I only screwed up once!
July 30th is National Cheesecake Day, because we’ve reached the point of our existence where we need to designate a celebration for every single day of our lives. So cheesecake, that creamy caloric confection that’s loved by Golden Girls, Friends (even in floor form), and ancient Grecians alike, gets its own day to shine. And what better way to truly honor this rich, sweet treat than by infusing it with cannabis?
Not one to back away from a challenge (or, at the very least, make a fool of myself and chronicle the experience for Leafly), I set out to make not just a cannabis-infused cheesecake, but a blueberry cheesecake infused with Blueberry Cheesecake after I vaped said Blueberry Cheesecake. I would create the Inception of cheesecakes! The Russian nesting dolls of cheesecakes! The “Yo dawg” of cheesecakes! It’d be cheesecakes all the way down!
There was just one small problem: I hadn’t actually ever made a cheesecake before, let alone baked one while, well, baked. But no matter! To quote Lao Tsu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It just so happened that my single step was to tackle a somewhat complicated culinary feat while under the influence of a fruity hybrid. Oh well.
I picked up ¼ ounce of Blueberry Cheesecake from my friends at Have a Heart Belltown (shoutout to Bailey the budtender for her help!) and followed Leafly’s recipe for making cannabis-infused butter. Since the cheesecake recipe I planned on using (courtesy of Epicurious) called for ½ cup of butter for the crust, I cut our cannabutter recipe by ¾ and figured it’d be better to simmer it on the stove instead of the crockpot, as I was afraid of burning the ingredients. After 2 ½ hours of stinking up my place with grassy, herby goodness, I strained out the flower and refrigerated the budder to use the next day.
The next afternoon, I headed to a coworker’s apartment two blocks from the Leafly HQ, cheesecake ingredients in tow. Along for the ride were Julia, Leafly’s photo editor, and Rocco, who served as my sous chef since he’s baked many delicious cheesecakes and would help un-screw-up any screw-ups I’d undoubtedly make.
We ground up some Blueberry Cheesecake and I soon felt the indica-leaning hybrid’s relaxing, euphoric effects. The strain definitely had some fruity flavors and a hint of sweetness, with Rocco detecting some citrus and earthy notes as well. My pulls were smooth, and after a seemingly never-ending bowl, I felt ready to channel my inner Swedish Chef. Let’s do this!
The Epicurious recipe calls for wrapping your springform pan in aluminum foil so you can partially submerge it in a water bath while baking. Rocco guessed that the foil and water would inadvertently help protect the cannacrust and also result in an airier cheesecake. (It turns out the water bath helps cook the cheesecake more evenly.) I swaddled my pan in a makeshift diaper and assured myself that my little cheesecake baby would turn out just fine.
I melted my cannabutter on the stovetop, mesmerized as the hardened shards softened into a kiss-of-green melted consistency. After transferring the butter, some sugar, and graham crackers into the stand mixer, I watched the paddle waltz with the ingredients to create a dance of barely moistened crumbs.
Next, I dumped the mixture into my springform pan, pushing around grains like I was building the world’s most inept sand castle. I fumble-formed an impressively lopsided crust, with one side an inch thick while its opposite looked like a past-its-prime Stretch Armstrong begging to be put out of its misery. Rocco to the rescue! He expertly evened out my infused crust while I pondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.
I popped the crust into the oven, set a timer for eight minutes, promptly forgot about the crust, freaked out when the timer went off, ran around the kitchen looking for a wire rack to rest the pan onto, and settled on what looked like a gigantic mesh fry spatter lid. With my crust cooling atop my makeshift platform, it was time to turn my attention to the filling.
Sugar, cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract plopped into the stand mixer and swirled into a creamy pale batter. Julia peered in and said, “It looks soupy.” Cue the paranoia: OH MY GOD IT DOES LOOK RUNNY THIS THING ISN’T GOING TO COOK I JUST MADE A CHEESECAKE SOUP WHY DID I THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?!
Noticing the look of abject terror on my face, she quickly added, “I’m sure it’s fine! It’ll firm up when it bakes!” I nodded, drowning my pastry pity party in a couple finger scoops of batter. Ooh, that’s good. Julia agreed: “It tastes really yummy!”
I had just finished scooping the last glob of batter from the bowl into the springform pan when I heard Julia say, “Hey, what’s this for?” She held up a glass bowl containing a little mound of white powder.
Oh shit. The flour. I FORGOT TO MIX IN THE FLOUR!!!!!
I wailed in despair, unleashing my best Vader “Nooooooooooo.”
“No wonder it looked soupy!” Thanks, Julia.
Turns out a cheesecake recipe needs flour. Duh.
“We can fix this!” Rocco assured me. We spent the next several minutes carefully scooping enough filling out of the pan back into the mixer so I could add the flour, then I re-poured the fixed batter into the derped batter and swirled everything together in a sad attempt to incorporate the two in holy battertrimony.
“I feel like I’m giving this thing a massage,” I muttered as I gently caressed the filling with my spatula. Perhaps vaping and baking don’t pair well, after all. (I’m kidding, they still do.)
After eating my feelings in the form of corrected batter (Julia, helpfully: “It tastes yummier with the flour”), I placed my Frankencake into a large roasting pan and filled the pan with about an inch of water before praying to the baking gods and shoving it into the oven. It baked for an hour, then sat in the oven for another hour after I turned off the heat. Rocco showed me how to feel the cheesecake and look for its signature “bounce” to gauge its doneness. I poked it and it felt springy, with little bubbles formed along the top. It was either done or it was going to blow like a homemade grade school volcano. (Hopefully the former.)
My coworker babysat my little cheesecake child overnight. The next day, I returned to his apartment, cracked some lopsided crust off the top, and made a compote by mixing melted blueberry preserves with fresh blueberries. This thing looked surprisingly good! But how did it taste?
I wasn’t sure whether the cheesecake was potent or even remotely edible. The recipe instructed me to bake the cake at 375 degrees, so I was worried that some of the infused butter burned off at that combustion point. I did put ¼ ounce of flower into it, though, so I hoped some of it stuck around to deliver some noticeable effects.
Despite the fact that I had never made cannabutter, a cheesecake, or a cannabis-infused cheesecake, and pretty much had no idea what I was doing at every stage of this process, I convinced my coworkers to try my culinary experiment. It turns out free cannabis-infused treats at the end of the work day on a Friday isn’t a hard sell, and my peers swarmed upon the dessert like ferocious piranhas stripping meat from a bone.
The feedback was swift:
The filling tasted great — I couldn’t detect any lasting damage from my flour screw up, as the base was creamy, tangy, and sweet, with great texture and consistency. As for the crust, which was where the infusion took place, I noticed a hint of “weedy” flavoring but it wasn’t overpowering or offputting.
My coworkers didn’t seem to mind the crust, either:
“the crust is SO GOOD. well the whole thing is good. [but] the crust is fucking delicious.”
“I thought the cream part tasted fantastic and just like a normal blueberry cheesecake, and then the crust definitely tasted more weedy, but I like that flavor so it added to the flavor experience.”
“The ‘weedy’ flavor is really coming out as I get to the edge. It tastes like a regular cheesecake until you try the crust on its own.”
“Once you got to the end, the crust got a little crusty. It gets a little weedy. That said, I ate every last crumb…and licked my plate a little bit.”
Okay, so the cheesecake tasted great, but how potent was it? I found the effects to be somewhat mild but pleasant and enjoyable. One coworker said:
“I’d guess I had maybe 15-20 mg in a 1.5-inch slice. Very mellow, nice body high and definitely noticeable but totally fine for socializing.”
“It’s nice! Pretty mild but quite a pleasant little head high.”
Success! I felt victorious, having achieved my goal of baking a Blueberry Cheesecake-infused blueberry cheesecake while I was high on Blueberry Cheesecake. Now which recipe should I tackle next? Decisions, decisions…