Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake is DIVINE!
Apparently, I am really picky when it comes to cheesecake because I have never liked it......until now.
I am glad that I can meet my own standards. ;)
See, I hate to admit it but I have texture issues. I am not going to explain why but I don't care for foods that have textures that are soft and slick or slimy, like custards. It's just not my thing.
This cheesecake has an amazingly thick rich texture though. It is not too soft. It is perfect.

This cheesecake starts off with a rich oreo cookie crust. It compliments the vanilla cheesecake oh so well. On top of that is a deliciously fluffy layer of the best chocolate mousse you have ever tasted. {It's so good you will be spooning some into a pretty crystal glass for your consumption later.} Finish this cheesecake off with a thick layer of rich dark chocolate ganache that just wraps the whole cheesecake in a big decadent hug. Yep. When you eat this, you will feel like you are getting a big hug. It's that luxurious. I guess I kinda liked it.
Melt-in-your-mouth goodness this is.
 I love it chilled well.

This recipe is from David Lebovitz. He does good stuff!

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake
Yields: Six 4-inch cheesecakes or an 8 to 9 inch cheesecake
Oreo Cookie Crust
30-32 Oreo cookies (or chocolate sandwich cookies) for a high crust
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Prepare your pans with parchment paper or another method (cardboard) to easily remove cheesecake after cooking. {This is ABSOLUTELY necessary to not destroy your crust while taking it out of the springform pans.} Crush cookies until fairly fine in a food processor or ziploc bag and a rolling pin. Pour melted butter on top of the crushed cookies and mix well. Press the oreo mixture in the bottom of your springform pan(s) lightly compacting it.
CAUTION: Your cheesecake will be difficult to get out of the pan if you do not do something about it. You can cut some parchment paper just larger than the round and lock it into the springform pan or I hear you can put a cakeboard in the bottom of your pan (have never tried that). This was my first time ever making a cheesecake and I didn't recognize this problem until it was too late. Result: Basically the whole bottom came off of the cheesecake and crumbled = Not pretty. But still delicious. :)
Smooth out the mixture with the bottom of a measuring cup. Wrap the bottom of the pan in a double or even triple layer of aluminum foil being careful not to puncture any holes in it. Place the crust in the freezer while you make the cheesecake.
Simply Delicious Cheesecake
16 ounces (1 lb) cream cheese, room temperature (Best Quality- don't be cheap)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup heavy cream (or sour cream or combination)
Boil about a quart of water, however you want to do that. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using a stand mixer (or large bowl with hand mixer) fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft for about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt, and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition to yield a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and stir in the heavy cream or sour cream.
Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in a roaster pan, and pour in a few cups of the hot water in the pan around the springform pan (I do half before putting the cheesecake mixture, to reduce my chances of getting water in the cheesecake and to get everything ready.) BE CAREFUL! If you get water in the pans, your cheesecake (especially your crust!) is going to be ruined.
Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan(s). The batter should fill only half of the pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour the rest of the boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. BE CAREFUL!
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven's heat, and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight. Make the mousse once the cheesecake has cooled.
French Chocolate Mousse (AmAZazing!)

6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped (
use good chocolate)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp espresso powder- NOT granules (added to intensify chocolate flavor, optional)
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold (do not use half-frozen cream; the whipped cream will curdle)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl, and place over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler). Melt the chocolate and butter together and stir with a whisk until smooth. Add in the espresso powder. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate, 1 by 1, beating with a whisk until incorporated. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, and continue to beat. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Beat heavy cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters until it begins to foam and thicken up. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Continue to whip the cream until it holds soft peaks.
Gradually and gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then, delicately fold in the whipped cream. Take care not over work the mousse but make sure you blend in the cream well. Place the mousse on top of the cooled cheesecake while still in the springform pan. 
Cover the mousse cheesecake with foil, being careful to not let it touch the mousse. (If your springform is too small for this, just use less mousse in the cheesecake and instead eat them in ramekins while you prepare the ganache!) If making the ganache immediately, place mousse-covered cheesecake in the freezer as you make the ganache (the cheesecake should NOT be in the freezer for more than 30 minutes). If making the ganache later, place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for a few hours. Either way, the ganache must be cool before you can pour it on top of the cheesecake.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
  1 cup heavy cream
  9 ounces bittersweet bakers chocolate, chopped
  3 tsp vanilla extract
{In the pictures you will notice that the ganache is not flowing down the sides of the cheesecake all that much. I wish I had twice as much ganache so I doubled the recipe for you above so that you can drizzle more on the sides as you wish or save some for ice cream. :) }
Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Just BEFORE it boils, place the chocolate in the cream and remove from heat. Stir the mixture until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. Allow the ganache to cool for about 15 minutes before pouring the mixture on top of the mousse cheesecake.
Run a knife along the inside edge of the pan and then release the springform pan. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the bottom and place it on a cake board or your display plate. Pour the cooled ganache over the cheesecake fairly quickly. With an offset spatula, smooth the ganache while starting at the center of the cake and working outward. (I did a "crumb" crust by placing a thin layer of the warm, not hot, ganache on top, allowed it to cool in the freezer for 30 minutes, then I poured more on the cheesecake after releasing the springfrom pan so that it could pour down the cake.) You don't need to do exactly what I did, though. Just pour ganache on top once it has cooled. Keep in mind that the cold temperature of the cake will cause the ganache to firm up quickly, and you may have to pour more on top. Make sure you are drizzling it around the sides of the cake too, however you want to.
Save the rest of the ganache for decorations (if you whip the ganache when it's cold, you can pipe a beautiful decoration) or save it for something else.
Refrigerate until just before ready to eat. Enjoy!
{Recipe by David Lebovitz; Changes and added commentary by me.}

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Cake....not your grandma's chocolate cake.

This ain't no ordinary chocolate birthday cake. This cake got pizazz.
It's a Mexican Chocolate Cake!

Yeah, that's what I thought too.
Mexican Chocolate Cake has a bite to it either from peppers or cinnamon. I opted to go the cinnamon route and boy am I glad I did. 
This cake was to die for. So many people said this is the best chocolate cake they have had. It is super moist and SO flavorful. I also turned this into cake pops for a 1st birthday party (post coming) and they went fuh-fuh-fast! 
Ya wanna know the BEST part?!
It takes less than 5 minutes to get in the oven.
I'm not lying! Just look at the directions!

Mexican Chocolate Cake
Yields: 13" x 9" cake or A LOT of cake pops!

4 oz unsweetened chocolate 
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter 
1 cup hot water 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 cups sugar 
1 tsp. cinnamon (* The Twist*)
Pinch of salt 
1/3 cup buttermilk 
1 tsp. baking soda 
2 eggs, beaten 
1 tsp. vanilla 

2 oz unsweetened chocolate 
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter 
8 Tbsp. milk or cream
4 cups (~1 lb) powdered sugar 
1/4 tsp. cinnamon 
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, melt 4 oz chocolate and stick of butter in the hot water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Remove from heat and add the flour mixture. Mix well with a wire whisk. It will be really thick at this point. Stir in buttermilk, baking soda, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Pour into 13x9" pan or any size pan (I used baby 4" pans here) and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the top springs back when touched with a fingertip or it passes the toothpick test. 
While the cake is baking, make the frosting. In a heavy saucepan, melt 2 oz chocolate and 1/4 cup butter together. Add powdered sugar, milk, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 2 tsp. vanilla and beat well. You may need to add more milk or powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency. You can either pour it or spread it. The frosting should be pourable at this point. If it is too thin for spreading, you can firm it up slightly in the fridge.
When the cake comes out of the oven, let cool for 15 minutes, tort, layer and then pour the frosting over the top. Spread if desired. Hurry and cut yourself a piece before it all gets eaten.... or you can wait for the birthday person....I guess. let the cake chill in the fridge if not eating immediately. This will help solidify the frosting onto the cake and make it easier for transport.