We’ve lost Betty White. A woman who gave us 99 years, yet we could all swear that wasn’t nearly enough. She was a consummate professional and a witty comedian with famously flawless timing. She was her own woman who divorced a man in the 1940s who wasn’t supportive of her having a career. In the 1950s, she stood up to her network and stood up for a Black dancer. She was told to take him off the show or face cancellation. She gave him more air time. She was a lifelong protector of animals and a lovely and loving advocate and ally of LGBTQ+ persons. In short, she was exactly the kind of friend we all wish for and aspire to be.
Betty White played a bevvy of great characters. My favorite was Sue Ann Nivens on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.” As the Happy Homemaker, her words sounded like honey and her smile looked innocent. Man oh man, was that hiding her cutting spirit and maneating ways. I think we can all agree Florence Dusty had us all laughing so hard our eyes filled with tears when she appeared on SNL’s “Delicious Dish” to discuss the decadence of her famous dusty muffin.
But, without a doubt, the role she will always be best known and most celebrated for will be the lovably naive and undeniably kind-hearted Golden Girl, Rose Nylund. Ditzy, sure, but no fool and also as sweet as a person could possibly be. When she sat down for cheesecake and coffee with Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia, her smile was always genuine. Far more than the other three, she seemed to really want to hear how her friends were doing and what was happening in their life. If the cheesecake and forks were out, someone needed love and Rose was there.
I’m not quite ready for Shady Pines, but I’m plenty old enough to realize just how fortunate I am to have the most incredible friends. Since the age of 18, my college friends have been my chosen family. We’ve gone through school, jobs, moving, weddings, break ups, divorces, babies, and parent illness and passing. We’ve grown up together. I’ve also got two ladies, one of whom I met when I taught her son, who have become friends in my adulthood. We cry, we laugh, we drink wine, and we process life’s complexities. We ask each other the tough questions, hold each other up in the tough times, and celebrate each other in the good ones. Then there’s my high school girls. The ones I’ve reconnected with during the pandemic. The ones who talk true crime all day long and share the greatest, most hilarious, irreverent, inappropriate memes. The ones who build each other up like only those who graduated from all-girls high school can, who reassure each other fiercely, and who gather ’round with the force of a Shakespearean coven. The ones who’ve dubbed our group the Golden Girl Caftan Club.
Julie, Meg, Marissa, Stephanie, Anna, Melissa, Kristin, Shana, Adrienne, Colleen, Erika, Marla, and Denice–thank you for being a friend. Betty, thank you for showing us how. Thank you for showing us how to give our strength when others need it and how to speak up when our voice is needed. Thank you for showing us it’s okay to cry, but it’s even better to laugh. Thank you for showing us kindness is always an option. Ladies, this cheesecake’s for each of you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a friend.
Creamy, dreamy individual mini cheesecakes are made for sharing with those you love. After all, friends, just like dessert, are what make like so beautifully sweet.
Individual Mini Cheesecakes
For the graham cracker crust:
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
3 TBSP granulated sugar
3 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake filling:
16 oz. brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 c. sour cream, room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
- To make the crust, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and mix until all of the crumbs are moistened. Evenly distribute the mixture between all 12 liners and use a small, clean glass or measuring cup to firmly press crumbs down into one even layer.
- Bake at 325° F for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Keep oven temperature at 325° F.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and sour cream together until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Mix in the eggs, one at a time, on low speed until just combined.
Evenly distribute the batter between all 12 liners in the cupcake pan, filling each one almost all the way to the top. I used a standard sized spring-loaded scoop.
Bake at 325°F for 20 minutes or until the tops of the cheesecakes are set.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 1 hour. Carefully remove from the pan and chill in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight. Completely cooled cheesecakes may also be frozen in an airtight container up to three months.
yield: 12 individual cheesecakes