Showing posts with label chocolate cheesecake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate cheesecake. Show all posts

Friday, October 28, 2016

Buried in a Bog Cheesecake for #Halloween

Ah, that lovely season when the dead rise again! You probably know of my fondness for graveyards, not to mention my obsession with my dear departed ancestors (“You have how many names in your family tree?” Actually, as of this week it’s 13,165, not including the Irish side.)

But sometimes it’s hard to find appropriate recipes for Halloween. In the past I’ve offered you black pasta (hand-imported from Italy!) and black garlic, and even spider cookies crawling out of a pumpkin one year. This year I realized I had overlooked one very obvious choice: the bog dead!

A few years ago my daughter gave me a set of skull baking molds (she knows me well). But I seldom feel the urge to make skull muffins or cupcakes. What else could I do . . .  And then I had this idea for skulls emerging from a pool of peat (aka a bog). Don’t worry: the skulls are shortbread, and the peat is dark chocolate cheesecake.

(If you’re faint of heart, you could make pumpkin cookies instead and scatter them over the nice field of cheesecake earth.)

The Skulls:

I used the basic shortbread recipe from my post last week and pressed the dough into the molds, filling them only part way (you could also use sugar-cookie dough). Then I baked them. It’s all right if they brown a little—a skull marinating in peat for a few centuries should be a bit discolored.

The Crust:

This will not show, but you will need it if you plan to eat this concoction (silly question) This recipe fits a 9-inch pan, but I doubled it for a 9x13” pan (I wanted to fit more skulls in).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray your pan with cooking spray.

9 oz. chocolate wafer cookies (crunchy ones, not chewy ones)
2 Tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted

In a food processor, grind the cookies to fine crumbs, then blend in the sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and blend. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until set (about 10 minutes), then cool.

The Cheesecake:

I searched through recipes and picked the deepest, darkest one I could find.

12 oz. (2 bags) bittersweet chocolate (if bars, chop)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
4 eggs

Melt the chocolate (microwave works well, or in a double boiler—slowly!), stirring steadily until the chocolate is melted. Let cool to lukewarm.

In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and cocoa powder together (no lumps!). In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes), then add the sugar/cocoa powder mixture. Beat well, scraping down the bowl. Blend in the eggs, one at a time. Finally mix in the lukewarm chocolate and stir.

Let me tell you, this stuff is delicious! I was tempted to eat it straight from the bowl.

Building your Bog:

Take your pan with the cookie layer and arrange the skulls on that—you can use as many as you want, and distribute them in whatever pattern pleases you—all lined up or randomly.

Pour in the filling carefully around the skulls. Actually, I had to use a pastry bag—the batter was a bit too thick to pour. But this is supposed to be peat, so it doesn’t have to be tidy. The layer doesn’t have to be too deep—you want the skulls to look like they’re emerging from the murk, ever so slowly. If you’re feeling creative, you can sprinkle some left-over crumbs around the skull to make the bog look more authentic.

This is a very large peat bog in Shannonbridge,
Ireland. It provides fuel for a nearby electric
generating station.  I had to stop and check it out.

Bake until the center is just set (that is, still a little wiggly), rotating the pan in the oven once during cooking. The exact timing will depend on how large your pan is and how deep the cheesecake layer is. Start checking after 30-40 minutes. It’s  not the end of the world if it’s baked a bit too long—the cheesecake will be more brownie-like in texture rather than creamy, but it will still taste good.

If you’re really into it, go wild with more decorations—maybe black sprinkles or some hints of green (bogs are growing things, you know). I did draw the line at adding a few (clean) chicken wing bones for effect, though. Maybe it would look good if you served it in the light of flickering candles.

Refrigerate your bog cheesecake overnight before you try to cut it (if you can wait that long!).
Savor it after the manic sugar-fueled trick-or-treaters have retreated for the night.

Oh, and a giveaway bonus: a pumpkin that will last more than a couple of weeks (It's cloth.)

And if you've never read Buried in a Bog (the first book of my County Cork Mystery Series), I'll throw that in too.

Here's a picture of the bog it's based on:

My great-great-grandfather's bog down the hill
from Knockskagh in West Cork. The peat is
under the brown grass.
Just leave a spooky comment and I'll draw one name for the pumpkin (hmm, I could draw a name out of a pumpkin . . .)


Monday, January 4, 2016

Godiva's Ultimate Chocolate Cheesecake

Each year when Christmas is over, I start gearing up for New Year's. Three of my college roommates come to my house for a weekend-long house party. We catch up on each other's lives, celebrate the good things, and commiserate about the not-so-good. It's a late nights-wine-eating-movies-talking-pajama-clad affair.

I always try to make a showstopper dessert for New Year's Eve. This year, one of my guests suggested Godiva's Ultimate Chocolate Cheesecake. The great news is that it's super easy to make. This cake is a decadent chocaholic delight. It's dense and powerfully chocolate.

In the recipe, they say that the top will crack around the edges. If that bothers you, try a different cake or you could try baking it in a water bath. I just piped whipped cream on it to hide the cracks. No one else even noticed. I used Annie's Chocolate Graham Cracker Bunnies for the crust and they worked very well.

This recipe calls for 4 large bars of Godiva's 72% dark chocolate. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it anywhere. Shhh. Please don't tell Godiva, but I dared to make this cake with Lindt 70% dark chocolate bars. Look for the large 3.5 ounce size.

Please note that you have to make this cheesecake a day ahead of time for it to settle.

Godiva's Ultimate Chocolate Cheesecake

1 ¼ cups chocolate cookie crumbs
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup hot coffee mixed with ¼ cup very hot water
¼ teaspoon salt
14 ounces (4 bars) GODIVA Large 72% Dark Chocolate Bars, divided
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325. Mix the cookie crumbs with the melted butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar and press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

Break up the chocolate bars while still in the wrappers. You can feel the chocolate breaking. But save 1/2 of one bar intact for decorating the top if you wish. Microwave the chocolate in 30 second bursts, stirring in between until melted. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the coffee with the salt and hot water. Beat the cream cheese about 2 minutes. Gradually add the cup of sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. On a slow speed, beat in the coffee mixture. Pour in the chocolate gradually while beating on  slow speed. Pour into the pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the center is set but slightly wobbly. Cool on a rack completely before refrigerating.

1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
fresh berries (optional)

Beat heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar until stuff peaks form. Spread or pipe the cream on the top of the cake. Garnish with fresh berries and/or remaining chocolate. When taking cheesecake out of the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting.

Oops! No Godiva!

Break up the chocolate.

So smooth. Liquid gold, er, chocolate.

Beat the cream cheese.

Pour in the pan.

Happy New Year!