One Saturday during high school, my friend showed up on my doorstep holding a square white shoebox. “My boyfriend baked cheesecake!” she bragged as I peeked inside. “It’s amazing; he’s practically a gourmet chef!”
I tried a bite of the rich dessert and immediately handed off the entire pie to my parents as soon as she left. It tasted exactly like smear for my cinnamon raisin bagels. Her boyfriend must have forgotten the sugar or vanilla—or both!
I actively avoided cheesecake for ages afterward, nearly faking lactose intolerance at a Christmas party or two, until a few years ago when I randomly craved its texture. Not the taste. The texture.
To ensure I’d eat an entire slice, I completely masked the tangy cheesiness by mixing in half a jar of dark chocolate sauce. After devouring most of the resulting cheesecake in three days, I began brainstorming different flavor combinations to try: butterscotch, caramel, strawberry, and…