key lime cheesecake

More illegal alcohol activity. Hard to believe that decent ordinarily law abiding citizens are still being reduced to criminals by outdated post-prohibition laws that directly oppose the will of the people without safeguarding minority rights or protecting the public welfare. This time we were south of the border, not just across the Delaware state line where Big Liquor tries to lure the Pennsylvania citizenry with its wide selection and low priced specials, but way south to Catonsville in the Baltimore burbs for in-law socializing. No longer known by many as the location for certain Vietnam war era anti-draft activities of the Berrigan brother priests, it does have a phenomenal Korean supermarket with more strange looking fresh cheap produce than most Americans have seen during their entire lives. Across the street is an ordinary run of the mill looking liquor store. bob goes along for the ride, but spots two interesting cream liquors as well as the Paul Masson chocolate hazelnut cream liqueur we'd given to a chocoholic friend for Christmas, immediately discontinued by the PA LCB afterwards. All three followed bob home to the Philly burbs. Illegally. Not quite like Robert Mitchum in that classic rum running movie of the previous mid-century, but a product of the same social insanity.

The strawberry cream and key lime cream liqueurs are retained for new dessert flavor potential. It's been decades since the last strawberry cream liqueur recipe and key lime remained to yet experiment with. Tasting the former recalls distant memories, good ones. The latter immediately recalls limoncello with an edge, kicked up a notch so to speak, and therefore suggests following in its footsteps as a cheesecake ingredient. The green color associated with key limes suggested switching the nut from hazelnut to pistachio, an ani favorite. And then just before the Thanksgiving dessert experimentation, we spotted pistachio cream right next to the Nutella at Carlino's Market, imported from Sicily. Not knowing exactly what it was, it seemed like a good idea nevertheless to work into the mix. Thinking it was more like Nutella, it seemed appropriate to somehow marble into the batter or perhaps a thin layer above a normal crust to imbed pistachio crumbs in before covering with the batter. But it turned out to be more like overly sweetened peanut butter. Butter...the glue for crust, so we used it to replace the butter (and the sugar since it was already very sweet). It makes a nice green crust, but it remains largely out of sight. It does contribute a slight twist to the usual flavor expectations, which is good. On the other hand this pistachio cream was 17 bucks for a little 8 oz jar of the stuff, with unlikely chances of spreading across America like wildfire. It can be substituted by just butter.

This too was enjoyed by the Thanksgiving crowd. Another successful experiment in  dessert modification.

ingredients (half recipe)

1/4 c pistachio cream (or 4 T butter = 1/2 stick = 1/8 lb)
1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c ground pistachios
1 lb cream cheese (2 8oz packages)
3/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
2 T flour
4 T = 1/4 c key lime cream liqueur
2 large eggs
1 c sour cream
2 T sugar
1/2 t key lime cream liqueur
1 T ground pistachios


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Get your 8 or  9 inch spring-form pan out of the closet or cabinet or where ever you hide it. Trace out the bottom on parchment paper and cut it out and insert in the bottom of the assembled pan.
  2. Crumb up your fresh shelled pistachios with some sort of electric or mechanical kitchen device, like a hand blender with an attachment.
  3. Soften up the pistachio cream in the microwave (after mixing the oil back in---it separates like some other more familiar nut butters) or melt the butter if you go the substitute route.
  4. Patiently work the still very viscous pistachio cream into the mixed graham and pistachio crumbs. Eventually it will uniformly coat the crumbs.
  5. Press into the bottom of the pan and refrigerate.
  6. Mix the (room temp if possible) cream cheese and sugar with electric beaters or a kitchen mixer until "fluffy". Then toss in the rest of the stuff, adding the eggs one step at a time beating slowly to incorporate them last.
  7. Get out the cheesecake pan with the crust and pour in the batter, evening out the top surface.
  8. Back about 1 hour and then watch until the top surface turns a nice golden brown, maybe an hour and 10 minutes depending on your oven.
  9. Remove for 10 to 15 minutes while the bloated and cracked top surface settles back down leaving a slightly raised rim from contact with the side of the pan.
  10. Meanwhile mix together the sour cream sugar and liqueur with a spatula briefly and at the end of this cooling down period, dump it in the center of the cake slowly convincing it to even out towards the sides but leaving at least a 1/2 inch rim exposed for aesthetic reasons.
  11. Reinsert into the oven for another 10 to 12 minutes to set up the sour cream topping.
  12. Remove and let cook on a rack, then chill in the fridge at least one day before use. Okay, in emergencies 4 hours will do.


  1. 1968. The Catonsville 9 event. Draft records are destroyed in a gesture against the Vietnam war by Jesuit priests Philip and Daniel Berrigan and 7 others. Later members of the Plowshares 8 in another precedent setting action in our own neighborhood at the nuclear warhead center at the then GE Corporation ("we bring good things to life", which later sold off the weapons division after a long consumer boycott by peace activists) in King of Prussia in back of the world famous shopping mall.
  2. Han Ah Reum, 800 N. Rolling Rd, Catonsville, MD 21228. Must be seen to be believed. A true testament to the good things ethnic groups contribute to American life.
  3. Thunder Road (1958) starring Robert Mitchum about a Korean war vet who comes home to take over the family moonshine business and drives a fast car to transport the booze.
  4. KK Beach key lime cream liqueur from McCormick Distilling: key lime pie in a glass according to a reviewer, "Taste the creamy flavor of key lime pie, with just a hint of graham" according to the manufacturer. Apparently available in PA for the moment, but we won't believe it till we see it.
  5. Paul Masson Cream Liqueurs: chocolate hazelnut and mocha caramel. We'd picked up both at Christmas in the PA State system, but then it disappeared, never to return.
  6. Pistachio cream. Imported from Sicily by Purely Organic. Organic pistachios and organic raw cane sugar and nothing else. "A unique ingredient in premium pistachio ice cream. Use as a filling in pastries or as a nut butter spread."
  7. Tequila Rose. Strawberry flavored cream liqueur and Tequila. Also from McCormick Distilling.
    tiramisu twist.
    The anecdote. We simultaneously made a tiramisu as our entry into the 2005 Thanksgiving dessert competition. And replaced the liqueur component in the recipe by 4 T of the strawberry cream liqueur in the batter. It turned out to be a pleasant variation that we will repeat. However, we did run into a bit of a glitch with absentminded dual recipe multitasking. The mascarpone and sugar fluffed up nicely on its own in the kitchen mixer running on autopilot, but then we waited too long to pull out the cooling zabaione cream from the freezer and it was well on its way to solidifying though still as viscous as thick mud. Then letting the kitchen mixer go unsupervised with the two unfriendly components together was a big mistake, but not fatal. The mascarpone-zabaione mixture "broke", turning into a lumpy mess with the liquids separated out. Could kitchen inventiveness save the day? The initial attempt with electric beaters did not seem to improve the situation, so the French chinois (conical sieve) came to mind. We gave it a try but the mixture was too thick to pass. Plan B. Insist with the electric beaters on full speed. Persistence paid off. It wasn't silky smooth, in fact it was kind of lumpy but at least no longer grainy. Once assembled no one will know the difference. And they didn't. It hit the spot. Strawberry is a natural complementary flavor for chocolate and coffee.
  8. Illustrations available. Although these variations tend to all look the same...
kelichck.htm: 21-nov-2006 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]