Yesterday was his birthday.
In my brain full of thoughtful things, some slight delusions of grandeur, and a Black Visa card, I imagined throwing this man the party of all parties. Streamers, balloons, an open bar. I envisioned a party catered by someone other than myself. Music. A mud bog.
Dr. Pepper to his heart’s content.
A buffet of sour candies. With a side table full of Reese’s cups.
He deserves it, you know.
Not only does he tolerate my slightly moody overtures and quick tempers, but he does things for me. All the time. Like on my birthday when he built me a garden and made me a pie. That pie was sooooo worth a party.
Sadly, though, I don’t have an unlimited Visa card. And if I raided our bank account for party funds I’d really only be spending Chad’s hard-earned wages. If I’m being completely honest here, I don’t think he much cares that there was no throwdown in his honor. His birthday requests were quite simple:
- hot wings
- potato skins
And so I obliged.
Sweet Tarts are Chad’s grab-n-go gas station candy. Anything sour, really. But you can be sure that if he stops somewhere for a bottle of water or runs in to pay for gas, he will return with a roll of Sweet Tart candies in his shirt pocket.
Sweet Tarts are the perfect blend of sugary sour. They make Chad smile more than a party. So I put Sweet Tarts in the cheesecake.
I started with a lemon bar cheesecake poured into a Nilla wafer crust. Then I doused the baked, cooled cheesecake in raspberry sauce. Lemons and raspberries are sweet and tart. But not as sweet and tart as Sweet Tarts.
Which I put in the food processor.
I highly recommend doing this with any and all fruit. Highly.
Sweet Tart Cheesecake (adapted from Fine Cooking)
For the Crust:
- 1 (12 ounce) box of Nilla wafers
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
For the Cake:
- 3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup ricotta cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest (roughly the zest of 2 lemons)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
For the Topping:
- 1 recipe Raspberry Sauce
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 roll of Sweet Tarts candies (10-15 pieces)
Pre-heat the oven to 350. Pulse the Nilla wafers in a food processor until they are crushed into fine crumbs. In a medium bowl combine the Nilla wafer crumbs, granulated sugar, and melted butter. Press the crumbs into the bottow of a 9-inch springform pan, and halfway up the sides.
Bake for 7-8 minutes. Set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 225.
In a large bowl beat together the cream cheese, ricotta, flour, and salt on medium speed, about 4-5 minutes. Beat in the sugar and when the batter is smooth add in the lemon zest and vanilla. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating in between each one until they are just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared crust and bake for 3 hours. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool INSIDE THE OVEN. When the oven is cold, refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 2 hours,
Spoon the raspberry sauce over the top of the chilled cake, reserving at least half for serving.
Crush the Sweet Tarts in a food processor or cut them into a powder using a very sharp knife. I left some larger chunks of candy in tact for color.
Toss the chopped strawberries with the crushed Sweet Tarts and spread them evenly over the top of the entire cake.
Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.