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Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #6 and Mini Lemon Berry Cheesecakes

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Give me an “S.” Give me a “P.” Give me an “R.”

I’m not going to waste your time or mine finishing the word, but I trust you get the idea. It’s spring!!! And I feel like cheering about it.

O.K. So you’re probably thinking–Get a life. It’s been spring for over a month.

Yes, that’s true. But until the fresh berries start showing up at the farmer’s markets, it’s not really spring. And just this week, the pick-your-own strawberry farm down the road opened its gates–earliest opening on record!

So it’s spring! Give me an “S.” Give me a “P.”

How ’bout give me a recipe?

O.K. Try this out for size–Mini Lemon Berry Cheesecakes. Doesn’t that just cry out for spring (and summer)? Lemon! Fresh berries! The cool richness of cheesecake! The baker, who lives a little farther north than this writer, used blueberries for this batch. But fresh-picked strawberries would work just as well. And they’ll be coming your way soon, because it’s spring!

Give me an “S.” Give me a “P.”  .  .  .

Hey, don’t throw your shoe at me. I’m not some howling dog!

mini lemon cheesecakes

Mini Lemon Berry Cheesecakes

For the crust:

4 honey graham cracker sheets

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, room temperature

1 large lemon, juiced

For the topping:

6 Tablespoons berry jam* 

1/2 cup fresh berries*

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with 9 paper liners, and set aside.

Add the graham cracker sheets to a food processor and process until they are fine crumbs. Add the 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and melted butter, and process until ingredients come together. Divide the mixture between the 9 paper liners, pressing and packing the mixture into the bottom of each liner.

Next, make the filling by adding the cream cheese and granulated sugar to a mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer, beat the ingredients on high until smooth. Add the flour, salt, vanilla, egg, and lemon juice to the mixture, and beat until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Divide the batter between the 9 paper liners. Bake the cheesecakes in your preheated oven for 25-27 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden brown and the centers are just set. Allow the cheesecakes to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Once the cheesecakes are cooled, the centers will have sunk slightly, leaving room for the fruit topping. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the berry jam on high for 10-15 seconds, or until warmed. Mix the fresh blueberries into the jam. Spoon this mixture on top of each cheesecake. Return the cheesecakes to your refrigerator until ready to serve.

Makes 9 mini cheesecakes.

*Any berry jam or berries will do. I used blackberry jam and fresh blueberries, but any variety of berry jam and berries will work. The possibilities are endless!

mini lemon berry cheesecakes

{Adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron}

Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #6, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #6, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #22 and Blueberry Buckle

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So what is it about August that makes it feel like summer is almost over?

In fact we’re barely halfway through the summer. But every year about now I start to feel like summer is winding down and before you know it we’ll be raking leaves (I know, that’s so old-school–blowing leaves with our hundred and fifty MPH super-charged leaf-blower!) and scraping frost off our windshields and wondering where the summer went.

I guess this sense of waning summer in August dates to our vacations as kids, when August was the end of summer for us–summer vacation, anyway. Once a kid, always a kid.

So with that summer nostalgia frame of mind, this week’s recipe is Blueberry Buckle. Blueberries are the fruit of summer, far as I’m concerned. And in most places blueberry season is winding down. So get out there and pick some blueberries and mix up this cake and cut yourself a big piece and relish in the fact that it’s summer!

(Because before you know it the snow will be swirling and a frigid north wind will be howling.)

bluberry buckle

Blueberry Buckle

For the cake:

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, room temperature

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

For the streusel topping:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1 Tablespoons granulated sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 5×7 inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.

To make the cake batter, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, or about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and egg and beat until ingredients are fully incorporated. Slowly mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt, careful not to over mix the batter. Last, gently fold in the blueberries. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

To make the streusel, combine the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and ground cinnamon. Mix in the butter until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated into the butter. Break up the streusel into small pieces and sprinkle over top of cake batter.

Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm.

Serves 4-6.


{Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #22 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #22, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #22, text © Jeffrey Anderson