Not scrapping today – I am preparing for a crop.  We do a pot luck most months, which is fab because there are so many good cooks that attend. Always a feast. This month we are opting for fish&chips but I did promise to make a sweet. I had something in mind.

…and I am frustrated by the missing US goodies I always took for granted.  I had to go to THREE different stores today and in the end didn’t manage to get exactly what I needed, although I do recall making the recipe I had in mind about 15 years ago when we lived in London and know I was able to get the goods then.  But not now.

Classic back-of-the-box recipe, a staple in my family for holiday meals.  Simple ingredients, easy to make (mostly a bit of whipping and dumping out of cans) but today, OMG it was a massive hassle. And lingering is the sneaking suspicion it won’t be as good.

What it took to get there:

– of course a small 9 inch pie was never going to satisfy a crop full of hungry scrappers so I had to double the recipe and make it in a large pan rather than a pie pan.

– making a digestive biscuit crust, instead of picking up a pre-made graham cracker crumb crust (butter  melted and digestives crushed, mixed, pressed into a tin and refrigerated till solid)

– lots of Googling to figure out what the UK sized cans of condensed milk  and the 200 gm packs of cream cheese (which is soft,  not a hard block so a bit of fiddling with measurements there to get the right consistency as well) equal in ounces

I ended up with three 300gm packs of cream cheese, two cans of condensed milk (although I wasn’t very careful to get every drop out of the cans, as it got to a point where it tasted right and there was still a few tablespoons left),  2/3 cup of lemon juice and two tsps of vanilla – after the mixing seems to have created the perfect soft-but-holding-it’s-shape cheesecake filling. This step is a bit like embossing – that magic moment when the embossing powder melts, and the design turnd glossy with no gaps or sprinkles … or in this case adding the lemon juice to the sweet, creamy cheese mixture and watching it seem to thicken before your eyes.  Always a moment of “OMG – is it going to work?” then “Phew!” Onto the crumb crust and into the fridge to set up.

– what in heaven’s name would be a reasonable substitute for a can of cherry pie filling for the topping!? This was the tricky bit – I found black cherries in apple juice at one store (and passed on them), red cherries in syrup (in the Polish food section) in another store (and passed on THEM but should have bought them because I found ….)  red cherry jam in a third store, which also had the black cherries in juice but no red cherries in syrup.  There was NO WAY I was going back to store two for the red cherries.

So, instead of simply opening up the can and dumping it on the top of the cheesecake, I got very mad-scientist.  I drained the black cherries, saving the juice.  I melted the red cherry jam in a saucepan, adding some of the juice and then added some cornstarch (corn flour) and carefully boiled to thicken it.  Back in with the drained cherries and in to the fridge to cool and check. Proportions?  No idea – it was stirring and tasting and letting it drop from the spoon until it seemed the perfect gloopy consistency I remembered.  It tastes good, but in a side-by-side comparison I just don’t know if it will be as perfect in combo with the thickened cheese mixture as the original. And it isn’t the near-neon red of the original, seen above. And rather than topping the cheesecake today, I think I will see how the topping spoons out tomorrow morning and perhaps carry it along to the crop in two bits, ready to assemble when serving.

A 20 minute quickie dessert becomes a 2 hour struggle to get something only approaching the original. PAH!

and that’s before I mention the forgetting to buy a new mixer-with-beaters (not a wand blender) at the first store, then the 2nd store being sold out (delivery due today) so having to commit to the 3rd store to be sure I got one, which tipped the scales in the passing on the red-cherries-in-syrup  since I HAD to get the mixer  at the third store anyway (and that was the chain where I found the pie filling when we lived in London.) The single bright spot?  The mixer with beaters was on sale (£2 off at the third store) and better quality that the one I WOULD have bought at the 2nd store if they had had one.

I kept a tiny bit of all the elements out to make a very small cupcake size taster sample.  I’ll force that on DH and DS tonight and see what they think.

I only have a couple of layout kits ready to pack, and I know we are doing a mini-book class so I hope I’ll be busy enough to fill the day if I can manage one or two more layouts sorted. And will TRY not to forget something critical. I always seem to – scissors, a cutting mat, a trimmer…ADHESIVES! I’ve headed off to crop many times only to find I don’t have that ONE THING that I really cannot do without.  Fortunately my crop buddies are a generous (and far more organized) lot, often having not one, but TWO of just the thing I need.

A long and rambling post, not in the least bit crafty, not really, but better than a blank page – or is it?

Mary Anne

4 thoughts on “Frustration!

  1. I was in Sainsbury’s today and spotted cherry pie filling, it was in a tetrabrick not a can. Thought of you immediately!

  2. Oh MA – I am feeling your pain. With a smile. I’m in shock over the lack of cherry pie filling – we used one about a week ago..but no idea which of 4 supermarkets I would have picked it up from. But don’t worry – I guarantee to love it. And I don’t like Graham compared to Digestives, so for me, it’s a winner!!

  3. Looks amazing! Suddenly I wish I was coming to crop with you all. The real killer is when the hashed-together version is better than the original and you can’t remember precisely what you did. Good thing you made notes 😉

  4. Poor thing! Looks delish. Hope your luck improves. Have a great crop. xoxo

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