[The Great French Cheesecake Off!]

I’m pretty sure I’ve never met a man who loved sweets as much as Roger. To give you an idea, we went to the grocery store about twice a week. Each time, Roger would buy at least three-four big flat, bars of chocolate [think: the family size Hershey bars]. When we got back, he would break off 1/3 of the bar and run off to the lounge with a cup of coffee. The rest would be shoved into a crumb-filled drawer of other miscellaneous candies, cookies, and chocolates. [At the end of the month, I would finally take a peek and find that he hasn’t cleaned this drawer in months.]

Along with his addiction to all things chocolate, Roger is also a big fan of cheesecake. A sweet that is pretty uncommon in France. So, in an effort to show our appreciation for hosting us, Laura and I had a cheesecake off.

I should mention, too, that Roger had got us hooked on an English baking show called The Great British Bake Off and it further inspired us to bake our little hearts out. And Roger was happy to judge for himself.

Laura’s cake was made from her mother’s recipe. I can’t remember all the ingredients but I do remember it called for quark. It’s a more edible version of cottage cheese [I do not like cottage cheese] and it’s creamier and less chunky [thankfully]. Her recipe called for a bit of oven time but for some reason the final consistency was a bit more liquid-y than normal. So we do what all great bakers do; we put it in the freezer to harden. And it worked! It turned out pretty good for our first try.

When I was in college, I made cheesecake twice. And I was excited to give it a go again. But my results were 50/50. The first time I made it [it required baking], the consistency and color were perfect! I was so excited. It seemed too easy! And naturally I bragged to all my friends that I was an expert cheesecake maker. And naturally they asked me to prove it. And the second time wasn’t as impressive. Still good…but not as good as the first.

This time, I would have to make it count. I would go all out on this one. I chose a classic Martha Stewart No Bake Cheesecake recipe. The difficult part about cooking in Europe was getting used to different measurements. Cups and teaspoons don’t really exist. We measured everything on scales…which, in a way, was more fun..and it’s actually more accurate. A sort of fail-proof way to be exact and ensure the best possible cuisine outcome I suppose.

When we got to the store, I decided to go for a speculoos crust. If you’ve never had speculoos before, you’re missing out. Come find me and I will send you some! If you’re a frequent flyer, think Delta Biscoff cookies. …Sometimes I ask the flight attendant for two cookies and save one for a rainy day. Because I’m that lame.

Anyway, stocked with speculoos, I went off to find cream cheese.

…which the French apparently don’t import or sell. We were at a new grocery store this time around so I made do with mascarpone. I didn’t know much about mascarpone except that it’s fun to say. mar-ska-PONE-ay. Who knows if I even said it right.

When we got back to the kitchen, Laura and I started on my recipe. It was a no-bake and ridiculously easy. And just all around perfect. Perfect consistency. Great color. We had some extra speculoos crumbs leftover so Laura, the creative culinary artist, made a heart on top.

The recipe made two cheesecake pies and we ended up giving the other one to Roger to enjoy by himself. We topped off all our cheesecake pieces with strawberry or raspberry jam and we were in cheesecake heaven. Laura and I had to stop our never-ending cheesecake dessert binge after 3 nights. Roger, though, kept pushing through…sometimes eating a slice after lunch too.

He never did tell us which cheesecake was better.

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