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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dark Chocolate and Pumpkin Cheesecake


It's Thanksgiving weekend up here in Canada so I am busying myself with prepping for a meal for 30. We are having a pseudo family reunion and celebrating two anniversaries in addition to thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for.

My contribution for the feast will be my family favorite mashed turnips with brown sugar, cinnamon and maple syrup, my grandmothers famous pierogies, and a dessert. I chose one I've been wanting to make for years and thought it would be perfect for this weekend.

I pulled out my Death by Chocolate cookbook by Marcel Desaulniers and got cracking today. This cookbook is full of decadent over the top, sinfully rich chocolate desserts. Without further is the recipe. I can tell you...I trimmed the pumpkin cheesecake to fit better and gave it a taste. DELISH!!! I've never had pumpkin cheesecake before so was unsure what to expect. Pumpkin pie but better!!! I dipped a second trimming into some ganache and that just put it over the edge of scrumptious.

I also cheated a smidgeon. I've been ill this week and didn't feel like baking the cookies for the crust so I sent the teen lad out to the market to pick up chocolate fudge cookies. I'm going to omit that part of the recipe but I'm sure it is worth it if you have the time.

Chocolate Pecan Cookie Crust
1 cup pecan pieces
6 Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge cookies
1 tsp unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Cheesecake
8 oz semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1/4 cup brewed coffee, full strength (hot)
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pumpkin Cheesecake
2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
1 lb cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree (make sure it's pure pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Semisweet Chocolate Ganache
1 cup cream (whipping cream)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp granulated sugar
12 oz semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit.
Toast the pecan pieces for 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature upon removal. Lower the oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor chop the cookes and the pecans until they are crumbs (should yield about two cups of crumbs). Set aside until needed.

Coat the bottom of a 9" by 3" springform pan with 1 tsp of melted butter. Use your hands to press 1 cup of crumbs to a uniform an level thickness on the buttered bottom of the pan. Set aside.

To prepare the chocolate cheesecake. Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler. (Here is where I cheat. I don't have a double boiler. What I do is boil water, pour into a large metal bowl, put my chocolate pieces in a smaller metal bowl and place in the boiled water..make sure the water isn't high enough to spill into the smaller bowl.) Pour the hot coffee into the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes( about 6-8). Stir the chocolate until melted and combined with the coffee.

Combine cream cheese, sugar and salt in mixing bowl with the paddle attachment. Beat on low for a minute, medium for 2 minutes, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 2 minutes on medium, followed by 2 minutes on high.

Add eggs one at a time ensuring it's well mixed between additions. Beat on high for about 20 seconds between each addition and scrape side in between as well.

Add vanilla and beat on high another minute until nice and smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and mix for another 20-30 seconds on medium. Remove from the mixer and using a rubber spatula pour into prepared springform pan, spreading evenly. Set aside at room temperature while preparing the pumpkin cheesecake.

For the pumpkin cheesecake, pour 1 tsp of melted butter in another springform. Cut out and place a piece of parchment paper down. Pour another tsp of butter on top of the parchment and spread to cover.

Place 1 lbs of cream cheese in the mixer and prepare as above to the conclusion of the egg additions. Mix pumpkin puree, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves for the final step. Pour mixture into prepared springform pan.

Place a small cake pan with 1 inch of water on the lower rack of the oven. This helps keep the moisture in the oven and prevents the cheesecakes from cracking (I learned this watching Marcel's show years ago!!). Place both cheesecakes in the oven on the center rack for approx 1 hour. Check them at 1 may need to go an addition 10 minutes depending on your oven.
Turn off the oven and keep the cheesecakes in the oven for an additional 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for approx 20 minutes at room temp. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for an hour keeping them in the springform pans.
In the meantime prepare the ganache. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a metal bowl. Heat the cream and butter and sugar in a small saucepan until near boiling point. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute then stir until smooth. After it cools cover with plastic wrap. Do not put in the fridge.

Once cakes have cooled you may remove them from the pans carefully.

To assemble the cakes. Chocolate on the bottom, place enough ganache over the chocolate cheesecake to allow the top layer to be placed above. To remove the pumpkin cheesecake I take another spring form base and place it on the top of the cake. Flip it and remove the bottom springform base and parchment. Line up the cake with the chocolate layer and then place on top of the ganache. Spread remaining ganache over the top of the pumpkin layer and spread around the sides of the cheesecake.

Place remaining base crumb mixture around the sides of the cake. Top with sour cream mixture for an extra decadent touch. (3/4 cup sour cream, 2 tbsp brown sugar), and pecans around the top.

I can't wait to try all these flavours together for the first time. I've never made this one before and am thrilled with the way it turned out!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey Cupcakes

Today I was literally a kid in a candy store. I hit the bulk barn bulk food store. My husband was laughing at me as I got insanely excited about finding bloodshot eyeballs, skull candy, bloody bones candy, candy corn etc.

The ideas were just plowing out of my brain on top of each other for halloween as my daughter is having a party this year. I can't wait!!! (just to make some fun treats).

In the meantime though we are celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving this weeknd. It will be a busy week of getting ready. i just couldn't help myself though and made some cupcakes tonight. I decided to use the candy corn and made some turkey cupcakes with my two youngest (aged 8,9)

They look a little mutated (and possibly phallic in some cases) but I am claiming innocence on all of that. I passing the buck to my kids. HA.

Anyhow, our turkey cupcakes.

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