Happy Greek Easter: On Resurrecting a Recipe Falling Flat

Or how an online recipe is getting renamed: Balloon Cheesecake and the path taken to arrive at it.

Greek Easter is often "off" from American Easter and is typically the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Jewish Passover,” I thought it might be fun to bring something to my friend's home and the later cook-out that acknowleged the holiday. And because I really miss my family, I wanted, really, really wanted to make Easter bread. I was going to start my eggs yesterday morning (all our eggs are dyed red to honor the blood of Christ) and so I called Headquarters: Ms. Mamacakes. Ms. Mamacakes is nothing shy of a kitchen wizard so when I said: "I'm thinking of making tsoureki" and her voice dimmed. (M.C. is the ever-perky voice, but when something troubles her, the overcast skies in her vocal heaven are really obvious.)  "Tsoureki?" Let me tell you about tsoureki..." She proceeded to describe several flops and a success or two in the line-up of her attempts at the bread. That would have been daunting enough, but I was making it on a deadline and for two different households. We agreed to wait until we could share a kitchen and make it a goal to knock this bread out of the Easter park. (And in the meanwhile, I will drop by Penzey's and pick up some mahlepi.)  So I decided to make life a little easier on myself. I was, after all, bringing a big Greek salad, preparing the week's plate of my favorite veggie casserole, invented, perfected, during my student-days).  So I went online recipe-shopping for something super-simple and something I could prepare for two deliveries. I found this recipe and well, found it strange, if not downright lacking. 

It looked easy and because I was in a hurry, I didn't pay close attention. But because I was in silly mood, I went shopping with curiosity in tow.  That meant buying two products just to try them out some time. 

 And:

The recipe looked...strange when I came home with 24 oz. of cream cheese and six boxes of pudding. These nervous moments in baking have often started with a sigh, so I strapped on my creativity apron and an open-mind.  I had already decided that a graham cracker crust would be more interesting and so I was armed with one in chocolate and one standard. As I began mixing the pudding/cream cheese mixture by hand as I am fond of doing, I quickly deduced that the electric mixer needed to  come out, (and I admit to coveting Kathrine aka Sweetcakes' beloved Caramella, that coppery goddess). The mix felt light, balloony and well, voluminous, I was already suspecting that my one batch would cover both pies, so slashed the second set of ingredients as I recorded my adjusted-recipe. To the mix, I added pure vanilla and about a cup of the dulce de leche:

On the graham cracker crust, I spread a layer of the dulce de leche and then a layer of whipped topping with just some extra vanilla extract.  Then the cream cheese/whipped topping/dulce de leche layer and a layer of whipped topping with a dash of rum extract on top and a sprinkle of chopped pecans:

For the chocolate crust, I did the same, but no layer of dulce de leche, instead I put a button of Nutella and spread it thin, thin. Next, a layer of lightly-flavored whipped topping (choc. marshmallow) the cream cheesecakey layer, then a layer of the lightly-flavored choc. raspberry and topped-off with a sprinkle of that Trader Joe's Chocolate/Sugar/Coffee mix.

The verdict?  Well, the flavorings are cheap and fun to have on hand and I imagine their frosting-shading possibilities are endless. I kept it subtle in my pies, because there were so many flavors going on that I wanted coordinates or harmony, not mask nor collision. I had enough mix left for another small pie, so I still don't know what  is going on with that recipe. But it was fun to improvise. Happy Greek Easter!

Oh, and in the tradition of our poem-a-day, today's prompt asked that we use these five words:

slash, button, mask, strap, and balloon.