This is the Grocery Store Dessert Our Food Editor Turns to in a Pinch
When people find out that I am the food editor of Southern Living, they inevitably say two things: "That's a fun job!" and "I bet you bake all the time." The first statement is true. The second one is not.
I'll let you in on a secret: I don't love to bake.
Sure, I'll whip up a pan of brownies when a craving strikes, or bake celebratory layer cakes for birthdays, or even make dozens of bourbon balls for holiday gifts. But given the choice between baking and cooking, I will always choose cooking. I like to improvise, make it up as I go along, and, if we're being totally honest—let my mind wander a bit as I stir the pot.
To me, some occasions in life call for homemade dessert (birthdays, teacher gifts, really bad days), and others do not (weeknight get-togethers, last-minute dinner parties). When I can get away with not baking, I head to my grocery store's frozen food section and cross my fingers they have one particular item in stock.
WATCH: This 18-Layer Cake Has a Rich Southern History
Belle Chevre is an artisanal goat cheese company based in Alabama that makes excellent cheeses. They also make a ready-to-serve cheesecake that is drop dead delicious. It's smooth, creamy, and not too sweet, with a graham cracker crust and a little tanginess from the goat cheese and a bit of lemon. People will ask, "What's in this?" And then you can smile and say, "Goat cheese!" which causes all sorts of fun reactions.
Best of all, this store-bought dessert tastes homemade—although I never lie about that. The only downside is that it's a bit pricey, about the cost of a cake from a fancy bakery, but it's worth it. (And it can be sliced into thin wedges and topped with fresh berries, if you're feeding a crowd and need to make it stretch a little bit.)