Caramelized White Chocolate and Pumpkin Cheesecake

No idea what to do with that extra can (or half can) of pumpkin puree lurking around your kitchen? This cheesecake is a great way to use that and incorporate some fall flavours with a twist if you are pumpkin pie-d out from the last couple weeks. And by ‘with a twist’ I mean we add copious amounts of white chocolate and cream cheese to these so-called fall flavours.

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe is based off a Nigella’s recipe for London Cheesecake. I personally like how the London Cheesecake is denser and richer than the New York Cheesecake which has whipped egg whites and less egg yolks. I do Americanize this London cheesecake by adding more sugar than Nigella does. After making this basic cheesecake batter you split it into two bowls and add pumpkin to one half and the caramelized white chocolate to the other.

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

For the caramelized white chocolate that is a ingenious recipe from David Lebovitz. As someone who finds plain white chocolate too cloying this adds some dimension and toastiness that makes it have an almost dulce de leche taste to it. You can make the caramelized white chocolate ahead of time and you can find the recipe here.

The warm toasty notes from the caramelized white chocolate work splendidly with the cinnamon and spice in the cheesecake and sweet vanilla white chocolate offsets the more squash-y vegetable taste from the pumpkins. Or at least I think they taste kind of vegetable-y anyways.

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of caramelized white chocolate
7 oz of pumpkin puree
3 bricks of cream cheese at room temperature (18 oz)
5 oz of honey graham crackers
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup of sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Process graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. Add to a bowl with the melted butter and mix to combine. Line the bottom of a 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper then press the graham cracker and butter mixture to form an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Place in the fridge to set.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Beat cream cheese in a bowl until its smooth. Then add sugar. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time and then add the vanilla and lemon juice.
3. Put a kettle or pan on the stove and heat up water.
4. Split the cream cheese mixture evenly into two bowls. To one bowl add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger then beat well. To the other bowl add 3/4 cup of the caramelized white chocolate and mix well.
5. Line the outside of the chilled springform pan with foil so that it completely covers sides. This will protect it from the water in the water bath it will be cooked in.
6. Pour the pumpkin cream cheese mixture into the pan first and then pour the caramelized white chocolate cream cheese mixture over that. Use a knife to make swirls.
7. Place the springform pan into a larger roasting pan. Pour hot water from the kettle or pan into the roasting pan around the cheesecake. Only fill it about halfway up.
8. Put it into the oven and cook for 70 minutes. It should seem mostly set on the outside but still have some jiggle in the middle.
9. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and then let it cool completely before moving it into the fridge. It should chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours prior to eating.

Graham Crackers + Pumpkin

Graham Crackers + Pumpkin

Graham Cracker Crust

Graham Cracker Crust

Cheesecake Batter

Cheesecake Batter

Cheesecake Batter

Cheesecake Batter

Cheesecake Pre-Baking Post-Swirling

Cheesecake Pre-Baking Post-Swirling

Cheesecake Pre-Baking Post-Swirling

Cheesecake Pre-Baking Post-Swirling

Cheesecake Post-Baking

Cheesecake Post-Baking – Yes it cracked because I was too lazy to do the water bath. But you should do the water bath…

I think cheesecake always looks best topped with something whether it be berries or in this case caramelized white chocolate whipped cream and semi-sweet chocolate ganache.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup caramelized white chocolate (remainder post making the cheesecake)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/8 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of semisweet chocolate

1. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream with the caramelized white chocolate and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. Melt the semisweet chocolate with 1/8 cup of heavy cream. This can be over a double boiler but also with 30 second increments in the microwave. Mix until smooth.
3. Once cheesecake is cooled top evenly with the caramelized white chocolate whippped cream.
4. Once ganache has cooled a bit, but it still warm enough to be pourable, drizzle over the whipped cream.
5. Refrigerate.

I make this every holiday season and it seems to please both people who love pumpkin-everything and those who are less enthusiastic about pumpkin. Although I love pumpkin pie I am not one to eat tons of it because after a couple months of having both real and artificial pumpkin flavor injected into everything I get a little sick of it. This cheesecake on the other hand, for better or for the worse, I find I never grow tired of it 🙂



TIPS:
1. Obviously you can sub in pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger powder in the cheesecake if thats easier.
2. Make it a day ahead to ensure its properly chilled, cheesecake tastes so much better when its properly cold.

Bouchon Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

So naturally after a healthy post I follow up with something on the other end of the scale. My mom got me Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook and having heard really great things about it I was excited to try something. I started off with the TKO cookies and the Nutter Butter’s but thought a more unique thing to share would be the Flan Tart! I slightly adapted it by omitting the apricots and adding a chocolate ganache to the top of it.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Look at that thing. I personally love flan, crème brĂ»lĂ©e and all sorts of custard based desserts. This filling isn’t exactly flan per se as it does not include condensed milk which is typical of flan but more of a simple custard based simply on whole milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar. It has a pâte brisĂ©e crust and you can use Bouchon Bakery’s recipe or one that you are more familiar with, as long as it fits a 9 inch round pan.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

The recipe’s in Bouchon Bakery are very exact and contain a lot of useful information. If you follow directions closely you will end up with a great product. One of the tips I really liked is to let muffin batter sit for a day as this soaks the flour and produces a more moist final product. Having made countless batches of dry-ish muffins despite vast amounts of oil or buttermilk this might be the clue I’ve been missing all these years! I plan on trying one of the muffin recipes and reporting back here to see how that goes 🙂

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

One important thing to note is that they call for Bird’s Custard Powder for the recipe. Coincidentally had this as I had been to Cost Plus World Market and they had this in their section of international foods a while ago (custard powder is quite popular in the UK). If you don’t have it I looked at the ingredients and it is entirely cornstarch with flavoring and food coloring. So you can most likely sub cornstarch for it and maybe add some extra vanilla. Your final custard might be less yellow but taste should not be too highly affected.

INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE PATE BRISEE RECIPE SEE INSIDE THE BOOK HERE

FOR THE FLAN TART RECIPE SEE INSIDE THE BOOK HERE

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

INGREDIENTS:

– 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
– 1/2 cup whole milk or cream

1. Melt the chocolate and milk together over a double boiler or by microwaving for 30 second increments with whisking in between.
2. Spread over the cooled flan tart.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

TIPS:
– As before, if you do not have Bird’s Custard Powder you can order it online, find it at Cost Plus World Market or substitute for cornstarch and extra vanilla flavoring.
– Incorporating coconut in this, whether by subbing in coconut milk or topping with toasted coconut would be quite good.
– Another option is omitting the chocolate ganache and topping with fresh berries.

Slice

Slice

Azucar

So I’m pretty when people are thinking desserts in San Diego their first thought is Extraordinary Desserts. Which is completely understandable and pretty fantastic as far as desserts go, however I invite you to consider Azucar in Ocean Beach as well. Although it bills itself as a Cuban style bakery, they go beyond that and have fantastic offerings.

Azucar's Havana Cake

Azucar’s Havana Cake

Azucar

Azucar

Its definitely smaller and more casual than Extraordinary Desserts but I think a perfect afternoon would be perusing the antique stores on Newport Av. and then stopping and getting some coffee and dessert at Azucar. The cakes are mini sized and mini priced (your waistline and wallet will thank you!) but still feel very high-end and complex, with ingredients like passion fruit curd, flambeed pineapple, and champagne infused chocolate.

Azucar's Cake Display

Azucar’s Cake Display

You can also get yummy sandwiches (try the Cuban naturally) as well as amazing coffee. They also do more casual pastries like their flaky pastries with guava or cheese, ham croquettes, cookies, brownies, scones and cupcakes, etc. Personally I prefer their sweet to their savoury. As a disclaimer I will say that in life I also prefer sweet to savoury.

Azucar's Cake Display

Azucar’s Cake Display

As far as their more elaborate little cakes these are an incredibly affordable $6 bucks. One of my favorites is a white cake with passion fruit curd, raspberries, and a marshmallow toasted top. Next on my to try list is one that had rum soaked cake layered with coconut cream and flambeed pineapple. And their birthday cake is also inspired by the Momofuku birthday cake which would please anyone with a super sweet tooth. However, what I actually got this time was a white layer cake with dulce de leche filling and a vanilla frosting with sprinkles. Behold.

Vanilla Cake with Dulce de Leche

Vanilla Cake with Dulce de Leche

Sprinkle Close Up

Sprinkle Close Up

It WAS delicious. A little too sweet with the frosting but I tend to not be a big frosting person anyways. The cake is so moist and flecked with little vanilla beans (play find the specks on the first image of this post!). It pairs incredibly well with dulce de leche because really what doesn’t pair well with dulce de leche.

The other item I tried was their mojito cookie. This was awesome. The cookie is thin but chewy and a light green inside, topped with granulated sugar. It really does taste like a mojito sans the alcohol component. But the fresh mint and lime flavor with the texture from the granulated sugar really makes this cookie. And yes I had a bite on the way home before I was able to take a picture of it. Life happens.

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie - So green!

Mojito Cookie – So green!

I’d like to also point out that the service at Azucar is great. Everyone is really friendly and they don’t mind at all when people like me stand there for 20 minutes and read all the descriptions of every cake 3 times before deciding what I want to take home. Usually when I’m picking desserts there’s 2 that stand out of maybe 10 options but here I think I could’ve been happy with almost any of the cakes. It helps that I like that they use Latin inspired ingredients like tropical fruits and dulce de leche (which I love). Until next time I’m in OB I guess…

Azucar

Azucar

Azucar

4820 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 523-2020

http://iloveazucar.com/

Triple-Whiskey Double-Chocolate Cupcakes

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day we wanted to come up with an appropriate recipe to celebrate this holiday with. At first we thought of chocolate and Bailey’s since that’s a classic pairing but ultimately decided there were enough of these recipes so came up with this Triple-Whiskey Double-Chocolate Cupcake: Chocolate cupcakes filled with whiskey simple syrup, whiskey cream and topped with chocolate ganache and whiskey caramel.

Whiskey Chocolate Cupcake

Whiskey Chocolate Cupcake

You can adjust how much whiskey you want to add and this recipe definitely works for bourbon or rum as well.

Whiskey Custard Filling

Whiskey Custard Filling

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:

Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Whiskey Simple Syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup whiskey

Whiskey Custard:
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 sugar
2 egg yolks
1 heaped tbsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod

Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup of heavy cream
8 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate

Whiskey Caramel:
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup of heavy cream, warmed
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp whiskey

Procedures:
Chocolate Cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Fit the 12 molds of a muffin tin with paper muffin cups.
2.Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 3. With a stand mixer or a hand mixer and a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for two minutes, until it is blended into the butter.
4. Add the egg, then the yolk, beating for 1 minute between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Beat in the vanilla, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear.
6. Scrape down the bowl and add the buttermilk, mixing until incorporated, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients.
7. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, and mix it in by hand with a rubber spatula.
8. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared molds. Bake for 22 – 25 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are springy and a tester inserted in the centers comes out clean. Transfer the muffin pan to a cooling rack and allow the cakes to cool.

Whiskey Simple Syrup:
1. In a saucepan, heat the whiskey and the sugar until thesugar is fully dissolved, stirring occasionally.
2. Let it cool.

Whiskey Custard:
1. Whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar in a bowl.
2. Mix the cream and milk in a heavy medium saucepan under medium heat and heat until its close to boiling.
3. Lower heat then slowly whisk cream and milk into egg mixture. Return mixture to saucepan.
4. Stir over low heat until the mixture thickens, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to
bowl.
5. Stir in whiskey and vanilla. Cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate.

Whiskey Caramel:
1. Combine the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan; stir to mix and melt.
2. Cook over low heat, using the handle of the pan to swirl the liquid and ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved. (From this stage forward, do not touch the caramel with a spoon or spatula until the final step.) It should be absolutely clear. This takes about 4 minutes
3. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil and cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the caramel turns a dark amber color, like maple syrup (about 10 to 12 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Carefully add the warm cream to the caramel; the caramel will froth and steam.
5. Return the pan to low heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to dissolve any solidified caramel until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and whiskey.
6. Let cool.

Chocolate Ganache:
1. Cook the heavy cream and chocolate on the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

ASSEMBLY:
1. Cut cones in the cooled cupcakes and slice off the end of the cones so you only have a “cap” like so .
2. Use a pastry brush to brush the inside of the cupcakes with the whiskey simple syrup.
3. Use a teaspoon or pastry bag to fill the cavity in the cupcake with whiskey custard.
4. Cap the cupcakes.
5. Use a spatula or knife to spread the ganache on the cupcakes.
6. Lastly, use a spoon to swirl glaze onto the top of the cupcakes (if the caramel hardened microwave it for a couple seconds to loosen it again).

whiskeycaramelcupcakes2

TIPS:
1. Feel free to adjust the amount of whiskey (or whatever alcohol you want to use) according to taste. You can add less whiskey to the custard or substitute water for some of the whiskey in the simple syrup for example.
2. You can make the custard, caramel and ganache the day before to make it easier.
3. If you’re feeling lazy you can make the ganache in the microwave: mix the cream and chocolate and microwave for 35 second increments, mixing in between until its all melted.

Whiskey Caramel based on this recipe.

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe based on this recipe