Hey! Do you know what day it is? Sure, it’s Saturday — but we’re also hot on the heels of both National Cheesecake Day and the equally cheesy International Friendship Day. We couldn’t possibly yoke the profundity of friendship to a single date, but isn’t it fitting that it shares a calendar square with the dessert to beat all desserts? Both are sweet experiences, if a little wobbly, a little zingy and, when handled carelessly, both hold the makings of a cold mess. As Oscar Wilde once quipped: “A good friend will always stab you in the front.”
As for cake, well, we’ve got Queen Marie Antoinette’s blessing for that. So call up your cake-loving friends — the ones brave enough to embrace their fear of fallouts and calories — and celebrate with our binge-n-watch recommendations.
As far as female friendship flicks go, it doesn’t get much wilder than ’90s roadtrip drama Thelma & Louise, starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. The landmark feminist film swept to critical and commercial success — raising some eyebrows along the way — by veering away from the cake-mix predictability of many girl squad movies. In the 30 years since it has developed into something of a reference point for girlfriends raising the roof. Maybe you don’t want to imitate their brush with the law or the “cliffhanger” ending, but what friends haven’t dreamed of hitting the road, commitment-free?
2. From Kenya, Without Gluten
The Great Kenyan Bake Off, a spinoff of the beloved British show, is a feast for the senses and will leave you salivating. Twelve amateur bakers battle it out, inventing East African creations like Ugali cake or “Kenyapolitan” pizza. Not to mention classics like pavlova and gâteau fraisier au citron, or lemon strawberry cake. A major win for the gluten-intolerant arrives in week 8, bringing some innovative cheesecakes with a twist on the traditional cookie base. Think New York cheesecake with a fruit compote and a dulce de leche creation with a coconut-flour brownie base.Get ready to feel inspired while watching these passionate contestants whisk away under the watchful eyes ofjudges Kiran Jethwa and Myra Kivuvani Ndung’u. On your marks, get set, bake!
3. The One With All the Cheesecakes
Don’t fancy emulating Thelma & Louise, but not above co-conspiring to commit milder crimes to baptize your bond? Then here’s something for you and your fellow epicurean. Something with “a buttery, crumbly, graham cracker crust, with a very rich yet light, cream cheese filling…,” in the words of Friends’ Rachel Green. The episode seesRachel and co-friend Chandler steal their neighbor’s cheesecake — twice. Want to whip up what Rachel dubbed “the best cheesecake” she’s ever had? Try this Stolen Cheesecake recipe, worked out by meal kit company Gousto. Go ahead, lick it clean. But maybe not off the floor.
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Have you ever thought about who the first friends on Earth were? Before our 21st-century notion of #friendshipgoals, friendship likelystarted out as an act of survival-driven cooperation between our cave-dwelling ancestors. These days, we don’t need friends to ensure we don’t get clubbed in the head or have our dinner snatched, but survival doesn’t end there. If to survive means to thrive, emotionally and creatively, then we still need these social bonds. Studies say friendships are vital for well-being. Even maudlin Eeyore, in the Winnie-the-Pooh books, says: “After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday.”
2. Animal Magnetism
The internet has enough dog-sheep,sheep-mongoose, and meerkat-lion-hyena(that escalated quickly!) videos to dispel any misconception that only humans can experience the joys of friendship. Playful feuds, camaraderie, and sometimes a sense of responsibility, exist not only within a species but across species as well. Under special circumstances, such bonds can even extend to predators and prey, like the aforementioned lions and meerkats. Animals can share deep and long-lasting bonds and have been known to grieve after losing a cherished companion. There have even been petitions started to stop the separation of furry BFFs in captivity to prevent feelings of loneliness.
3. Rent-a-Friend in Japan
Modern day loneliness comes with modern day cures. But one Japanese solution might not be for everybody. In busy Tokyo, where people work long office hours, you can rent a friend — for a plethora of purposes. We’re not talking about hot liaisons, simply companionship — or at least the appearance of it. Your rented friend could just be someone to slurp ramen with or a plus-one for a family gathering. If the actor is unlucky, they might even get invited to a funeral. Miyabi,a professional friend, speaks about a gig where she’s been paid to pose for photos with a high-schooler, just to up his Instagram cred. A host of kitschy remedies for the lonely, such ascuddle cafes,purring cat pillowsand (real)rentable catsare also big in the Asian metropolis.
If there’s one thing richer than cheesecake, it’s its own history. An early version of the classic dessert is believed by historians to have been popular in ancient Greece. There isevidence that a creation of flour, wheat, honey and cheese was a wedding treat, and also served as an energy booster for early Olympic athletes. Over time, cheesecake must have been pilfered by Roman conquerors, since one of the oldest surviving recipes of the dessert dates back to 160 B.C. Identified by the dodgy-sounding name of placenta, meaning “flat cake” in Latin, the dessert can be considered the great-great-great-grandmama of our modern-day cheesecake. With Roman expansion, it arrived in Europe, where it was appropriated by the British and French. Much later it received the game-changing American addition of cream cheese, and many creditArnold Reuben, a German Jewish restaurant owner, with the creation of the now-iconic New York cheesecake in 1929.
2. Something for Everyone
The cheesecake is nothing if not versatile. With almost 4,000 years of history, it offers something foreveryone: classic cheesecake, which is fluffier with less tang; the smooth-bodied, no-bake variety (my trusted ally); and ricotta cheesecake, which is gritty, grainy and unpretentious. Then there’s New York style, of course, with its characteristic richness. But it’snot just the Big Applethat’s tried to broaden our cheesecake palate. Chicago favors sour cream, and if you're heading to the city of brotherly love, forget Philly cheesesteaks — try some Philly cheesecakes for a light and airy mouthful. Similarly delicate, the Japanese “angel food” or “soufflé” cheesecake is a jiggly affair that can feel like sour wisps of cloud in your mouth. German (enter quark cheese), vegan, and even specialty savory versions with blue cheese and a hint of chili exist. Plus there’s a glut of bases and flavors.
3. Bucket List Beauts
A map of must-eat cheesecakes around the globe will have you hopping continents. As international borders vacillate between open and closed depending on the pandemic, you can still say yes to these drool-worthy stops around America. In the warmly lit wooden embrace of Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage,Alaska, you can enjoy a Creamsicle Cheesecake with white chocolate and orange caramel sauce. InNYC, Eileen’s Special Cheesecake is an institution, with an abundance of flavors you will not want to miss. And Sundae Cafe at Tybee inGeorgiawill boggle your mind with its fearless medley of crab, shrimp, gouda, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar! Head over to The Dessert Lab inCalifornia, where cheesecake flavor experiments including bacon, French toast, rose and saffron add moxie to the menu every day. Plan on hitting the road to sample some of the best America has to offer? Here’s acheesecake playlistas lovely as the dessert itself.
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If you want to convince your lazy friend to hang out, promise them a homemade cheesecake. This nonstick springform panwill ensure that your cake is set to creamy perfection sans creaks and leaks.
2. But Bake in Style
Or maybe you fancy a friendly bake-off instead? Surprise your guest with thissuave black apronwith a star (for aren’t they one?) — a little memento from your weekend of calorie-rich competition.
3. Tick Tock Trend
Is your friend always lagging behind, showing up to movies or brunch unfashionably late? This helpful reminder to be on time is the perfect cheeky gift. Yes, they might scowl and protest at first, but not after they’ve taken a closer look at this gorgeous, water-resistant, stainless steel watch, with a black silicone strap and a deep blue heart.