Can you even believe it’s been a year?
We’ve spent so much of these past 365 days talking about the pandemic that is seems redundant for me to spend even another second mentioning it here. The truth is, however, that what we’ve experienced has been life changing, and I think it’s really healthy to consider where we were a year ago, how far we’ve come, and what we need moving forward. While it would be easy to look at the past 12 months and try to wish it away or shove it all into the darkest corners of our past, I don’t want to waste this experience; I’d love for each of us to walk away from the pain and trouble of this pandemic as better, more resilient and loving versions of the selves that entered into it. So here’s what I’ve been chewing on.
The single greatest take-away I have from this past year is that relationships mean everything. Most of us, prior to 2020, took even the smallest interactions and gestures of kindness for granted: a smile at the grocery store, a lazy coffee date with a friend, sharing a bucket of popcorn at the movies or a bottle of wine around a crowded dining table. The encouragement and solidarity we find in those interactions have the potential to nourish our souls in deep ways, and, for me, it wasn’t until those interactions were deemed unsafe that I began to realize how much I needed them. Texting, phone calls, and waves from a distant aren’t always enough; sometimes we need that face-t0-face talk with our best friend. We need to hug our grandparents and our little sisters. We need to care for one another with laughter and kindness and touch because we were created for relationship. The isolation of this year hasn’t just been a bummer for our social calendars- it’s left a wanting hole in most of us.
A few weeks ago, I met my grandparents in a drive-thru COVID vaccine line to give them their vaccination application paperwork. The parking lot was filled with maybe a hundred cars, most of which were occupied by one or two elderly people. I’m not sure if it was just me (#hormones), but the energy was almost palpable, and I teared up thinking of all the families who were going to be safely reunited with their grandparents soon. I took a lot of those relationships for granted, and I’m eager to learn from this experience by loving the people around me a little more generously.
Another big take-away I have from this past year is that, in some cases, less really is more. I had the privilege of staying home with my kids those first couple of months of quarantine, and while, admittedly, I found lots to complain about in our newly scaled-back life, I was sincerely grateful for what I found in its place. Where there was once busyness and rushing in our normal day to day life, I found time– a pace of life I hadn’t walked out in years. I’m really grateful to have had those opportunities with my children, and, looking back, I realize that a lot of the “stuff” that filled our calendars before wasn’t really what my heart desired. What I wanted deep down and had the luxury of experiencing during quarantine was intentional relationship with my family, and moving forward, I hope I’ll remember some of that, particularly when the urge to do more (and all too much) sneaks in.
The final big thing that this past year has reinforced in my mind is that we all need to show one another a whole bunch of grace. Each of our stories has read completely different these past 365 days, and it’s helpful for me to remember that my version of this experience has likely been vastly different from yours. We will all process the challenges and loss of this past year in our own way but we can offer one another grace in the midst of it all, particularly when it comes to areas where we don’t see eye to eye. My hope is that, after living through a year that pruned away a lot of the comforts and certainties and facades that many of us (raises hand!) clung to, we find that all that cutting back and stripping away made room for growth that our previous selves wouldn’t have made room for.
There’s been lots of learning this past year, and this is just a small glimpse into mine. It may have been overkill to share allllll of that, but my hope is that you’ll have the opportunity to reflect on your own story and pick out a few things you want to take with you from here on out. I’d love to here from you about this in the future, but, for now, let’s get to this chocolate mascarpone cheesecake.
I love cheesecake, particularly when it comes to ones that are made extra with comforting toppings. This chocolate mascarpone cheesecake is all the yummy, creaminess of a traditional cheesecake with the added taste and texture of mascarpone cheese. Add that to a chocolate cookie crust and gooey caramel, and you have yourself a winning combination.
The directions for this chocolate mascarpone cheesecake are pretty thorough, mostly because I know a lot of people struggle with making cheesecakes. There always seems to be sunken centers, fault line cracks, and soggy crusts, right? So, while the instructions may be over-the-top, I find the juice is worth the squeeze here, and that extra attention to detail yields a really fantastic end product. While the star of this show is definitely the cheesecake center, there is room to take some liberties when it comes to the topping. I used a cup of my favorite homemade caramel sauce for this cake, but you are welcome to sub in your favorite store-bought variety or recipe of your own. Or perhaps you want more chocolate? Try a ganache topping, a homemade fudge sauce, or maybe even just some fresh fruit. Make the cheesecake your own here.
Phew. That was a lot of conversation today, but to sum things up– this past year has been a lot, love your people well, and don’t forget to make this chocolate mascarpone cheesecake. Happy Tuesday and happy baking!
If you like this chocolate mascarpone cheesecake you should try:Print
Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake
This chocolate mascarpone cheesecake is a rich and fluffy dessert with an espresso scented chocolate cookie crust and a thick caramel topping.
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 60
- Total Time: 180
- Yield: 9 Servings
- Category: Dessert
For the crust:
- 12 ounces (about 31 cookies) chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreo’s)
- ½ teaspoon espresso powder
- 5 tablespoons (70 gm) unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
- 1 pound/ 2 blocks (450 gm) of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 pound mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 gm) sugar
- ¼ cup (20 gm) cocoa powder
- 3 large eggs (170 gm), room temperature
- ¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup caramel sauce (follow the link in the text of my post for my favorite recipe or use your own favorite recipe or store-bought variety here)
To prepare the crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare a 9″ springform pan by wrapping it in sheets of aluminum foil. I use 3 layers of extra wide, heavy duty foil wrapped to the top lip of the pan. Spray the inside walls and bottom of the pan with cooking spray.
- Process your chocolate sandwich cookies in the blender on medium speed until they have been reduced to crumbs. Combine the crumbs with the espresso powder and melted butter in a small bowl until the crumbs are well moistened. Gently pat out your mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.
To prepare the cheesecake:
- Begin boiling some water in a kettle or saucepan for your water bath.
- Place the softened cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream on medium speed until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the cocoa powder and eggs. Stir on medium until integrated. Add the cream and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
- Strain the cheesecake batter through a mesh strainer (if desired) into a reserved bowl. Pour the strained batter on top of the crust. Gently rap the pan on the counter to help any air bubbles escape.
- Place your springform pan into a slightly larger baking dish/pan and fill the larger pan with the boiling water you prepared for the water bath until the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Carefully place both pans in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. After an hour of baking, the edges and top of the cheesecake should be set but still slightly jiggle in the center. Turn the oven off and allow the cheesecake to rest in the oven for an additional hour. Remove from oven and aluminum foil, discard the water bath, and then place the cheesecake in the fridge to chill for several hours or overnight. The cheesecake can be stored in the fridge for several days.
- When ready to serve, top with warmed caramel sauce, slice and serve.