chocolate idiot cake

This cake was supposed to be so easy that an idiot could make it. However, this cake made me feel like an idiot instead.

chocolate idiot cake

First, it's made in a springform pan and baked in a water bath. If your pan isn't waterproof (and whose really is?) you're supposed to wrap it in foil. This sounds easy until you realize that the foil isn't really big enough and you have to improvise with many pieces until you end up with a frankenpan that is only marginally more waterproof than before.

chocolate idiot cake

Once that's done, making the batter is easy. Chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs. You're done. Pour it into the pan, put the pan into a roasting pan, fill the roasting pan with hot water, and into the oven for an hour and fifteen minutes. When it's just set and you can touch the top gently and come away with a clean finger, you're done.

Well, I checked mine at an hour and fifteen. Liquid. An hour and a half? Still liquid. I checked it every ten minutes and finally, after more than two hours (I lost track of the time) the cake was mostly set and I could touch parts of the top and come away with a clean fingertip, so I called it good and pulled it out. I let it cool, said a prayer, and hoped for the best.

chocolate idiot cake

It was worth it. The cake is like silk. It melts in your mouth. It's lighter than a truffle, but just as rich. It's everything I ever wanted in a dessert. The cake sweats butter. How could I not love it? I know an easier version of this cake-- which I will post, the next time I make it--but I confess, the texture of this one is better by far. Silk, I'm telling you. Make it, just once. You won't regret it. I took it to school to share, and I ended up with two pieces left over. Justin got up in the middle of the night and ate them both--sneaky bastard! I'm still plotting my revenge.

Chocolate Idiot Cake
courtesy of David Lebovitz
One 9-inch (23 cm) cake

This cake is extremely rich, and tastes like the most delicious, silkiest, most supremely-chocolate ganache you've ever had. As mentioned, it's equally good a few days later, and only an idiot could possibly mess it up. You don't need to use ScharffenBerger chocolate for this cake, but use a good one—you'll appreciate it when you taste your first melt-in-your-mouth bite.

10 ounces (290 gr) ScharffenBerger bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped. (I used Trader Joe's bittersweet chocolate, and it was fine.)
7 ounces (200 gr) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into pieces (Use the richest butter you can afford.)
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200 gr) sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F (175 C).

1. Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan* and dust it with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess. If you suspect your springform pan isn't 100% water-tight, wrap the outside with aluminum foil, making sure it goes all the way up to the outer rim.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or microwave), stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and cover the top of the pan snugly with a sheet of foil. Put the springform pan into a larger baking pan, such as a roasting pan, and add enough hot water to the baking pan to come about halfway up to the outside of the cake pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Ha! If it takes two and a half hours, don't fret.)

You'll know the cake is done when it feels just set, like quivering chocolate pudding. If you gently touch the center, your finger should come away clean.

5. Lift the cake pan from the water bath and remove the foil. Let cake cool completely on a cooling rack.

Serve thin wedges of this very rich cake at room temperature, with creme anglaise, ice cream, or whipped cream. (I used creme fraiche, but really, it doesn't need a thing.)


bacon and asparagus frittata

I am enrolled in a class that meets from 4:30-7:30 once a week. Due to the late hour, we agreed to each bring food for the class once during the term. Last week was my turn. Of course, I made a cake (that comes later) but the real challenge was to think of a savory item that could be made the night before and eaten cold by nine people.

If you have ideas, share them with me.

bacon and asparagus frittata

Eventually, I decided on a frittata. I could have made a quiche, yes, but I didn't want to bother with a crust. I poked around epicurious but settled on a Good Eats recipe. The show Good Eats, for those of you that haven't seen it, is a wonderful mix of food science and food-making. I am a geek, so I enjoy knowing what's going on with the protein bonds in my food.

bacon and asparagus frittata

Now, Alton's frittata included ham, and I'm not a fan, so I replaced it with an equal quantity of bacon. I made the recipe once as-is to test it, and then I doubled it for class. It is amazing just out of the oven, but it's still great cold, and it can be reheated also. This means that you can make a huge one and keep it around for a couple of days.

This is the 12-egg version: much thicker.
bacon and asparagus frittata

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Episode: Zen and the Art of Omelet Maintenance

6 eggs, beaten
1-ounce Parmesan, grated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup chopped roasted asparagus
1/2 cup chopped country ham
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves

Preheat oven to broil setting.

In medium size bowl, using a fork, blend together eggs, Parmesan, pepper, and salt. Heat 12-inch non-stick, oven safe saute pan over medium high heat. Add butter to pan and melt. Add asparagus and ham to pan and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour egg mixture into pan and stir with rubber spatula. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the egg mixture has set on the bottom and begins to set up on top. Sprinkle with parsley.

Place pan into oven and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned and fluffy. Remove from pan and cut into 6 servings. Serve immediately.


caramelized shallots

I tell you, Deb (smitten kitchen) is a woman after my own heart. Despite my general antipathy toward caramel, I adore all things caramelized.

caramelized shallots

Now, generally I would not call a plate of caramelized onions a side dish. But here is a recipe that I have no problem calling DINNER. I love it that much. I would eat it every day, were it not for the smelly side effects (sometimes, I must be considerate to my friends and lover).

I halved this recipe to one pound of shallots instead of two, because shallots were $3.99/lb. Next time I see them at the farmer's market I'm going to buy up as many as I can afford. Or carry. Anyway, once I'd scooped the finished shallots into a dish, I cooked some chicken in the cast iron pan, so that none of that flavor went to waste. Justin dipped the potatoes in the sauces left at the bottom of the onion dish, and I pretended to think that was gross. But really, I wish I'd been there to eat some too.

caramelized shallots

We all need more delicious recipes that are this easy.

Caramelized Shallots
Ina Garten

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 pounds fresh shallots, peeled, with roots intact
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch ovenproof saute pan (hooray for cast iron!), add the shallots and sugar, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the shallots start to brown. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss well.

Place the saute pan in the oven and roast for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the shallots, until they are tender. Season, to taste, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot.


purple mashed potatoes

mashed purple potatoes

I adore purple potatoes, and I admit that part of the reason is the color. Who can resist purple vegetables? I mashed these once in the traditional way, and they were delicious. Another time I tried to roast them, and that did not go well at all. They shriveled up and became extremely dry and tasteless.

Smitten kitchen then posted a recipe that promised to make the purple brighter. How could I resist?

I know that this is rapidly becoming a fanblog. I can't help it-- her taste in food is impeccable! And by that I mean, it matches mine. Why do all the weeding-out of recipes when someone's largely doing it for me? I promise I'll post some other stuff too. If she'd just stop posting things I have an urgent need to make.

I made this once with red potatoes instead of the purple, and I must say that it's much better with purple. With the red, the lemon and the shallot flavors were too strong and bright, but they melded perfectly with the purple potatoes. So find purple ones--it's worth it.

Michael Anthony’s Fork-Crushed Purple Majesty Potatoes
New York Magazine

Serves 4

1 lb. Purple Majesty Potatoes, washed
4 small shallots, minced
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil (we used half, and it was plenty for us)
Fleur de sel to taste
White pepper to taste
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

In a large pot, cook potatoes with skins on in heavily salted boiling water until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Remove potatoes from pot, and peel them while still warm. Place potatoes in a large bowl and, using a fork, gently smash them, maintaining a fairly chunky consistency. Fold in minced shallots, lemon juice, olive oil, fleur de sel, and white pepper. Finish with parsley.


orange-chocolate cake

I first made this cake months ago, thinking that it would make a good breakfast. It was good, I guess, but I wasn't that into it. My friends and boyfriend ate it up, but something aboout grapefruit (which I love) in a cake didn't do it for me. Then, smitten kitchen posted another version of the cake, with lemons and blueberries.

cat and cake

The cake itself is good-- light and tender, very moist thanks to the yogurt, but not too rich at all. In her post on the lemon version, she reminded me that you really can put anything you damn well please into the cake. And then she suggested one of my favorite combos ever: orange and chocolate.

orange chocolate cake

I remember looking at a recipe for an orange-chocolate cake once that I wrote off as too much work. But tossing some zest and chips into this cake was, well, a piece of cake.

orange chocolate cake

I could hardly wait for it to cool, (and in fact I didn't-- it was still a bit warm on first bite) I was so excited for orangey-chocolate goodness. Alas. Underwhelmed again. I don't know what it is-- I think the citrus in this cake just makes it feel sort of plasticy/waxy to me somehow. I may try the cake again without flavoring to see if it's the cake I'm reacting to or the citrus, but suffice to say I am sad.

orange chocolate cake

My boyfriend isn't--he polished off the cake.

orange chocolate cake

Orange-Chocolate Cake Adapted from Ina Garten

1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (if you’re skipping the fruit, you can also skip the last tablespoon of flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (i was out and used almond torani syrup)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold the chips very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup orange juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, as does using a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool.


rhubarb coffeecake

I've had coffeecake before, and I liked it, but it was always too rich somehow. Or too sweet. Maybe both. I was always a little underwhelmed, although that never stopped me from eating it (just you try and stop me from eating something).

Then, I found this.

rhubarb coffeecake

I was intrigued for two reasons: the rhubarb (I'd never had nor baked with it before) and the crumbs. THE CRUMBS. Anything that is 1/2 crumby goodness must be made. And devoured.

rhubarb coffeecake

Luckily, rhubarb is in season, and the overpriced market down the street had some. This recipe called for 8 oz (1/2 lb) and for some odd reason every single piece of rhubarb I picked up at the store weighed exactly 6 oz. I started to wonder if they cut them all to size. It was disturbing. Undaunted, I weighed about 8 or 9 pieces until I spotted Gigantor at the bottom and lo! He weighed a bit over 8 oz.


Sadly, that lonely rhubarb stalk sat in my fridge for several days. After the debacle with the dulce de leche brownies (I scrubbed that pan for AGES, peeling bits of caramel-glued foil off under the hottest water that would come out of my tap) I just didn't want to tackle a recipe with three parts.

parts of a coffeecake

But I'm glad I did. After all the chocolate and cream and butter overload, this was perfect. THIS is coffecake. Light and crumby, buttery but not overwhelming, with fruit bits that allowed me to pretend it was healthy. It was light (okay, compared to my usual fare) and perfect for a sunny summer day. Except this is Seattle, and so I ate it in the rain.

‘Big Crumb’ Coffeecake with Rhubarb
Adapted from The New York Times 6/6/07
stolen, as usual, from smitten kitchen

Not rhubarb season? Don’t fret. I think this cake would be amazing with a blueberry, raspberry, sour cherry or any other tangy fruit filling you can think of. Simply adjust the sugar level accordingly–most of these will need far less than rhubarb does to make them palatable.

Time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling

Butter for greasing pan

For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 3/4 cups cake flour (I was out and used all-purpose and it worked great)

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour–worked just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

2. To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.

3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


dulce de leche brownies

I had some dulce de leche left over, despite giving away a large jar and making two batches of cheesecake. Dulce de leche freezes just fine, but then I stumbled across this and I simply couldn't resist.

dulce de leche brownies

Dulce de leche + chocolate = heaven.

Best part? It took ten minutes to throw together. If you weigh your ingredients, it's even faster.

dulce de leche brownies

Unfortunately, in the end, they were somewhat uneven. Parts of the dulce de leche hardened too much and were sort of crunchy (not in a good way) and the dulce de leche leaked around the foil lining the pan, making the brownies impossible to remove cleanly. So, I have a plate of brownie chunks. That said, the brownie bits are amazingly moist and the perfect kind of chocolatey. Although I probably won't make these again (too much of a pain in the end--the fact that I will have to soak the foil-lined pan before I can clean it is the deal-breaker) I will probably eat all of the brownies (minus what Justin can lay his hands on) in the next 24 hours.

dulce de leche brownies

Dulce de Leche Brownies
from David Lebovitz
12 brownies

8 tablespoons (115 g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup (25 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140 g) flour
optional: 1 cup (100 g) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup Dulce de Leche

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 C).

Line a 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. If it doesn't reach all the way up and over all four sides, cross another sheet of foil over it, making a large cross with edges that overhang the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Mix in the nuts, if using.

Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Here comes the fun part.
Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Note: If you can manage to wait (yeah, right) these are even tastier the second day.


give ugly a chance

I know it's not pretty. But it's easy, and it's delicious, and sometimes, that's all you need.

pasta with eggplant puree

Just in case you were thinking of going into diabetic shock after all the desserts, here's some real food. Yeah, I needed it too. Don't worry, though-- there's more sugar to come. And butter. Possibly brownies.

Despite the total lack of cream or butter, this recipe turned out to be creamy, filling, and satisfying. Better is that the prep work takes ten minutes. If delicious made it pretty, this one would be a supermodel.

Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree
Giada DeLaurentis, Food Network
Adjustments by smitten kitchen (because, in case you hadn't noticed, her website is probably the best cookbook I own.)

1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, whole
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Glug of balsamic or red wine vinegar or freshly-squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant is golden, about 35 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish. Place in the oven on the rack below the vegetables. Roast until golden, about 4-8 minutes (check them every minute or two after 4 minutes--they go from golden to burnt fast). Remove from the oven and reserve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid (I never used more than 1/2-3/4 cup, but your taste may differ).

Transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor. Add the torn mint leaves and extra-virgin olive oil. Puree the vegetables.

Transfer the pureed vegetables to the bowl with the pasta and add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, adding the pasta cooking liquid 1/2 cup at a time until the pasta is as saucy as you like it, and add a glug of vinegar (optional). Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top and serve.

dulce de leche cheesecake squares

dulce de leche cheesecake

I confess that I am not much of a caramel fan. I remember when caramel frappuccinos were all the rage at starbucks, and honestly, i've never had one. I don't like caramel on my ice cream, and I'm not a huge fan of caramel desserts.

Then I discovered two things: good caramels (salted!) and dulce de leche. Good caramels, i've discovered, come wrapped singly and cost far more than anyone should ever have to pay for something that weighs under an ounce. And then you eat one, and you wonder which organ you should sell to buy another.

Dulce de leche is also delicious. It doesn't cost a fortune, but it takes ages to make. Literally. I made three different batches at once (I wanted to try all the varieties in a cross comparison! Don't look at me like that!) and no, I did not boil three different kinds of condensed milk. I did this the old-fashioned way. (And someday, I'll make my own butter too!)

I scoured the internet for dulce de leche recipes, and settled on two, one with whole cow milk (one batch with the best whole milk I could find, from a local dairy, and another with 'plain' whole milk) and a version with goat's milk (which I'd never had and sort of squicked me out.)

Then I realized that making the dulce de leche would take hours. In fact, when I finally got to it, it took over eight hours. I actually woke up once an hour through the night to go stir it, because I'm insane.

It was delicious, but I'll spare you. Below is the Smitten Kitchen version, safer than than of most of the world (which boils the milk inside the sealed can), but still a time-saver compared to my obsessive version.

Dulce de Leche (Milk Caramel)

Pour 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk into top of double-boiler pan; cover. Place over boiling water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 50 minutes, or until thick and light caramel-colored.

I know 40-50 minutes seems long. But remember- my version took at least eight hours. It might have been twelve. I quit counting.

dulce de leche cheesecake

If you make this with the dulce-in-a-can, the dulce de leche flavor is subtle. If you make it with the longer version (ask for the recipe and I shall post) the flavor is much stronger. In fact, it's amazing. And addictive. And I wish I had more.

dulce de leche cheesecake

Also, use powdered gelatin for this. I used leaves of gelatin (thin sheets) the second time I made this and they did not melt as well. I think I need to learn gelatin-sheet handling techniques. As it was, I had to pick the unmelted bits out of the final batter.

dulce de leche cheesecake

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2003

Time: 9 3/4 hr (includes chilling) (45 minutes active time)
Makes 64 (1-inch) petits fours

For crust
3 1/2 oz graham crackers, crumbled (1cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz envelope, will just about half of envelope)
1/4 cup whole milk
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup dulce de leche (12 1/2 oz) (recipe follows)

For glaze
3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Make crust: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with 2 sheets of foil (crisscrossed), leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.

Finely grind crackers with sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. With motor running, add butter, blending until combined. Press mixture evenly onto bottom of baking pan. Bake 10 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes.

Make filling: Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small bowl and let stand 2 minutes to soften. Beat together cream cheese, eggs, salt, and gelatin mixture in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes, then stir in dulce de leche gently but thoroughly. Pour filling over crust, smoothing top, then bake in a hot water bath (I was able to fit mine in a 9×13-inch baking pan) in oven until center is just set, about 45 minutes. Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 2 hours. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.

Glaze cake within 2 hours of serving: Heat all glaze ingredients in a double boiler or a small metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth, then pour over cheesecake, tilting baking pan to coat top evenly. Chill, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Lift cheesecake from pan using foil overhang and cut into 1-inch squares with a thin knife, wiping off knife after each cut. (If you're OCD, don’t skip this step! A clean knife is essential for uber-neat squares.)


chocolate caramel cheesecake

As though I hadn't gotten enough baking in when I made two desserts for Rebecca's potluck, I decided to host a potluck of my own. What can I say? I like to hear people praise my cheesecake. So for this potluck, I made two more.

I know they say that it's women that love chocolate, but I've seen a grown man whimper like a child at the phrase "chocolate caramel cheesecake". Try it sometime. I stole this recipe from smitten kitchen , but I topped it with a glaze from a different recipe (actually, the recipe that follows this). I can't bear to leave a cheesecake naked. They all look so much tastier dressed in chocolate.

chocolate caramel cheesecake

The wonderful thing about cheesecake is that it looks labor-intensive, but really, you can throw one together in an hour. The hardest part is waiting the 6-9 hours it takes to chill. That is pure torment.

chocolate caramel cheesecake

I will warn you: making the caramel takes forever. Have patience. And a strong arm. Or a boyfriend to take over the stirring when you need a nap.

Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake
Recipe from Epicurious.com

Active time: 45 min Start to finish: 9 3/4 hr

1 crumb-crust recipe (recipe below)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Make crumb crust as directed in separate recipe, using chocolate wafer cookies instead of graham crackers.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook sugar in a dry heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a fork, until melted and pale golden. Cook caramel without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden. Remove from heat and carefully add heavy cream (mixture will vigorously steam and caramel will harden). Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until smooth. Stir in sour cream.

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy, then beat in chocolate mixture on low speed. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 55 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.

Run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen and cool completely in springform pan on a rack. (Cake will continue to set as it cools.) Chill cake, loosely covered, at least 6 hours. Remove side of pan and transfer cake to a plate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Cooks’ note:
Cheesecake keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week. (As though you could just let it sit that long.)

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Crumb Crust
Recipe adapted from Gourmet, 1999

10 oz finely ground cookies such as teddy grahams
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 24-centimeter springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

Makes enough for a 24-centimeter cheesecake.

caramel chocolate cheesecake

adapted from Dulce De Leche Cheesecake Squares

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 tsp light corn syrup

Cheesecake should be completely chilled before glazing.

Heat all ingredients in a double boiler or metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until smooth, then pour over the cheesecake, tilting the pan until top is coated evenly. Chill, uncovered, at least 30 minutes.