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 . . .)



  1. OOOH, sounds like a super intriguing book; and love the fun Halloween recipe!

  2. Bogs preserve bodies very well--there are some in the National Museum in Dublin that are thousands of years old (the oldest has been carbon-dated to 2000BC). Seems like every time someone digs a hole in Ireland, they find either an old body or a Viking gold hoard. Some weird factoids: bogs are made of moss--yes, that peat moss you put around your garden--and they keep growing, very slowly; and if you cut chunks of the peat and let them dry, you can build a fire with the stuff.

  3. What glorious fun!
    Yes, your daughter knows you well.

    The series is delightful.

  4. Everyone needs to read this series. It's one of my favorites. And if you are into history and ghosts her Kindle series based on her ancestors is good also.

    1. Aww, thanks for the mention--especially since the most recent one in that series just came out today! (Search for the Dead)

  5. Would love to read this series! Parkeremma2003 at yahoo dot com

  6. This isn't spooky, but cute. My daughter decided she wanted to be a witch for Halloween. She was a Candy Witch. I told her to say, "Haha!!! I want your candy!!!" But she quickly told me witches go heeheehee!!! Happy Halloween!!! Thanks for having the giveaway!


  7. Wonderful series which I would enjoy. Thanks for the delightful giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  8. Thanks for the recipe this sounds good,
    Penney penneyw(at)

  9. How delightful and special. Love it. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  10. Happy Halloween! I have always been fascinated by the bog people and how well the bog preserved their bodies and the stories they had to tell. I think your skull and bog cheesecake is amazing!

  11. There was a cranberry bog on our farm where I grew up---no wonder I was afraid to go pick cranberries---I always thought I heard strange sounds coming from there.

    1. We've got cranberry bogs about a mile from our house, but I think the traffic noises drown out anything spooky.

  12. I've never read Buried In A Bog. It sounds very good. Thanks for the giveaway.

  13. That is a great recipe idea for Halloween! I can switch from my cone witches hats treats for the year if I can just find a skull pan. Haven't read Buried In a Bog.
    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com


  14. I like the skulls.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

  15. A tasty sounding recipe! Thanks for it & the giveaway!

  16. Sounds like a great series!! Love the recipe. I always come here to see what you very talented ladies are sharing with us.

  17. This recipe looks wonderful!! I love your books and I haven't read this one. I think all of Ireland is riddled with ghouls and ghosts.

    1. I think you're right--the past isn't far under the surface. I love visiting prehistoric monuments like stone circles there because they still draw people to them.

  18. Shortbread and cheesecake. Yum.

  19. Love the skull baking pan. May need to get one of those. Wonderful looking recipe. I love this series, so no need to enter.

  20. Haven't read this series yet. Are you making skull cookies because there are skulls to be found in the bog? Happy Halloween!

  21. ���������� spooky as I could get from emoji mama2bulls(at)

  22. This is a good one! Love the skull baking pan.

  23. I really liked Buried in a Bog!