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  1. Cooking

Friends raise glasses of wine to summer by making strawberry cheesecake

This strawberry cheesecake is different because it mixes fresh berries into the cheese filling rather than just spooning them onto the top in a syrup. 
This strawberry cheesecake is different because it mixes fresh berries into the cheese filling rather than just spooning them onto the top in a syrup. 
Published Jun. 30, 2014

By the time I watched New York Times food writer Melissa Clark put the finishing touches on the prettiest cheesecake I'd ever seen, I knew Double Strawberry Cheesecake had to be part of my weekend plans.

I messaged my friend Leanna and said: "I'm making cheesecake this weekend. Help me eat it."

Turns out she'd just been reading the recipe for the very same video I was watching. I invited myself over to her house to make the strawberry cheesecake together.

The plan

1. I'd make the dough for the homemade cookie crust on Friday night, giving it time to rest and saving us some time on Saturday.

2. We would bike to the farmers market Saturday morning and pick up fruit and goat cheese.

3. We would make the cheesecake.

4. And then we'd let it set up in the fridge for at least six hours. Meanwhile, kill time.

Reality

1. We had a Friday the 13th birthday party so the dough was not put together until Saturday morning before our drive down to St. Pete.

2. We found no strawberries at the market because Florida's season is done so early. Ate a mango-pineapple popsicle. Biked to Publix instead.

3. Made the cheesecake.

4. Figured out how to make six hours fly by. Here are our suggestions for how to spend that resting time the cheesecake has to spend in the refrigerator before eating:

• This recipe calls for a small amount of red wine. Work on the rest of that bottle. Waste not.

• Get lunch! You've been biking and have worked up a serious appetite. Tacos are an excellent choice.

• Visit your favorite local brewery. Play some pingpong and giant Jenga.

• Start (or continue) the new season of Orange Is the New Black.

At hour four or five, we checked on the cheesecake. How long can a girl wait for dessert? Slice. Serve. Pour more wine. Dig in just as that familiar summer storm rolls in.

"Today felt like the first day of summer," Leanna said.

And it was.

Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with fiance Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. Contact her at alittlesaffron@gmail.com.

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