Well, I’m back from my wee break. And though the break was awesome, I’m excited to be back and have so much to say!
Taking two weeks off after posting every day for a month was a much-needed break. Even though December’s Holiday Almanac posts were short, they were still time-consuming to do every single day and it was great to have some time off on hols in Austria and then here in Edinburgh, cooking all the things that I’ve been wanting to make that DON’T have a place in the box… things like Broccoli with Oyster Sauce, Smoky Bean and Kale Soup, Sriracha Mac and Cheese, Baked Coconut Milk Chicken and a Galette des Rois for Epiphany.
It’s been a lot of fun, but I’m excited to get back into the swing of things and I’ve been easing myself into it cooking a few recipes over the last week when the mood struck.
And to celebrate my return, what better way to start 2016 than with the FINAL Cheesecake recipe of The Recipe Box?
You may have noticed that (for the first time since starting this blog!) I skipped making a cheesecake in December because I figured baking a different thing each day was enough, but that still means I’ve made a total of eleven cheesecakes over the past year, and I’m proud to say I’ve learned a thing or two in the process.
- First of all: don’t discount an easy recipe! The easiest cheesecake I made over the past year was my favourite, and it didn’t even require a spring form pan!
- In the absence of graham crackers and zwieback, my preferred crust is rich tea biscuits—not digestives, which are too grainy and disruptive. But if you’re up for something a little more exciting, grinding up a heap of chocolate bourbon cream biscuits in the food processor and adding just a wee drizzle of melted butter makes for a decadent and delicious chocolate crust.
- I prefer cream cheese based cheesecakes, none of this ricotta and pot cheese and sour cream nonsense.
- The more eggs in a cheesecake, the more of a pain it’s going to be to make… and the more dishes it’s going to dirty when you try to.
- ‘Layered’ cheesecakes are so much harder than they look and I still haven’t made one that looks as pretty as the pictures always do.
- Last (and perhaps most importantly), no one in your taste-testing audience is going to care if your cheesecake has a crack in it, or if your layers are slightly less… layered than the photos of cheesecakes they’ve seen on menus and Pinterest. Making cheesecakes is a learned skill, and every recipe is different. They’re temperamental and prone to drastically different results from miniscule changes (were your eggs actually room temperature? Did you open the oven? Did your mixer get too full to really blend the milk all the way into the batter?), and they take more practice to get right than anything else I’ve ever baked. I’m still no expert, but the people who have tasted one (or more!) aren’t complaining about my lack of expertise. They’re just excited they got some cheesecake.
This is a bigger lesson I’ve been trying to remind myself of this year: Julia Child may have said it best when she said that cooks should never apologise for their food, and the same goes for their cheesecakes. Stand up and be proud of your cooking—and your baking—even if it ends up being a massive disaster. The worst that could happen is that you end up with an awesome story to tell.
This cheesecake, however, will not be one of those disasters. I saved it for last because, even though it just comes from a Philadelphia cream cheese ad, it involves some pretty exciting things: a crunchy chocolate crust made with chocolate sandwich cookies, a layer of plain cheesecake, a layer of deep dark bitter sweet chocolate cheesecake, marshmallow crème, and you don’t even have to bake it! (And did I mention that this recipe gives you an excuse to buy marshmallow crème?
5 spoons out of five. DID I MENTION THE BOURBON CREAM CRUST AND THE MARSHMALLOW CREME STIRRED INTO THE BATTER?
Double-Chocolate Layer Cheesecake
Mix together crumbs and melted butter until the mixture has a sandy texture.
Press mixture into the bottom of a springform pan, and press up the sides as much as possible.
Whip the cream until light and fluffy, then set aside.
Wipe out your mixing bowl and continue.
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and allow to soften while you beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until very smooth.
Heat gelatin very slowly (in the microwave using 15 second bursts or over low heat on the stove) until gelatin has dissolved into the water.
Gradually add gelatin mixture to cream cheese mixture, beating well until blended.
Beat in marshmallow creme and make sure not to leave too many big marshmallow creme lumps.
Fold in whipped cream gently, just until blended.
Pour 2 cups of cream cheese mixture into a medium-sized mixing bowl and beat in melted chocolate quickly (the melted chocolate will seize as soon as it hits the cold cream cheese mixture, so try to work as fast as possible with a whisk to blend).
Pour the plain cream cheese mixture over the crust and carefully spoon over the chocolate mixture, noting that you won't be able to spread it so try to spoon it evenly.
Chill until firm (this took me overnight).
2 c chocolate wafer crumbs (I used bourbon creams, but if you're Stateside, you could use Oreos)
1/3 c butter, melted (if you're not using sandwich cookies, increase this to 1/2 c)
1 c whipping cream, whipped
4 tsp gelatin, unflavoured
1/4 c cold water
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
7 oz marshmallow creme (for me, this was a regular-sized jar from the American grocery store in town)
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips or baking chocolate, melted