We lived across the road from a lake in our early childhood. Any opportunity and we were in the water, flicking mud in each other's eyes and painting "dork" on our sister's back in sunscreen. OK, so maybe that was Police Academy, but we did spend far too long in that lake.
Mum spent a lot of her time bribing us to get our homework done or keep up with our chores. Ha! Chores! I make it sound like we were four little chimney-sweeps, toiling away in the hot Mallee sun with cardboard sandals and newspaper for bedsheets. Really all we had to do was pick up our clothes and do the dishes every so often. Do you think we could wrap our feeble brains around that?
So the bribes that worked in our house were pretty simple: television, food or the lake. No swims until all homework was done. That way if Mark was faffing about with his Matchbox cars, he knew he'd cop it from the rest of us for lake-blocking (a more age-appropriate and less sexy version of cock-blocking). No dessert until your dinner plate was clean, which instilled a healthy appetite (read: crazy overeating) from that point on. And of course, no telly until the dishes are done. Pretty effective, that one.
So I've pulled a few tricks from the Pauline Bennetto Playbook of Discipline and Motivation. I knew we had a big couple of days at work and needed something to get the team going, and reward them for their hard work. The team nominated cheesecake as their motivator of choice. Bless their cotton socks.
I raced home Wednesday night and whipped up this treat for the guys. It took most of the night but wasn't really too much of an effort. All the effort was expended getting it to work. First up it was hanging in a plastic bag from my handlebars. It sailed through the air and was kicked a few times by my nobbly knees. I ended up balancing it on top of my basket around 6km to work before disaster struck.
I told the story to my colleagues: "Gee, I feel like I've lost loads of weight, I can feel the road beneath my seat." I look down and realise my back tire is flat. Still plenty of padding on my backside, though.
Once I served up the cheesecake, I made the demand. No cake until at least one piece of work was completed by each person. I can't say I was disappointed when they each chose the simplest pieces of work and knocked them over in 5 minutes. Very Bennetto-esque indeed.
100g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cream
500g cream cheese
1 tbsp cornflour
juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
400g sour cream
1 green pear
1 stick cinnamon
2 star anise
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 cup chocolate pieces
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp glucose
2 tbsp caster sugar
To make the pastry base, preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined well and add the egg yolk and cream. Mix until the yolk is incorporated and add the flour. Pulse briefly until just combined. Turn out onto a floured bench. Knead briefly to bring together. Roll until around 4mm thick. Cut around the base of a springform pan and roll across. Bake for around 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
To make the cheese filling, reduce the heat in the oven to 170ºC. Mix the cream cheese and sugar on high until light and creamy. Add the cornflour and mix again until combined. Add the eggs one at a time until each is incorporated well. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and mix briefly. Add the sour cream and whip until combined. Pour into the springform pan on top of the pastry base and bake for around 1 hour or until just wobbly in the centre. Turn off oven and leave for around 30 minutes.
To poach the pear, combine the cinnamon, sugar, water and star anise in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the pear and cover with lid. Poach for around 20 minutes or until pear is cooked through.
To make the chocolate sauce, combine all the remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over a low heat, stirring regularly. Sauce is complete when chocolate has just melted.
To serve, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan. Top with lukewarm chocolate sauce and sliver of poached pear.