07 August, 2009

mango cheesecake

A rainy August Friday afternoon and canceled clients. They canceled, not me...a wise man once reminded me in the face of devastating disappointment that it's all good. While driving to Broder's Italian Deli with my daughter, in a '98 convertible Z3 to eat mango cheesecake and drink jasmine tea I remembered his words: it was all good. 
The summer had been incredibly dry and all vegetation had suffered. But after 24 hours of slow steady rain, everything was vibrantly colored. My tiger lilies were neon and the silly little petunias looked like velvet. Daughter was pensive, and relaxed. She was looking forward to a little retail therapy after tea, and had spent time working at the community gardens in spite of minimal sleep the night before...Her friend's mom, younger than I,  had recently died of pancreatic cancer. Her friend's mother refused treatment and died within two months of diagnosis. Her friend claimed she deliberately decided to "wean" herself from her Mom in subtle ways. I have vivid memories of weaning my daughter. It was one of the most painful things I have ever done, right up there with her birth. I thought of the time we had spent at Tate Britian last February, eating the best scones and drinking jasmine tea made in teapots like the ones at Broders's. It reminded  both of us of the time we spent in Krakow in coffee shops hanging out eating cream cakes, warm ponchki with rose jelly filling and "Lody Bambino." My own mother, her grandma, is a cancer survivor. I wanted her to skip chemo and radiation. I was silent, no one can make that decision for someone else. At 79, a heavy smoker for much of her life, a recovering alcoholic and DV survivor, the process left her fragile, toothless, and disorientated. The tea was scorching hot, too hot to drink. The fragrance of jasmine steamed in our cups, and we smiled, happy to be together.
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  • 3 large very ripe mangoes (each about 13 ounces), peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped
  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

  • Sliced peeled pitted mangoes


For crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Stir cracker crumbs and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and stir until evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Bake until crust is set, about 12 minutes. Cool completely. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:
Puree mangoes in processor until smooth. Set aside 2 cups mango puree (reserve any remaining puree for another use). Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 2 cups mango puree and beat until well blended. Pour filling over crust in pan.

Bake cake until set and puffed and golden around edges (center may move very slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 1 hour 25 minutes. Cool cake 1 hour. Refrigerate uncovered overnight. Run small knife between cake and sides of pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Transfer cake to platter. Cut into wedges and serve with sliced mangoes.

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