Why wouldn’t we want to be the best? With perfection as the goal, low standards disappear, rough edges are smoothed, and grand results take shape. When we aim beyond our understanding, our knowledge and abilities can be fundamentally changed for the better.
Perfection, of course, is a dangerous goal as well. Mirages are unattainable. There’s always a flavor to adjust, a sentence that’s good but not great, an A- that could be an A+, and, of course, those dust specks in the air that settle right back down until those clean surfaces. I hate those specks!
There’s always more to do. But that last step is elusive. For example, the writer of a scene that makes 80 percent of readers cry longs to learn how to pull tears from the stone hearts of the other 20 percent. Perfection is the ultimate tease. It can break your heart, erode your confidence, and taunt you like an intangible gingerbread man: “Catch me if you can!”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth trying for, but only if you can appreciate where it leads you more than where it hasn’t.
Since I received some lovely springform pans for Christmas, I’ve known that cheesecake has been in my future. Recently, however, I’ve become obsessed with making the perfect Twix cheesecake. And I don’t just mean a cheesecake incorporating Twix. No, no. I want a cheesecake with the full essence of Twix: the crispy cookie, the mellow caramel, and the chocolate draping over it all.
The problem, as you might have guessed from today’s lecture, is that I had no idea what I was doing. The Twix desserts I found online all sounded tasty but missed the mark of that perfect dessert of my dreams. After much thinking, I decided on a shortbread crust, a vanilla/Twix bar middle, creamy caramel, and a chocolate ganache topping. In execution, it's a very sweet, delicious dessert, though not exactly my idealized version.
Still, it is good. And perfection can wait for me to chase it another day.
1 1/4 c. flour
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. finely crushed shortbread cookies
1 tsp. orange peel
8 tbsp. softened butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Stir the dry ingredients together. Mash or cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg and vanilla, and mix just until the dough forms a ball.
Spread a bit more than 1/3 of the dough over the bottom of the pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until crust is lightly golden brown, about 10 to 14 minutes. Cool completely on rack. Press remaining dough around the sides of the pan, attaching dough to the bottom crust.
Cream Cheese Mixture
24 oz. cream cheese
1 c. sugar
5 large eggs
3 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
12 oz. sour cream
1/4 c. heavy cream
12 fun-size Twix bars
All ingredients should be near room temperature before you begin. Cut up Twix bars into thin slices and set aside.
Beat the cream cheese on a low setting until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat after each egg. Mix in flour, almond extract, and lemon juice. Add the sour cream and heavy cream and beat well. Stir in Twix pieces. Pour mixture into the springform pan.
30 caramel candies
2 tbsp. milk
Preheat oven to 325°. Melt caramel with milk, being careful not to overcook. Pour over cheesecake. (Mine sank a little into the cheesecake and made a swirl layer. You could also refrigerate the cheesecake before adding caramel for more of a coated look.)
Place in the middle of the top rack of oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When time is up, turn oven off, slightly prop open oven door, and leave in oven for 1 more hour. Remove to a rack and cool for at least an hour before adding ganache.
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
3/4 tsp. butter, room temperature
Place chopped chocolate in a glass or stainless steel bowl. In small saucepan, heat cream and butter over medium heat just until boiling. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a few minutes. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly and then pour over cheesecake. Evenly spread the ganache over the top of the cheesecake. Cover and return to the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Serve and enjoy. :)