Cheesecake travesties

I’ve heard cheesecake can be tricky to make. Mom passed me down a recipe that for years I mastered for birthdays and special occasions. It was like my signature dish. I was soooo proud that out of all my cooking and baking fiascos, this was one I was able to rock.

Then I took a hiatus. I didn’t bake a cheesecake for years.

It must have been Thanksgiving 2003 because I was separated from my first husband and living at home with Mom, Dad and my sister Megan. Mom and Dad were planning a spectacular dinner for the whole family and Megan and I were tasked with dessert. Of course I turned to my trusted Cheesecake.

I followed Mom’s recipe to the letter.


I could tell this was going to be the best cheesecake evah! The crust came out beautifully. As we poured the batter into the pan, it was silky and smooth. Megan and I were going to be the queens of the ball! We preheated the oven, we baked, we timed. Everything was going splendid.

At the 65 minute mark, I took the cheesecake out and did the toothpick test.

You know…where you stick a toothpick into baked goods and if it comes out clean, it’s baked and if it comes out with stuff on it, you got a few more minutes to go (if you are raising your eyebrows at this point…keep reading).

Megan and I looked and thought it was weird that after following the recipe to the letter, the toothpick came out with stuff on it. Who are we to question the baking Gods; back in the oven the cheesecake went.

15 minutes later and another check and…weird…a cheesecake covered toothpick…more baking.

Megan and I must have repeated this process for 3 hours. We baked that cheesecake and then we baked it some more. We thought maybe the oven was broken?!

When Mom and Dad came home, I thought they were going to die of laughter. Of course, any one who is reading this who has any baking knowledge knows, you never do the toothpick test with cheesecake…it will always come out with stuff on it. DUH?!

My cheesecake master ego was shattered.

To their credit, the entire family choked down that super dry cheesecake. It was like eating dry, super-tasty chalk. We just smothered it in loads of Strawberry sauce (I don’t have Mom’s recipe but this one looks about right). God love family!

What’s your favorite cheesecake recipe? Have any baking fiasco stories to share? Or perhaps your friends and family have tortured you with terrible desserts? Come on…share the wealth…

More blog deliciousness here:

For the month of November and December, I am proud to be taking part in the Holiday Yum Blog Hop where a group of uber bloggers will regale you with recipes and funny cooking stories.

This week’s highlights:

  • December 17: Cheesecake travesties with yours truly
  • December 19: Jenny Hansen’s Holly Candy (OMG can’t WAIT)

Already Posted:

Stay tuned for:

  • December 23: Jess Witkins will entice us with either some comfort food or appetizer
  • December 26: Kathy Owen will come through with beef rib-eye roast with currant jelly brown gravy
  • December 28:  I will give you some fabulous Mocktail options for your New Year’s Eve parties

Be sure to check out our ever uberlicious host, Kathy Owen’s Holiday Yum page and leave her some blog hop luv!



  1. BARRY STEIN says:

    Happy holidays Natalie and Hubby!

    Thought u and Cowbells might want to do a blog on this site 😉

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Oh, Natalie, I wish I’d known you years ago when I was being human and making human mistakes. What a great story! One of my daughters once asked me, “How do you know things?” I told her I learned them from other people. Rock on, sistah!

    • If only Pauline…I am in dire need of lessons. LOL! Someday I will rock the kitchen and make it my bitch…I am determined. LOL.

      • The big secret is, everyone who rocks the kitchen learned from lots and lots of mistakes–then shared with others so they wouldn’t do same thing. You aren’t just rocking it, you’ve become the Obi-wan of cheesecake! Or the Sensai! Some day I will have to blog about my 90 days of ground deer meat, and my unfortunate encounter with some molasses. Yeah, not pretty. LOLOL!

        • OMG the Obi-wan of cheesecake…SENSAI…LOVE IT Pauline…LOL!! Trial and error, right?!

          I can’t WAIT to read about your 90 days of ground deer meat….and the molasses story!! ROFL!! I can’t wait! 🙂

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Nat. You may have saved me Cheesecake hell.

    I did not know the toothpick test doesn’t work with cheesecake. I’ve been be-bopping the net in hopes of finding a salted caramel cheesecake recipe.

    This will be the first cheesecake I’ve make that doesn’t involve a box of “No Bake” cheesecake.

    Oh! That handy link you gave us for the strawberry sauce? I think Santa’s trying to drag me over to the naughty side. One of the three “You might also like” options?

    Fresh Strawberry Pavlova — Cracking up Down Under

    If I’m the only one who thought that was suggestive, I’ll slink away to the naughty list without further incident.

    • My travesties are your wins Gloria. LOL! Glad I could help and save you from a similar demise. If you follow the recipe, you’ll have perfect cheesecake every time. Oh and a Graham cracker crust is delightful and uber easy.

      You aren’t the only one on the naughty list…there’s nothing like “suggestive” titles to capture my imagination. LOL!

      Let us know how you make on your cheesecake adventures. 🙂

    • DEFINITELY suggestive, Gloria…*if you know what I mean* 🙂

  4. LOLOLOL…stick a toothpick in cheesecake…you crack me up, Natalie! And there were TWO of you in on this.

    All kidding aside, the recipe looks delish. I’d never heard of baking something at 500, then 200, though – does the top get brown?

    Thanks for the fab contribution to the blog hop!

  5. As soon as I read “toothpick” I smiled and snickered. You silly!

    Happy holidays!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  6. Aw… I can empathize, Natalie. I’ve made some super easy, even healthy, cheesecakes if you’re seeking more recipes. Trust me, every cake-maker experiences travesties along the way. 🙂 You’re one cake closer to perfection!

  7. What a hoot! That thing with the toothpick? Sounds like something I would do. 🙂

  8. Love it! I was into making pecan pies years ago. And thought I had it down. Showed up to a Thanksgiving party with two pies and after dinner, I made the first cut with no one looking. Just to make sure all was good. To my horror, the filling was as runny as water! They were a complete bust! I’d been raving about them for months but since everyone was really sauced by this point, my ex and I snuck ’em out the back door. haha! No one ever noticed 😉 Whew!

  9. nice to know you’re human, my friend. I haven’t made cheesecake in years.

  10. I feel like this is a metaphor for life: “You know…where you stick a toothpick into baked goods and if it comes out clean, it’s baked and if it comes out with stuff on it, you got a few more minutes to go (if you are raising your eyebrows at this point…keep reading).” But I can’t quite figure out why that is… Thanks for sharing the story! I’m not much of a cook, but I feel like I’ve learned a thing or two that will help me. Happy holidays!

  11. Raani York says:

    Natalie, you just made my day, honestly! I am sitting here, still trying to dry my eyes from laughing tears. When I read “toothpick” test I was thinking: “Thank God I’m not the only one!” ROFL
    Welcome within the “Sand-cake-toothpick-cake-club”, girl!! LOL
    Happy Holidays!!

  12. That is WAY too funny! I kept reading, thinking ‘yeah, that’s what you do’. Um, duh! I would’ve been cooking the crap out of my cheescake, too. Now I will never, ever, ever make that mistake. Funnily enough, I’m making little cheesecake ‘presents’ tonight. What serendipitous timing!

    • Timing is everything, isn’t it?!

      It’s sooo good to know that I am not alone in my thinking…LOL!! And if I can save another from cheesecake disasters, my work here is complete. 🙂

  13. Too funny…but having never used anything but mixes, I’d probably have done the same thing with the toothpick. The worst dessert disaster for me didn’t involve baking. I’d invited some friends over and planned on ‘apple sundaes.’ I like to peel and dice apples, simmer them with some butter, sugar and cinnamon, then serve it warm over vanilla ice cream. Thank goodness I couldn’t resist a taste because, while I’d been LOOKING at the cinnamon, I actually wound up seasoning it with chili powder. Not quite the flavor I’d been expecting. Fortunately I had plenty of apples, so I made another batch…with the correct spice that time. 🙂

  14. Natalie – Love the cheesecake story. Tom makes a wonderful cheesecake and it was always requested when we lived back east and going to big author parties wherein lots of press would be available, etc. After seeing the platter licked once too often, Tom delcared enough was enough. He wasn’t putting up with one more licked crystal cake stand. It was a testimate to his baking skills, but Tom said they’d have to look elsewhere for cheesecake!


  1. […] December 17: Natalie Hartford’s recipe for Cheesecake […]

  2. […] last night to pick up some foodies for over the holiday season (cause y’all know what happens when I bake). For me, there is nothing funner than shopping for yummy treats and tasties for the holiday […]

  3. […] Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until center is almost set. (Do NOT enter a toothpick into center to check for doneness like Natalie Hartford or you’ll have a cheesecake travesty). […]

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