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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake with Ganache

Everything a chocolate cheesecake should be.

Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake with Ganache
~Barefoot Contesssa

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the filling:
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee
1 3/4 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

For the ganache:
1/4 pound semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust:
Place the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and cinnamon in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until combined. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, chop the bittersweet chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the espresso and stir until just melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.

To make the filling:
Cream the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and almond extracts and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, and the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.
Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door opened wide for 1 1/2 hours. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature, until completely cooled.

For the ganache:
Finely chop the semisweet chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the cream and stir until just melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving. Drizzle the ganache over the top of the cheesecake.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summer Fruit Crisp

OK, another fruit dessert. It started out being a crostata. I made my pastry dough, put it in the fridge, cooked several other things, and by the time I got it out to roll the kitchen was 95 degrees and it just wasn't going to happen. So my Summer Fruit Crostata became a Summer Fruit Crisp. I think it was for the best really because the combination with Breyer's vanilla ice cream (the kind with the little vanilla bean specks) made everyone very happy.

Here is my recipe, I think, I threw it together pretty fast.

1 lb black plums
1 lb peaches
1/2 pint blueberries
zest and juice of one orange
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Peel the peaches and cut into wedges along with the plums. Add in blueberries and toss with orange zest, juice, sugar, and flour. Pour into baking dish.

Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the fruit. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Cherry Pie

With the 4th of July coming up I didn't really give a lot of thought to any patriotic themed desserts. However, randomly last night while watching Sabrina, I wanted to make a cherry pie. I can't remember what the connection was to Audrey Hepburn and cherry pie or if there even is one. So cherry pie does seem very American and I added some stars to end up with a semi-patriotic dessert after all.

I got the recipe from my 1950's Better Home and Garden cookbook. It should perhaps be renamed "How to be a Good Housewife" since that seems like what it was written for. It has a lot of good cooking tips though and apparently a good basic cherry pie recipe.
Cherry Pie:
2 cups cherries (either canned or frozen)
1/3 cup cherry juice
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon butter, softened
red food coloring
Drain the cherries and reserve 1/3 cup of cherry juice. In a large bowl combine sugar and flour. Mix in cherry juice, almond extract, butter, and small amount of red food coloring (I used gel since that is what I had on hand but liquid would work as well). Add in cherries and allow to sit while pie pastry is made.
Perfect Pie Crust:
1 1/2 sticks very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan.
I nearly made a lattice top for the pie but then found a star cookie cutter and then cut out stars with the remaining dough (which was a lot). Only 38 stars...I'll try to be more aware of US history next time I bake.

Cheesecake Brownies

I had a box of brownie mix, the good kind with Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. That would have been boring so I made cheesecake brownies:
Cheesecake Brownies
I used Betty Crocker Original Supreme Brownie mix.

Cheesecake Topping:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 bar (.75 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare brownie mix as directed on box. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and butter in large bowl until creamy and smooth, using electric mixer at medium speed. Add eggs, cream and flour, beating just until combined. Add the vanilla extract. Pour cheesecake mixture over the chocolate layer.

Place chocolate in microwave-safe cup. Microwave in 20 second intervals until melted, stirring between each.

Drizzle melted chocolate over the cheesecake layer. Drop pan on counter to burst any air bubbles in the cheesecake layer.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cheesecake layer is set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Then chill several hours or overnight before cutting into 2-inch squares.