I try to mix my work and social life as often as I can. Most would call this behaviour (that’s right: “behaviour.” I’m in North Eleuthera, and felt it necessary to speak like the locals…although I may forget myself later on in the blog. But in answer to that criticism, I say: screw you, grammer/language Nazis. I’m on vacation.) Anyway, most would call that behaviour unhealthy and even risky. But I’m not talking about going to strip clubs with your secretary; watching rugby with opposing counsel (who will inevitably like the other team); talking politics with your boss, or taking your client to a comic convention. No. There is very little that can’t go wrong in any of the aforementioned situations. What I’m talking about is baked goods in the workplace. There is very little that can go wrong, and very much that works to your advantage, the least of which becoming infamous for baking things and bringing them to people.
There were two birthdays on our team that were closish to each other: my senior associate’s and my legal assistant’s. Both’s favourite colour is green, and favourite dessert is cheesecake. This was very convenient. And that they favoured different flavours (I’m having so much fun with this), gave it just enough interest not to be boring. One liked fruit, the other, red velvet. Cheesecake, happily, can be tailored to just about anyone’s preference. Unless you just don’t like cheesecake, in which case get out.
So, my challenge was to find a reliable base that was flexible enough to handle the addition of liquids, solids, and semi-liquids. I found this recipe via FoodGawker. Simple, easily put-together, and as it happens, very flexible.
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
½ tsp salt
Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and the zest of ½ a lemon to the base.
Swirl strawberry jam on the top of each before baking.
Divide the batter in half. For one half, add 1 ½ teaspoons of lemon juice and ½ teaspoon lemon zest.
For the other half, melt approximately 3 ounces of dark chocolate (I use Dove), add to the batter, and mix to combine.
Regular Oreos and lemon Oreos.
Add 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon of red food coloring, 1 teaspoon vinegar and 2 tablespoons buttermilk.
Red Velvet Oreos (if you didn’t eat them all already).
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (sorry…too lazy to convert to Celsius)
- Prepare a 12-cup cupcake tin and baking pan that you can fit the cupcake tin inside.
- Line each cup with a cupcake paper, and place the respective Oreos at the bottom of each (you will need to do two batches. This recipe does not make a full 24, but rather more like 18.)
- Beat the cream cheese until creamy, then add the sugar gradually.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition.
- Add the flavorings and fold to combine.
- Using a small (2 ounce) ladle, or ¼ cup measuring cup, dollop (I love that word. It connotes deliciousness) the batter into each cup.
- For the chocolate and lemon, do 2 tablespoons of each batter side by side in the cup. You can swirl if you like, or just leave it as is.
- Place the tin-in-the-pan in the oven, and then, with some sort of pouring vessel (I used a watering can, believe it or not), pour water so that it comes up the sides about halfway.
- Bake 25-30 minutes. Try not to let the cakes get puffy. Like a cat, that usually means bad things.
- Remove from the oven CAREFULLY. Friendly reminder that there is water heated above the boiling point still in the pan. Remove the tin from the pan.
- If you have hardy fingers, try to remove the cakes from the pan as soon as they get out of the oven to prevent further cooking.
- Cool to approximately room temperature, and then chill overnight. Or don’t. You can eat luke-warm cheesecake if it suits your fancy. Hell, you could eat them warm with ice cream for all I care.