Cream Cheese Crack Cake by
(84 Stories)

Prompted By Recipes

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In her later years, when hosting the family for Thanksgiving week, my mom would make a recipe for Cream Cheese Pound Cake she’d gotten from her friend Shifra. It was a hybrid of pound cake and cheesecake, moist and delicious and sinfully rich, and so addictive we used to call it Cream Cheese Crack Cake. She’d serve it as dessert at lunch and then leave it out in her condo kitchen where anyone could help themselves to more.

I could give you the recipe, but you'll have to sign a release form.

By that time, Patti and I had learned to control our weight through a combination of mindful eating, frequent exercise, and small portions. We didn’t deny ourselves anything as long as we didn’t eat much of it. So I’d take a small piece after lunch, and it was so good I’d carve off another sliver, and then another later in the afternoon, and then another when we’d come back from dinner. Patti observed this and warned me. “Portion control,” she said. “Those little slivers mount up.”

She was right, of course, but I resisted. It’s just pound cake, I thought. Even if those tiny slices added up to a tenth of the cake, how bad can it be?

Finally I decided to prove it to her by googling the calorie content of the ingredients and adding them up. It was easy; there were only six ingredients. I added up the butter, cream cheese, cake flour, sugar—

I stopped counting when the total calorie count reached eight thousand. And I hadn’t even gotten to the eggs.

After that, I found it a lot easier to resist that second, third, and fourth helping.

Profile photo of John Zussman John Zussman
John Unger Zussman is a creative and corporate storyteller and a co-founder of Retrospect.

Characterizations: been there, funny, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    ZOUNDS! Amazing how those little bites add up. But 8,000 calories before the eggs? That’s a lot of calories! No wonder it tasted so good. Reminds me of many moons ago when we visited you guys in Atherton and I was known to eat Patti’s cheesecake for breakfast…after all, it had eggs and cheese in it, didn’t it? Those were all breakfast foods….

  2. Risa Nye says:

    “It’s just pound cake.” And what a slippery slope it turned out to be. This is a delicious memory. Wonder how many calories involved in just reading about it!!

  3. Suzy says:

    This is so sad to me, that because of the tyranny of the almighty calorie, you deprived yourself of a delicious treat that was only available once a year. Seems like Thanksgiving is a time that should be exempt from calorie counting anyway. Just reading this story made me so hungry I had to go get a snack, but unfortunately it wasn’t cream cheese pound cake.

    • John Zussman says:

      Well, maybe … but as I say, I only “deprived” myself of second, third, and fourth helpings. And the fact that I have the recipe means that it wasn’t just an annual treat. Glad I made you hungry!

  4. To heck with the calories, if possible please send recipe

    BTW here’s a tip – my mother told me anything you eat while standing over the sink doesn’t count!

  5. And John, I’ll sign a release form.

  6. Marian says:

    Ay, ay, ay, maybe that’s why they call it “pound cake.” I admire your self control, John!

  7. Sounds like “pounds cake” to me.

  8. Lutz Braum says:

    Great story, John! That’s why I like the calorie numbers shown in restaurants – who would have known that a Cobb salad at the Cheesecake Factory has 3,200 calories!

  9. Laurie Levy says:

    Love this story, John. When I was working as an educator, everyone brought sweets to the office so they wouldn’t eat them at home. Inevitably, someone would bring the goodies into the lunch room and we would all sliver away at whatever it was. Teachers are pretty needy, I guess.

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