Death by Chocolate Cheesecake

I admit it. I have been obsessed with chocolate lately. I’ve made bourbon brownies, 2 toned chocolate and choco chip cookies, in addition to the usual, standard stuff I make. And I’m not yet done. Still on my list are Kladdkaka, Tableya Cupcakes, Creme de Cacao… and this Chocolate Cheesecake, which has been dubbed Death by Chocolate Cheesecake.

For this one I delved deep into my cookbooks. Both hubby and the kid are chocoholics, and both are very particular when it comes to chocolate – they have discerning tastes! They prefer a deep, complex, nuanced chocolate flavor. I finally hit the jackpot when I found this recipe in a special edition “magazine” of Fine Cooking.

I started with a ready-made, off-the-grocery-shelf Oreo cookie crust. I know I could have made my own chocolate cookie crust but having a ready-made one DOES give me more time to concentrate on the filling, which I believed was more important! The downside though is that the ready made crust could not contain the full recipe for the filling. So I had to polish my math skills and scaled the recipe to about 2/3 – even then I was afraid that the batter would spill over in the oven. But all is well that ends well, the batter puffed up during baking but settled in nicely upon cooling…

The recipe did not specify a topping but I had in my mind a chocolate masterpiece with 6 layers of chocolate! I imagined (1) chocolate cookie crust, (2) double chocolate cheesecake filling, (3) silky ganache topping, (4) dark chocolate curls, (5) chocolate syrup drizzle, and (6) chocolate ice cream on the side!

For the silky ganache topping, I wanted a “softer” consistency, so instead of a 50-50 mix of chocolate and whipping cream, I used a 40-60 proportion, using a bit more cream than chocolate.

For the chocolate curls, I finally used the gourmet dark chocolate bar that my brother-in-law gave as a present.

While I had envisioned the 6 layers, I ended up with just 4 because hubby decided that it was overkill (pun intended!) to go beyond the chocolate curls. (The kid happily doused her slice in chocolate syrup though, but skipped the ice cream so at least for her it was 5 layers!)

The verdict? HEAVENLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, just like that, I am the kid’s hero again! I just love hearing her proclaim – Mommy you are the best cooker and baker ever, ever! (Her exact words)

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Date Walnut Cake

This is a version that I specifically made for a special order five or six years ago.  Someone asked me if I could make a healthier version for her mom who loves dates and walnuts but has issues with fat/cholesterol, sugar… the usual culprits that make the lives of the elderly difficult.  After several experiments, this was the winner!

So, this cake – no egg, no butter or oil!  NO CHOLESTEROL!  Low is sugar, except for the inherent sugar in dates… AND, AND…  IT HAS A BEAUTIFUL TEXTURE (very moist!) AND GREAT TASTE!

Check out the (estimated) nutritional analysis –

date walnut cake nutr 1

6 years ago, I made about 60 of these (in addition to some others) in ONE day!  To be honest, the baking was not the part I found tedious.  It was the packing and washing.  You see, I DO NOT have 60 or so pans to bake in.  At most I have 8 or so (maybe 10 max) so the waiting time is tedious and then I have to wash up (and dry!) before I could use the pans again.  THEN!  I had to fold boxes (although the kid and hubby helped a lot) and tie ribbons, etc. etc.

These days, I am so relieved to find a baking pan and gift package in one!  The base is made of thick cardboard and is coated with some sort of film.  The cake is baked in it (the store said it was a direct-bake package) and cooled in it.  The cover is a clear plastic that fits perfectly.  It saves time, effort and money (the whole package costs less than a cake box and cake board)!  I love it!!!

 

 

Orange-Blueberry Baby Bundt Cake with Blueberry-Vanilla Rum Sauce

I recently found a “baby” bundt cake pan. It was perfect for my little electric oven. By ‘little’ I mean my oven is only slightly bigger than a toaster oven, and this means I have some difficulty finding pans that fit!

Anyway, the pan was about 6 inches across and could fit a recipe for a medium (8×4) loaf pan. I thought of using the orange loaf recipe and spiking it with rum instead of triple sec. Then, because I had some leftover blueberry filling, I decided to ‘make’ a tunnel of blueberry in the ‘baby’ bundt cake.

It baked up quite beautifully!

Then I thought it looked a bit plain.  It was fine by itself already but I wanted to gussy it up even more… so…

Since I still had some blueberry filling left over, I decided to make Blueberry-Vanilla Sauce that was spiked with rum to pour over the cake.  Of course to make the slice ever prettier for the picture so I laid the vanilla pod I used on top!

The recipe for the Blueberry-Vanilla-Rum Sauce –

Place about 1/3 cup of blueberry filling, 3 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons butter, and a vanilla pod (split and scrape the “caviar”) in a small, thick saucepan. Heat over a low flame until butter is melted and the mixture is barely simmering; remove from flame and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of rum.

 

Bourbon Brownie Birthday Cake

Hubby’s request was for a dark chocolate cake.

I had visions of a grand 2 or 3 layer cake, surrounded by bars of chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate shavings.  The vision would not become a reality.  An accidental fall (not too serious, but serious enough that my ankle and elbow are stiff) prevented me from baking and frosting an elaborate cake.  So what to do?  Hubby cannot miss out on his birthday wish??!!!!!!

Enter these deep, dark, bitter chocolate brownies laced with bourbon!  Instead of baking the brownies in an 8-in square pan, I baked them in a 7-in round, which gave them a bit of height.  The brownie could not be plain ‘ole brownies so in went a quarter cup of bourbon.

(This particular bourbon is sentimental to me – it was one of the few bottles I took from my late father’s liquor cabinet before it went up in smoke)

The ganache used to garnish the cake was also laced with bourbon, but only about half a tablespoon.

Hubby loved it!

It was especially divine with a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream.

 

Mommy’s Fruitcake

My mom, for Christmas, is famous for 3 things – her lasagna, her apple pie, and her fruitcake!

I have succeeded with the lasagna, and am still struggling with the apple pie… but with her fruitcake?  Hmmmm, I know I botched up her recipe!

Why do I say this?

Well, first of all, she has 3 recipes for fruitcake in her recipe collection.  I have no idea which one she used!

Then, I thought I had all the ingredients – I checked a week before to see if I had everything… and I did, except for some dried and glazed fruit, and brandy.  I got hubby to drive me to various baking supply stores and the wine shop to get what I needed.  Then I started soaking my fruit.  When  baking day arrived, I gathered my ingredients together and discovered, to my dismay (!) that my molasses had gone bad!!!  Too late to go out and find molasses so I used dark corn syrup instead…

Then I committed the ultimate “sin”… I failed to check the oven temperature, and I baked the fruitcakes a tad longer than I was supposed to!  After 4 decades of baking, I forget the most basic of rules!  (totally my fault because I decided to substitute pans – made the fruitcakes into cupcakes and a small loaf, instead of 2 medium loaves).

So, it really isn’t any wonder that my (mom’s) fruitcake did not resemble the original!

Don’t worry, I will try again.  In fact, I have 1.5 kilograms of fruit soaking in brandy right now!!!  (And yes, I got the molasses too!)  Now all I have to do is find the time to bake!

(Hubby says that the fruitcake is delicious, although it is a bit dry inside…)

 

 

Having Fun in the Kitchen!

There are days when I am stuck at home with nothing to do…  For such a day, I usually catch up on sleep or reading… or I have fun in the kitchen!

This particular day I went crazy… made orange-speckled mini cakes – 1 frosted with Truffle Frosting for BFF’s birthday and the other one frosted with Yema Frosting, for a colleague.  (a bit more about yema in my next post.)

Then I made banana cupcakes and mini cupcakes – a dozen mini cupcakes frosted with Truffle Frosting for BFF still, half a dozen of mini cupcakes for another colleague AND a couple for the kid’s piano teacher, AND, of course, the kid!

I was tired after all that (plus the kitchen was HOOOOOTTTT!) but it was all worth it.

 

Light Tropical Fruitcake

Brother E has been baking up a storm, using the master loaf recipe. He’s tried the ones I suggested and has even come up with a few of his own – avocado, honey and almond, banana-honey, squash… and he is thinking of some others such as salted caramel…

as for me, I thought of making it fruitcake… a white fruitcake.  Why fruitcake? and why white?

Well, since the fire that engulfed my mom’s recipes, I have been in a frenzy to find the copies that I took home with me a long time ago.  As I find them, I encode them (again) to save them… I came across a recipe for white fruitcake with the title “Cely’s White Fruitcake”.  I am presuming that it refers to her sister, my aunt, Cely.

Of course I have no permission to share that recipe but I thought I could adapt my master loaf recipe to make a white fruitcake.  And it was a success!

How did I do it?  Well, first I used butter instead of oil.  Then I substituted some of the sugar with honey.  I added cinnamon and a dried fruit mix which was soaked in my favorite rum!

The first thing to do – soak the fruits in rum… a good 3 hours before making the fruitcake, but preferably the night before.  A note on the fruits – I like a dried fruit mix instead of glazed fruits but it is the baker’s choice!  So you could use whatever fruits you like – mix dried fruits and glazed fruits… add some chopped nuts… like I said, baker’s choice!  (for this I used a tropical fruit mix – pineapple, papaya, coconut, mango…)

150g dried fruit mix (about 1 cup)
75g pitted dates, diced
3 to 4 tablespoons rum

For the fruitcake itself –

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Beat the butter and sugar together, add honey and vanilla. Mix well then add the egg. Beat a couple of minutes.

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
zest from 1 orange, optional
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add to butter-egg mix alternately with

¼ cup milk

Fold in the fruit mix.

Place in a greased and lined 7×3 loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 325*F oven for about 55 minutes. Tent with foil if the top gets too browned.

Brush the loaf with rum and more rum.

The loaf can be aged with rum (keep in fridge, wrapped in foil; brush with rum once or twice a week) or it can be enjoyed sooner – immediately, that is once it has cooled.  Frankly, hubby can be impatient so I cheat.  What do I do? I slice the loaf and brush the slices with rum before serving!

Yummm!

Irish Cream Flan Cake

It was delicious, everyone said.  But it did not look as I thought it would.

I’d always imagined it (as I’d seen other flan cakes) as a cake with a flan layer on top.  Mine came out with a thin layer on top and some flan on the sides.  I don’t know what happened.

At least it was fully cooked this time.

The first time I tried it, a good 5 or so years ago, I ended up with a big goopy mess!  All over the floor!

I followed the recipe and baked accordingly, or so I thought.  I turned the pan over into a plate and whoosh… like a wave and into the floor!

Long story short… this flan cake is (next to the ensaymada and my mom’s apple pie) my waterloo.  But I will keep trying!

Buttermilk Coffeecake

I was able to find buttermilk last weekend. I dug up my list of to-bake recipes using buttermilk and set about choosing which recipe to make first.

Then, my brother told me that he would drop by and make me a cup of “special” coffee. “Special” because I don’t know how to brew it (it requires special equipment) but he does and he would even bring the “special” equipment over.

And before he puts down the phone, he says – I bring the coffee, you provide the cake to go with it.

Ha. This made my choice easier. Cake to accompany coffee? Coffeecake. Boom!

Now, the usual coffeecake has streusel on top. But I read somewhere that putting streusel in the middle of the cake makes it even more special, so of course that’s what I did!

For the cake:

1 1/8 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 whole egg + 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

For the streusel topping:

1/3 butter, cold, cubed
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

First make the streusel. Mix everything – by hand (literally) or using 2 knives or a pastry blender, or by processing in a good processor. Just don’t overmix. Set aside. I leave mine in the fridge while I prepare to mix the cake.

Preheat the oven to 325*F. Line the bottom of a 7 x 3-inch round cake pan.

Stir the dry ingredients together; set aside. Beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg; mix, then add the egg white and mix again. Add the vanilla. Stir in a third of the flour mixture then add half of the buttermilk. Stir in another third of the flour then add the remaining half of buttermilk. Stir in the last third of flour. Mix until just combined.

Spread half the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle a third of the streusel on top of the batter. (I sprinkled a tablespoon of mini chocolate chips as well.). Be careful and leave the edges without streusel. Scrape the remaining batter into the pan and sprinkle the rest of the streusel on top (might as well add 2 tablespoons of mini chocolate chips to make it consistent…

Bake for about 40 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Enjoy with great coffee! Brother E and I had our cake with single-origin Bukidnon coffee.

Orange Loaf

We had a couple of oranges just sitting fridge. The little girl did not want juice and no one else wanted to eat them. I was getting worried that it would spoil… sooner or later…

So as usual, I looked for something to bake that would use the orange! Obvious solution, orange cake! Of course I did not ordinary orange cake, I wanted ooommmph… which meant some form of alcohol content!

I found a solution in the book “Booze Cakes”… the recipe that was entitled “Screwdriver Cupcakes”.  The original recipe used orange vodka, but i used triple sec (I did not have orange vodka on hand!)  The recipe also specified coconut but I skipped that as well.

The idea of a frosting, while tempting, was also dismissed.  I was thinking of sharing the cake with my mother and she does not appreciate frostings!  So I baked the recipe in 2 loaf pans and when they finished baking I just brushed a mix of marmalade and orange juice on top to make a sticky orange loaf!  As extra, I placed some candied orange (diced) on top of one of the loaves (this loaf went to my mom).

Hubby and the little girl loved it!  The little girl!  who often disliked any flavor other than chocolate!  The little girl asked for seconds and thirds!!!

My mom (and younger brother) loved it too!

Wow!

Also, a tip that I learned – takes more work, I know, but believe me, IT IS WORTH IT!!!!

Rub the orange zest in the sugar!!!!!!