This cake is dedicated to Coco: the very short lived gay latin house boy from the Golden Girls pilot. He unfortunately got the axe when it was decided to bring Sophia into the cast. Gone but not forgotten, Coco; This cheesecake is for you.
Like many young gays of the 80s and 90s, Golden Girls was the first show I watched incessantly with my grandma. We’d only stop if Unsolved Mysteries was on, or *god willing* The Karen Carpenter Story. However, more often than not we would settle for the 4 single gals of a golden age on the lanai. With enough fabric to circle the earth 7 times, the fashion of these ladies set a standard of excellence in my young wide gay eyes. Certainly something both me and my grandma could enjoy.
Susan Harris, creator of the show, did the remarkable. She created a wildly popular primetime show in the 80s that centered solely around the lives of older women. This is something hardly done today, let alone 30+ year ago. Amazing by itself, but she used these characters as a way to send messages and educate its audience in a way that might not have been accepted if it weren’t shrouded in a white wig with a permanent.
One episode in particular (72 Hours, 1990), Rose fears that a blood transfusion she had years ago may have contained HIV-infected blood. For context, in 1984, teenager Ryan White contracted AIDS through a tainted hemophilia treatment. People were wildly uneducated about AIDS then and the fear of getting was high. It wasn’t until August of 1990 that the Ryan White CARE act was enacted, which is the largest federally funded US program for people living with HIV/AIDS. This was signed into action just months after the airing of 72 Hours, but also YEARS after Reagan uttered the words AIDS/HIV in public. It’s still in effect.
There were a number of episodes that featured gay characters, but I think what made Golden Girls such a favorite show among the LGBT+ community is that it’s about a chosen family and not a biological one. With the exception of Dorothy and Sophia, these women chose to live together and support each other…for 7 SEASONS! That’s commitment!
Thank y’all for being a friend. Let’s make a cheesecake!
Citrus Cheesecake with Orange Walnut Crust
ORANGE WALNUT CRUST
zest of 1 orange
1.5 cups of walnuts
1/4 cup of sugar
4 tbs butter, melted
4 eight ounce cream cheese packages, room temperature
1.25 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of cornstarch
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbs of vanilla extract
2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream
zest of orange, lemon, and lime
SOUR CREAM TOP
1 pint of sour cream
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
zest of orange
Gel food coloring
Preheat oven to 350F. Toast walnuts on the stove for a few minutes, just so you can start to smell them. Pulse together walnuts, orange, and sugar in a food processor and slowly add the melted butter. Once combined, press evenly on to a 9” springform pan and bake for 7 minutes.
When cooled a bit, wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in aluminum foil because this will need to bake in a water bath.
Combine 1 cream cheese package with the cornstarch and some of the sugar for about 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and blend in remaining cream cheese. Then add remaining sugar, vanilla, and citrus zests. With mixer on medium low, add eggs one at a time and then finish with the heavy cream. Biggest tip for all cheesecakes: do not over mix! You’ll put too much air in the batter, causing it to crack.
Next, measure out the batter in 4 separate bowls, leaving one it’s natural white color. Feel free to dye them whatever color you want, but I chose pastels to honor the Golden Girls and the 80s. Add each in layers, and gently smooth each layer with a small palette knife.
Find a pan large enough to hold the spring form pan and add half way with room temperature water. Place the cheesecake inside and bake for 1 hour!
While baking, combine all ingredients for the sour cream top. Once the cheesecake is done, gently pour the sour cream over the cheesecake and put it back in the over for 8 minutes just to set. Once done, turn off the oven and open the door and DON’T TOUCH IT! DON’T EVEN LOOK AT IT! Walk away! Go outside! Call your mother!
After a few hours, wrap it up and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
You may want to stop here and call it a day! And that’s totally fine, but if you want to do a design on the top, transfer the cake into the freezer for 1.5-2 hours. Once it’s somewhat frozen, use your gel food colorings to paint whatever you want.
Most importantly, find your best pals to share a slice with in your nighties.