness. I literally feel a warm, prickly, fluttering in my chest cavity, nearly constantly. It’s almost like the heart-racing excitement that came with sprinting in from my first half marathon.

All I have ever wanted is to feel this happy with another person. Wholeheartedly, in every aspect of the word, in love.

I look at this kid when he wakes up in the morning with crusty sleep in his eyes and I love him. We cuddle (and look forward to it) every night and I love him. The cuddle factor is huge, for never have I ever been a true cuddler. I feel like I glow with blissful happiness in his presence. I can feel a tenderness when I look into his eyes and know that it is real when I see the same look reflected in his eyes.  We laugh together more than ever and I know that I love him. He kisses my nose and swirls me around the kitchen in an attempt to silently dance and I know that he loves me too.

All this love-talk reminds me of this scene in Dan in Real Life:

Dan’s daughter claims to love a boy in her class that she is doing a project with. Her name is Mara and she is about 15 years old. Dan is driving the car, Mara is in the backseat, hovering over his shoulder. She is insistent that she loves this boy. Dan strongly disagrees, saying that she can’t possibly know what love is after only knowing this boy for 3 days. She persists to argue, covering her ears with her hands, and repeating “I love him, I love him, I love him, I love him”, each time more aggressively.

I do love him.

That boy of mine.

It’s crazy to think that we were once strangers. I guess everyone has to start somewhere.

The moment I think he fell in love with me was when I made him a cheesecake. His very own cheesecake.

Cannoli cheesecake w/ chocolate and orange zest
recipe from Always with Butter
yield: 1 9″ cheesecake, serves 8-12

Let me be the first to say that I do not like cheesecake. They are overly sweet, dense, and decadent for my tastebuds. However, with the addition of ricotta cheese, heaps of orange zest, and chocolate chips inside of a homemade graham cracker crust, I found this cheesecake to be quite delicious. I imagine that it would be quite wonderful with a cappuccino. 

This is a plan-ahead recipe. Nothing is too complicated or involving difficult ingredients, but do follow the recipe. It is sure to make someone very very happy.

Pull out from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature: 24-oz plain cream cheese and 4 large eggs.

Crush about 8-oz of homemade graham crackers in any way you can (food processor, giant plastic bag, by hand). There should be 2 cups of cookie crumbs. Preheat the oven to 375F and place a rack in the center position.

In a medium-sized bowl, add the cookie crumbs and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Mix in 7 tbsp melted butter until the crumbs are moist and clump together slightly. Transfer the mixture to a 9″ springform pan and press it evenly into the bottom and 2″ up the sides of the pan. This is important, as it will prevent the liquid filling from overflowing and leaking through the bottom of the pan. Bake until the crust is fragrant and golden brown, 9-12 minutes. Let the pan cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 300F.

In a large bowl, aggressively whisk the cream cheese with 1 cup homemade ricotta cheese, 2 tbsp whole wheat or spelt flour, and a pinch of sea salt. Scrape down the bowl as needed and whisk until smooth and fluffy with no clumps (~5 minutes). Beat in 1 cup raw honey, 1 tbsp vanilla, and 2 tbsp orange zest until smooth and well blended. Gently fold in 3/4 cup of roughly chopped 72% dark chocolate. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each until blended. Take care not to over mix! Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top over with a rubber spatula.

Bake at 300F for 50-65 minutes. You will know it is ready when the center looks moist and jiggles like Jello-O, while the edges are slightly puffy. Set on a wire rack to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. After sitting in the fridge for 8 hours, the cake may be unmolded and frozen for up to a month.

To freeze, place unmolded cake, uncovered, in the freezer until the top of cold and firm. Wrap it in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer of tin foil. To unfreeze, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. 

To serve, unclasp the springform pan and run a knife under the bottom crust. Carefully slide the finished cake onto a flat serving plate or cutting board.

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