Willa's Lemonade Cheesecakes

“Where have you been?”

“What have you been doing?”

“Why haven't you posted a new recipe?”

These are frequent questions from my readers. And I’d love to tell you all that I've been busy filming my own show, or that I couldn't come to the computer because I was elbow deep in tomato sauce, but the truth is sadly something very different.

At 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant my husband and I lost our little girl. Her heart just stopped, and we don't know why. We never got to hear her voice, or see her smile, or know what she looks like when she first wakes up. We never got to have all those “firsts” that we had excitedly anticipated.

We were ready for her: diapers unpacked, tiny clothes in her dresser and a place for her to rest her head right next to mommy. It was supposed to be the week we brought her home, the week we stumbled our way through parenthood, laughing as we put diapers on backwards and figuring out the difference between a “boppy” and a “breast-friend”.

But that's just not what happened.

Now this is the point where you may be thinking “this is such a private thing, why write about it on the internet?” Let me explain...

In my personal life everyone from my dry cleaner to the grocery store employees knew about my baby girl, and they watched day to day as my belly grew and grew (yes, I go to the grocery store every day). And then at 6 months pregnant she made her first TV appearance on the Food Network Star Finale. On national TV I stood there, belly in-tow, and told the whole world all about how blissfully happy we were to be growing our family.

So when we didn't bring her home and all these people started asking about her, we had to tell them. We had to share this very personal information, and we suddenly found ourselves having intimate moments with the most random people.

And then there came questions from all of you, my internet family. People would innocently ask how my baby was doing or how motherhood was treating me and I would have to tell them the truth. It's 2014, the internet age doesn’t allow for secrets.

But along the way I realized something. I didn't just have to tell them, I wanted to tell them, I wanted to tell everyone.

Every time someone asked, I got to tell another person about my daughter.  I got to tell them that we named her Willa and that she had my ears, and lips, and that we even shared that little dimple on my chin. I got to say how big she was at 8lbs 4oz and how her hands were the longest I'd ever seen. I got to tell them how beautiful and absolutely perfect she was. And as I talked about her, I found that for a moment, though fleeting, I was truly happy. I may have tears in my eyes when describing her big cheeks and dark hair, but I want you to ask about her because when you do, she lives on just a little bit more every time.

I am constantly trying to find ways to remember her, to honor her. So as I am getting back on the horse and finding my way back into the kitchen I love so much, I knew my first recipe would have to be for her, for my Willa.

I know what she liked because we spent a lot of time together. And she often made her requests known. Lemonade became something I could not live without, and she sent me searching all over NYC for the perfect blend of lemons and water. Sugar was request number 2 and she would demand it constantly and in many different forms. And last, let us not forget, the cheese.

And so I thought I would take all these things and make baby Lemonade Cheesecakes for her. Sweet and tart and just what she liked.


2 8oz Bars of Cream Cheese, room temp

1/3 + ½ Cup Sugar, seperated

⅛ Cup Corn Starch

⅛ Cup + ¼ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream, room temp

1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Lemon, juice + zest

1 Egg, room temp

6 mini graham cracker crusts


6 Tbs sugar

Whipped Cream

Sour Patch Kids

  1. In a food processor or mixer combine 1 bar of cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and ⅛ cup corn starch and mix until smooth.
  2. Add 1 more bar of cream cheese and process untill well incorporated.
  3. Add heavy whipping cream, ½ cup sugar, vanilla extract, lemon and pulse to combine.
  4. Finally add the egg and mix until smooth and free of lumps.
  5. Pour mixture into individual graham cracker crusts and bake in a water bath for 20-25min in a 350 degree oven. Once set, turn off oven and leave cheesecakes in the oven as it cools. Once the oven is cool and the cheesecakes are close to room temperature, remove and let sit in the fridge for at least 1hr. 
  6. When ready to serve place 1Tbs of sugar on the top of each cheesecake, spread around and then tap off any excess. 
  7. Brulee the sugar with a torch or under your broiler (instruction HERE).
  8. Serve topped with whipped cream and sour patch kids.

Makes 6-8 mini cheesecakes


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