Saturday, August 14, 2010

You Can Get Anything You Want at Alice's Restaurant - Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust and Sour Cream Rose Hips Glaze

When I was a teenager, I worked as an assistant baker at Alice's Restaurant. Yep, the one in the Arlo Guthrie song. Well not actually the restaurant. The original one was in an old church in West Stockbridge, MA. Some years after her fame and success, Alice bought a new place, an old estate called Avaloch in Lenox, MA with a desirable location directly across the street from Tanglewood's main gate. Those of you who are familiar with the Berkshires know where I mean.

Alice's was a crazy and fun place to work with all her famous friends trailing in and out of the kitchen and the creative hippies that worked there. Jackson Browne once put his finger in my batter.

I'm sorry.

That didn't sound right.

Anywho, Alice was an amazing and talented character. It couldn't have been easy for her being a strong, independent business woman going up against the good old boy network in our little vacation town. She also possessed a legendary temper. Many of the bowls and pots in the kitchen had dents in them from when she would throw them around. (We never did find out who did leave the shrimp out overnight.) I learned so much there, not just about throwing things in the kitchen, which I still do enjoy from time to time but about how much fun and love go into baking and cooking and what a wonderful communal feeling it is to make and share food together.

At the restaurant, I would arrive in the wee hours of the morning and help make dozens of loaves of bread. Using a huge standing up Hobart mixer I would make 25 cheesecakes at a time. I definitely had some memorable Lucy moments, like practically having to punch my way back into the baking room of the kitchen the time I left a huge amount of bread dough to rise for too long. I also learned what can happen when your butter covered hand slips and accidentally flings the switch on a standing Hobart mixer up several speeds too quickly. You get completely covered in batter with only your eye holes showing. That wasn't a good day.

That summer I was running between baking in the morning and taking dance classes with a ballet company in the afternoon. Often I would show up for dance class with flour in my hair or chocolate under my fingernails. But I loved it and still think back on that time as one of my best summers in the Berkshires.

My biggest problem was trying to make recipes at home. I could produce dessert for one hundred people but being far from a math genius, I could never whittle the recipes down to just one cake or one bread or whatever. Finally, after much experimenting, I was able to decipher the measurement for Alice's famous and prized cheesecake recipe. I still have it, written down by my teenage self, treasure it and it remains with me to this day.

Loyal employee that I am, I just can't divulge it here. But I adapted it below.

Alice, wherever you are, thank you for the wonderful summer at Avaloch. As you can see, I am still yakking about it here 30 years later.

I switched up the flavors a bit for my version.

Cheesecake With Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust and Rose Hips Glaze

For the  Crust:


  • 1 + 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (I made my own from this recipe from the King Arthur website and crushed them in a food processor.
  • 1 stick sweet butter melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


  • Stir the ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Press them into the bottom of a greased 10" spring form pan.

For the Cheesecake:
(all ingredients should be at room temperature)


  • 3 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1/2 pint sweet cream
  • 1+1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • Beat cream cheese and sugar together
  • Add eggs one at a time
  • Add sour cream, beat until combined
  • Add vanilla and lemon juice
  • Add cream pouring in slowly while beating.
  • Pour batter into pan and bake at 350 degrees in a preheated oven until golden brown on top.
  • Leave oven on and let cheesecake stand 10 minutes while you make the glaze.

For the Glaze:


  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1/4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons rose hip liqueur*


  • Beat all ingredients together, pour over cheesecake.
  • Return cheesecake to the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven.  Let cool and then refrigerate overnight before serving.

*Alternative if you don't have rose hip liqueur you can make rose hip simple syrup. Simmer rose hips in 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water.  Bring to a boil, simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and let steep for at least an hour.  Strain and substitute 1/4 cup for the sugar and rose hip liqueur in the sour cream recipe above.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a memorable time and amazing experience! Thanks for sharing it. And I wouldn't mind Jackson Brown putting his finger in my batter! Yum! And thanks for an amazing recipe. This cheesecake looks fabulous!


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