Try. Fail. Try again. Fail Better.

It feels terribly appropriate that I tried to search this quote to give credit to the creator only to be unable to find this exact quote. The only quote I could find was a very similar one by Samuel Beckett but not this particular quote. It tickles the back of my mind as something from a movie. I can just picture some wise male mentor character saying this in a deep gravelly voice that inspires the hero or heroine to go forward and succeed. Hmm… maybe I should search again… As amusing as my quote sourcing abilities are, that’s not what this post is about.

Do you ever get it in your head that you really, really want something? Ever want to do something nice for your spouse/partner? Well, I was in exactly that mood yesterday and neither venture ended in success. On the upside, I learned a thing or two about a thing or two. And I managed to make a stellar riff on shepherds pie… so success! But what were the failures? It all started with a cheesecake.

It’s been almost two weeks of doing keto and I am proud to say we are going strong. But cravings have a way of sneaking in when you least expect them. And there I was, sitting on the sofa registering for health insurance when what should pop into my brain like some culinary epiphany? Cheesecake.

Now I’ve never made cheesecake. I tried once a few weeks ago and it turned to custard with berry sauce over it. And in that case my failure was delicious. I didn’t get any pictures of that gooey disaster but believe you-me, it didn’t last long despite being cemented to the bottom of my pyrex cake pan. What do they call those? A beautiful disaster? Well, I’m gonna call it a delicious disaster.

So armed with the knowledge I’d gotten in that failure, I did a quick recipe search for keto cheesecake. Success! An easy to follow recipe! Huzzah! Okay, let’s look at this.

Filling:
24oz cream cheese
1 1/2 C sweetener
3 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

That’s the filling. That’s it. How could I possibly mess that up? All the recipe said was to whisk together until smooth. So that’s what I did.

Crust:
1 1/2 C almond flour
1 tbsp flax
3 tbsp sweetener
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter

That’s not too complicated either. The recipe said to mix together thoroughly then press into the bottom of a greased spring form pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 325 degrees before adding filling and baking for an additional 50 minutes.

So, let me say that none of this was an outright failure. It just wasn’t cheesecake like I know it. I wanted dense, sweet, cheesy goodness. What I got was a fluffy, custard-y sweet that vaguely resembles cheesecake. It tasted good. It just wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for so it was a bit of a let down. Manny said it was delicious. We both agreed though, calling it cheesecake is a bit of a stretch.

So that’s the basics. But since when have I ever done anything basic? Nah. Plain cheesecake, or even plain not-quite-cheesecake just ain’t it. So before I popped that sucker in the oven I added a couple handfuls of pecans and some Lilly’s chocolate chips. But that’s not enough! I wanted turtle cheesecake! But how to make keto caramel? Well, I’d figure that out while it baked… in the oven it went.

On to the caramel! Pinterest informed me that this was the absolute best keto caramel recipe out there… so down the bunny hole.

Keto Caramel
1 C allulose
1 1/4 C heavy cream
1/2 C butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

The recipe said to combine ingredients in a high walled pot, stir to combine, and then let simmer for roughly 15 minutes. When caramelized the recipe said you could thicken using gelatin but I didn’t have the kind they said to use and they were very adamant that only that particular gelatin would work so I decided to slip a little xanthum gum in to thicken and lady’s and gents, that was my first mistake.

Did you know xanthum gum is very touchy? So after I had mixed my caramel into a gelatinous mass of gak-like grossness I did a little research. I had treated the xanthum gum just like I would corn starch or flour to create a roux. But oh no, let me tell you that was a mistake. Turns out xanthum gum has roughly 6x the thickening power of corn starch or flour. So I thought I was adding a little thickener when in fact I was creating a snot-like caramel flavored goo you wouldn’t let your child play with much less eat. Ugh.

I guess that’s where the title comes in. Try, fail. Try again, fail better. I haven’t tried to recreate the caramel yet but I will. Manny loves caramel so I will definitely be perfecting that recipe. I think if used sparingly xanthum gum could definitely work to thicken a caramel sauce, and next time I’ll be armed with all the knowledge of this attempt’s failure.

I did manage to eek out enough to stretch over my not-really-cheesecake. It sure was pretty even if it didn’t taste the way it was supposed to. And for that matter, it was delicious too, just not what I had expected. Thank goodness dinner was a roaring success otherwise I would have felt very dejected by yesterday’s failures. I think yesterday I just wanted normalcy and I wasn’t quite ready to accept “normal” keto foods as the new normal yet. So I browned hamburger and whipped some cauliflower and added all the cheese and spices and herbs and put it together to bake. The end result was a delicious dinner of keto shepherd’s pie that racked in at about 5g carbs per serving. It was everything we needed.

So yesterday was an adventure. I normally do a lot of baking and cooking on my days off but I think today I’m just gonna take it easy. Dinner tonight is gonna be a stir fry of chicken and cabbage with a spicy peanut lime cilantro sauce. And desert? Well, even custard-cheesecake is better than no cheesecake.

Work tomorrow will be a breeze. We’re going to enjoy the left over shepherd’s pie for dinner after but to get me through I have perfect keto’s instant french vanilla coffee, their cinnamon roll bars, and their hazelnut chocolate nut spread. Keto made easy! And the items were completely free thanks to the thank an essential employee give away Perfect Keto did to show appreciation for essential workers during the covid-19 pandemic. Thank you Perfect Keto!

Leave me a comment with your best (or worst) cooking fail! As always, take care and God Bless!