I have never particularly liked cheesecake. Strangely, in fact, since I LOVE cheese. Something about the cream cheese tartness and the texture has just never appealed to me. But I know how decadent and wonderful a dessert it is for those who enjoy it.

My husband’s birthday was earlier this month and he is definitely one of the cheesecake-appreciating folk. So, I decided I would make a cheesecake! The first attempt would, of course, be pretty basic. Plain vanilla cheesecake, graham cracker crust, chocolate, caramel, marionberry toppings and whipped cream.

Lo and behold, it turned out great! After reading through a multitude of online recipes, which seemed to be too similar to choose from, but not exactly the same, I ended up putting all the recipes away and winging it. I think that with a few specific techniques, the actual recipe/ingredients are pretty flexible. It also helps that I have pretty low expectations for my “first-time” baking experiments. I even enjoyed a slice, with all the toppings.

First cheesecake ever!

With that success under my belt, I’m starting to feel pretty good. A friend of mine has gone through a medical event recently and I figured I’d use this as a reason to try again, maybe with a flavored version. Extra wrinkle, my friend is gluten-free. I got my 4 4″ mini springform pans and went to town on a Mexican mocha cheesecake.

Starting with some GF animal crackers for the crust, I am not super confident in how the crust turned out, but I think I’ve made up for it with the amazing filling. And who doesn’t want a free cheesecake?

So, Mexican mocha flavor… espresso, cocoa, cinnamon and a teeny, tiny speck of cayenne.

Before they went into the oven.

No word yet on how they taste, but I have high hopes.

I’ll be taking suggestions for future flavor ideas for the winter. I expect to be making cheesecake for the next few months. Lucky friends of mine who are local may find themselves with a gift of cheesecake on their doorstep over the next few months.

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