I am a liar. I realize that saying this creates two problems. Can you trust a liar saying she’s a liar? And also, should you question everything I’ve ever written? I would answer those questions, but I don’t know if you would believe me.
I can’t remember the very first time I lied, though I suspect it was when I was pretty young. And I know of at least two early lies in which I blamed things I had done on my younger sister. Cutting her bangs and wiping boogers on the wall. But that’s some pretty basic stuff.
Next, I lied about saying a bad word in first grade. It was one of my most unbelievable lies. The teacher had asked our spelling group to come up with words rhyming with “duck.” Being about 6 years old, I automatically started going through the alphabet, “A-uck, buck, cuck….” I breezed on past E, F, G, and H before realizing that the rest of the group had fallen silent. “Maria!” whispered my friend, Trina, “That’s a bad word!” News to me, but I was certain that I would get in trouble for it nonetheless.
I spent the rest of the day wracked with fear and guilt. I picked at my dinner, I shuffled around the house. When my dad finally asked me what was up, I made up an elaborate tale about how an older boy had said a bad word at school and the teacher was yelling at him out in the hallway, and I walked out to go to the bathroom, at which time he pointed at me, claiming it wasn’t him but me who had said the bad word! Somehow this made sense at the time, but in retrospect, it wasn’t my best work. Luckily, my dad didn’t press the issue, or that house of cards would have fallen down very quickly.
But getting-out-of-trouble lies are a gateway drug. Around age 10, I started embellishing stories to my friends. Nothing major, like, “I rode unicorns this summer!” Really stupid things that didn’t even matter. Like I’d be talking about how I went out to dinner, and I would say I ordered something that I hadn’t ordered. Or I would fabricate conversations that I had had with other people. I found myself wondering why I did it. No one ever questioned any of these lies, because they were entirely pointless. But I still got some kind of weird high from the knowledge that I had made something up and they were none the wiser. Maybe I just had an “active imagination,” as one of my elementary school teachers put on my report card.
I think the pinnacle of these lies came when I went to get a haircut near my parents’ house one day. It was the place I used to go as a kid, but all the hairdressers had changed since then. When faced with the mind-numbing small talk of the haircut chair, I decided the truth of me being a college student who lived 20 minutes away simply would not do. I claimed to have flown in from out of town to visit my parents. I made up another college I was attending, another major, another job. I said it was my dad’s birthday, even though it was June and his birthday is in January. I knew I would never be coming back to this particular hairdresser, so why not? (But why?)
I’d like to say I’m over being a liar. And I really do tell the truth most of the time. Because that’s what adults should do. Tell the truth. But I find my inner liar manifesting herself from time to time. Making up excuses as to why I can’t attend parties (because apparently, “I’d rather wear pajamas and binge-watch Orange is the New Black,” isn’t an acceptable alternate plan). Claiming that my sister came over and ate all the cereal, when it was really just me. Returning dishes that I used just once for photos. (Okay, maybe twice.)
But I never lie to you, readers. I swear, I swear, I swear. And you can trust that this cheesecake is delicious. You can trust me when I say that even though my husband doesn’t really even like cheesecake all that much, he has been eating this cheesecake every night after dinner. He said his favorite layer is the blackberry layer. …Or did he?
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 12 graham cracker rectangles)
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup blackberries, plus more for topping
- ¾ cup raspberries, plus more for topping
- ¼ cup boiling hot water
- 1 tablespoon gelatin powder
- 2¼ cups heavy cream
- 1 pound (450 grams) cream cheese
- ⅔ cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Pulse to combine. Add melted butter and process until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Firmly press about ¼ cup of crust into each of six 4-inch springform pans and set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, puree blackberries until smooth. Pour blackberry puree into a medium mixing bowl and set aside. Clean your blender/food processor, then puree raspberries until smooth. Pour raspberry puree in a separate medium mixing bowl and set aside.
- Pour boiling hot water in the top of a double-boiler or a large heat safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin powder over the top of the hot water and let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, fill the bottom part of a double boiler (or a small saucepan) half full of water and bring to a simmer. When gelatin has rested and soaked up the water, place the gelatin over the simmering water. Stir until gelatin has melted, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk heavy cream until medium peaks form. Set aside.
- In a clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sugar, salt, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until smooth and lump-free, about 3-4 minutes. You will want to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl at least once to make sure there isn't any cream cheese sticking in there, which will cause lumps later.
- Spoon about ½ cup of the cream cheese mixture into the liquid gelatin (if it has set up, just melt it again over the double-boiler). Whisk together until smooth. Add the gelatin mixture back into the remaining cream cheese mixture and stir with a rubber spatula to combine.
- Fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until uniform.
- Scoop about a third of the cream cheese filling into the bowl of blackberry puree and stir to combine. Scoop another third of the cream cheese filling into the raspberry puree and stir to combine. Leave the remaining third of the cream cheese filling plain.
- Divide the blackberry filling among the six springform pans and spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Next, distribute the plain filling among the pans, gently spreading this layer out with a clean offset spatula. Finally, spread the raspberry filling on top with a clean offset spatula.
- Cover pans with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, until set.
- When ready to serve, unclasp the sides of the springform pans and push up from the bottom to release the cheesecakes. Top with fresh raspberries and blackberries and serve.
- This recipe may be adapted to be a full-size cheesecake or put into jars, but the serving sizes will be different.