Thursday, March 22, 2018

It's You. Every Reason, Every Hope, Every Dream I've Ever Had. (Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust Cheesecake)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust Cheesecake
It has been an inordinately long stretch since my last post, but I've spent many days too deliriously happy to put pen to paper (....err, finger to keyboard?).

My life has become so rich, so purposeful, so perfect. These moments; flawless, unspoiled, and yet strangely familiar, are the ones I will project in my mind when I am wistful for the simplicity of this time. That's right, I'm already nostalgic for days that have yet to pass.

It's hard to believe that after nearly a decade of confusion and smarting emotional pains, I've made it to the place I always wanted to be.

In the past couple years, I have learned to outlast seemingly crippling setbacks. The non-sequitur nature of pain has helped me understand that certain ornamental pieces in your life, are just that, decoration. Ornate and beautiful, but uncompromisingly rigid, and frankly, unnecessary. I've let certain pieces lie where they fell, and am more joyful for it.

I arrive to the third decade of my life surprisingly naive, less jaded than I was years ago, a young ingenue ready to Benjamin Button her emotions. I suppose it is the unintended consequence of finding someone who makes you see the world with a brand new heart.

Such amorous feelings can only be matched by an equally amorous couple. Thus, I introduce the story of Chris and Shaila. These two lovebirds managed to get engaged in the week I was working on their love profile! A huge congrats to them and so many prayers and blessings for a happy future together.

Chris and Shaila: A Love Profile 

The first picture these two ever took, on the night of their introduction!

1. How did you two meet?

Ironically, we actually met through your boyfriend, Nate, at a cookie swap holiday party! Since you’re most likely asking what that even means, it’s a potluck-esque party where you bring either cookies or alcohol and mingle for the holiday season! Chris attended the party with Nate and Shaila--well, she was actually in top form--she had on a Winnie the Pooh backpack and a penguin onesie, intending to drop by for a short time before moving on to Flash. It quickly became apparent that neither of us was content with polite small talk, allowing us to cover more emotional topography with our conversation than either of us was honestly prepared for.

As the night dwindled down, Shaila began making her rounds of goodbyes.. Chris, not wanting the night to end, insisted that she join him and Nate for a casual after-party at….iHop. Good ol’, 24-hour iHop. After some light cajoling, Shai agreed- arguably the best decision she made of 2016! The rest is history (in the making)

2. You became pretty serious pretty quickly, did you think each other was the one or did you think it would be a fling?

Here’s a fun little story from the second time we ever hung out. The pair of us went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Shaila’s insistence. Though we started off self-consciously satelliting one another through the exhibits, we quickly relapsed into the strange familiarity we’d forged that first night. Following the excursion, we went out to dinner at a small Chinese restaurant and grabbed bubble tea. Long story short, we found out that Chris thought the night was a date while Shaila was under the impression they were just hanging out as friends. At the time, she was in the tail-end of a failing relationship and Chris had recently broken up with a long-term girlfriend, so the calibration of what to expect from one another was definitely slightly off.

That being said, neither of us ever thought this was a fling. Being somewhat cynical, we found the concept of “the one” to be unrealistic. However, from the moment we met another, it was like our old lives had fragmented and we were left with this new, shiny thing to grow into. It took patience, communication, and humility to come to the conclusion that we were ape-shit crazy for one another and that we didn’t really have a say in how strongly this swept us off our feet.

3. What sets you apart from other couples?

Chris: I think it’s a complete and utter transparency between the two of us. That doesn’t just mean the important things or big details. It’s little details that you never had to tell someone else, but find yourself spilling to one another regularly. It’s the difficult and messy conflicts that don’t end neatly but have to be had. It’s never the easiest route, but it gives us a sense of stability we would otherwise not have.

Shaila: I think he summed it up pretty perfectly. I’ve also got to say that for us, it’s our willingness to work to determine where our compromise thresholds lie. We understand just how important this relationship is and what is worth giving up and what is uncompromising. It is a dynamic part of our relationship that gives me a sense of certainty that we won’t lose ourselves in the name of love.

4. What did your past relationships teach you that made you realize your each other was the right person?

Chris: It’s almost like Goldilocks, but with a support system. With my first serious girlfriend, she didn’t provide a sense of support while simultaneously making me feel as though I had to change every aspect of myself to be worth her time. In my other relationship, it was the polar opposite, where the support I was given was such that I never felt challenged to better myself. WIth Shai, she supports my growth without coddling me.

Shaila: I was in a relationship throughout high school and college. In that time, my partner suffered a family tragedy and I threw myself into helping them and fixing them which, unsurprisingly, ruined the relationship and my own mental health for years. What is so valuable to me about Chris is that he pushes me to be open about when I’m overwhelmed, frustrated, or just generally upset. By giving me a space to feel openly and honestly, he allows me to equal parts focus on this relationship and myself.

5. What advice do you have for people who are struggling to find the right person in this crazy modern dating world?

Chris: My advice would be, essentially, don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. There are certain incompatibilities that won’t go away with time and you’ve got to know when to step away from something that is...good enough.

Shaila: Self love is non-negotiable. The relationship is a complement to that journey-not the other way around.

Introducing the newly engaged coupled!!!

For Chris and Shaila I decided to make a very special cookie recipe since it's such an integral part of their meeting. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust Cheesecake
Serves 2 (or 1, I'm not judging)

Cookie Crust Ingredients 
3 Tbspn butter softened
1/4 Cup plus 2 tblspn brown sugar
1 Egg yolk
1/2 Tsp vanilla
1/2 Cup flour
1/8 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp baking soda
1/3 Cup chocolate chunks (I roughly chop three baking chocolate squares)

Cheesecake Batter
4 oz Cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 Cup sugar
1 Tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
1/2 Egg, Beaten

Preheat oven to 325 F

1. Thoroughly mix butter and sugar together

2. Add egg yolk and vanilla, mix together

Sprinkle it all over
3. Sprinkle all dry ingredients over top of mixture, stir until incorporated

4. Fold in chocolate chunks

5. Press cookie dough into three inch cookie cutter and cover in foil, make small cookies for decoration with the leftover dough.  Bake for 11 to 13 mins

6. Beat together lemon juice, sugar, and room temperature cream cheese until fully incorporated
7. Add egg and vanilla and blend together

8. Retrieve the cooled cookie crust, and slowly pour in cream cheese mixture
9 . Increase oven temperature to 350 F

10. Bake cheesecake for 25 to 30 minutes and allow to cool in the oven, before cooling in fridge for at least 4 hours
11. Decorate with mini cookies, whip cream, or frosting!

Such a yummy treat for two!

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