I had my wisdom teeth pulled this past Thursday. I hemmed and hawed, whined and moaned to coworkers. I was scared. I was convinced – convinced I tell you! – that I was going to wake up during the surgery and discover the evil oral surgeon perched over me with the metal shears of death waiting to rip each tooth out from my mouth slowly as his eyes burned with fire and the dental hygienist cackled in the background.
I know. I’m a huge baby. And a drama queen.
But you see, I had a horrible experience at the dentist. Take a trip down memory lane with me, shall we?
It was 2001. I was studying in London during my fall semester of Junior year. My best friend, Tara, and I had taken a weekend jaunt to Amsterdam and were slowly wandering around the Van Gogh museum. I was enjoying a Nip hard candy and Starry Night when all of a sudden I felt a crack. Somehow, my tooth had chipped. I thought, either I have really weak teeth or this is the strongest Nip on the face of the planet.
Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t get a dentist appointment to save my life, so I lived the four months in London with a chipped tooth. When I returned to The States, it was no surprise that I needed to have a root canal. From my evil dentist whom I hated.
He was a dentist who I had been going to for years and he was mean. Just straight up mean. I think he had a drinking problem as well (no joke). But I never tried to change dentists, because I was still under the impression that all dentists were evil.
He was a round, middle aged man, who stood no higher than 5’8”. His meaty, clumsy hands always fumbled when picking up the equipment. I still remember the sound of his labored breathing as he worked on my mouth, no doubt causing greater damage on my teeth rather than fixing them (no joke. I’ve learned I need another root canal because he drilled too close to the nerve on a cavity he filled years back. Dr. Death, DDR.
So I sat in the chair of his dim blue office with chipping paint walls as I gazed up in terror at the fluorescent lights. He gave me a few shots of Novocain and picked up an instrument. Wait! I thought. Isn’t he supposed to let it set? Nope. Not Dr. Death, DDR. He went straight to work. I winced in pain and made a feeble sound, letting him know I wasn’t comfortable.
“I can still feel it.” I mumbled in my garbled speak that only dentists can understand.
He huffed as if it were the most ridiculous thing in the world that I could still feel it. He gave me a few more shots of Novocain and waited five minutes, clearly annoyed that I was inconveniencing him because I could feel the drilling IN MY BRAIN.
I’ll spare you the details, but after an hour of screaming and 8 shots of Novocain later, I left his office looking like someone had hit me in the face repeatedly with a baseball bat, or just stuck a softball in my mouth with tears streaming down my face.
So now, whenever I sit in a dentist chair, I start shaking, become short of breath, and tear up a little bit when I think of Dr. Death, DDR.
However, this oral surgeon was anything but. He was young, handsome, and extremely charismatic. I immediately was shuffled into a back room and received a cat scan. I was confused as they strapped my head to the chair and asked me to close my eyes as the machine whirled around my face. It was the chamber of death and I was going to die by wisdom tooth extraction. I prayed that it would be a quick end as the anesthesia pulsed through my body and lulled me to sleep.
An hour later, I awoke to my boyfriend entering the room and lightly kissing me on the forehead.
“Did they start yet?” I asked.
He laughed. “Yes, you’re done.”
We went home and I surprisingly had no pain. I leered a little bit at the sight of my chipmunk cheeks, but otherwise, I was fine. No pain. No aching. Nothing. But I was instructed to take it easy to not aggravate my mouth.
Well, by the weekend, I was going totally stir crazy and I wanted to eat something good. I was sick of jello. I wanted something delicious. I’ve been eyeing this tiramisu cheesecake recipe for weeks now, and I thought this would be the perfect time. Since I bored you with my dentist story, I’ll keep the cheesecake part short. You know, because this is a blog about dentists, not food.
I don't know how many of you have ever visited or heard of Junior's Cheesecake, a New York City historical icon in terms of dessert. They have a cookbook out featuring recipes for many of their famous cheesecakes, and this one just popped out of me. Tiramisu. Cheesecake. Two of my favorite things. But would it be as delicious as it sounds?
This cheesecake is OUTRAGEOUS. Perfect for any cheesecake lover. The creamy, coffee cheesecake layer is pure heaven and is topped with a layer of deliciously soft lady fingers that were soaked in a sweet tiramisu syrup made of coffee, rum, and water. The cheesecake is then encircled with more tiramisu syrup-soaked ladyfingers and finally, the entire cheesecake is topped with the most delicious, billowy, sweet mascarpone cream.
OUT. RA. GEOUS. I could have eaten the whole thing. But then I ate an entire pint of Hagen Daaz Dulce De Leche Frozen yogurt, so I couldn’t justify more than a tiny sliver of cheesecake.
Who’s got two thumbs and gains weight when she can’t eat after wisdom tooth surgery? This girl.
Tiramisu Cheesecake – Adapted from Junior’s Cheesecake cookbook
1 tablespoon hot water
1 tablespoon instant freeze-dried espresso or coffee
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese (use only full fat),at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan will aluminum foil,covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides.
Stir the water and espresso together in a small cup until dissolved. Put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstrach in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low intil creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl down a couple of times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Add coffee into the cream, add to the cream cheese mixture, and beat just until it's completely blended. Be careful not to overmix! Gently spoon the batter into the springform.
Place in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Bake until the edges are light brown and the top is light tan, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the cake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2 hours. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight or for at least 4 hours.
For the Tiramisu Syrup and Ladyfinger Layer:
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoon instant freeze-dried aspresso or coffee
¼ cup Rum
At least 22 ladyfingers (9 for the layering and 13 for the ring around the edge – I’m sure I used more, though.)
Make the tiramisu syrup. Combine the water and espresso in a small sauce-pan until dissolved. Add the sugar and Kahlua or Rum, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and let simmer, uncovered for 3 minutes, stirring a few times. Top the cold cheesecake (still in the pan) with a layer of ladyfingers,. Transfer the cake to the freezer until completely frozen, at least overnight and/or until ready to assemble.
For the Mascarpone Cream
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored granulated gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
1 1/2 cups cold heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp rum
One 8- to 10-ounce carton mascarpone cheese
When you're ready to assemble the cake, make the mascarpone cream. Place the gelatin in a heatproof measuring cup, stir in the cold water, and let stand until it swells and thickens. Cook in the microwave on high about 30 seconds or over a pan of simmering water for about 1 minute, until clear and completely melted. In a medium-size bowl, whip the cream with the mixer on high until it thickens and soft peaks just begin to form. With the mixer still running, add the sugar and beat just until the cream stands up in peaks (don't over-mix or the cream will curdle). Beat in the vanilla and rum. Add the melted gelatin all at once and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Gently fold in the mascarpone with a rubber spatula.
Remove the cake from the freezer and let it stand at room temperature about 10 minutes. Release and remove the sides of the springform, then remove the cheesecake from the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a cake plate. To attach the remaining ladyfingers (26 halves) to the outside of the cake, spread a thin layer of the mascarpone cream over the flat split sides of the ladyfingers. Stand them up around the edge of the cake, rounded-side out pressing each one gently in place. Spoon the remaining mascarpone on top of the cake and gently even out with a metal spatula; it will come up almost to the top of the ladyfingers. Since the cheesecake is still very cold, the mascarpone cream will set fast.
For The Topping:
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate made into Chocolate Curls
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
To decorate, cover the top of the cake with the chocolate curls, then sprinkle evenly with the cocoa. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until the mascarpone layer is cold and set and the cheesecake layer has defrosted enough to slice easily. Slice with a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover any leftover cake and refrigerate or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.