Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients

Base
6 oz chocolate bourbon biscuits, crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter

Filling

1 lb Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
6 oz sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 oz dark chocolate
3 eggs

Icing

8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lb icing sugar, sifted
6 oz dark cooking chocolate
toasted flaked almonds

Method

  1. To make the base, combine the biscuit crumbs, sugar and butter and use the mixture to line a greased 9-inch springform tin. Bake the mixture in a preheated moderate oven (160°C/325°F) for 10 minutes.
  2. To prepare the filling, beat the cheese and sugar with the milk and vanilla essence. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water and beat it into the mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Pour the mixture over the base and bake the cake in a preheated moderate oven (160°C/325°F) for 40 minutes. Cool the cake in the oven for 1 hour before removing it and loosening the rim. Cool, then chill. Decorate just before serving.
  3. To make the icing, first melt the chocolate. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, milk, vanilla and salt until thoroughly blended. Add the sifted icing sugar gradually, beating well after each addition. Stir in the melted chocolate and beat well. Use a palette knife to cover the cake with the icing. Sprinkle toasted flaked almonds around the edge.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Source: Cheesecakes

Italian-style Panna Cotta with Peaches

Ingredients

1-1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons water
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup mild honey
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract

Lemon-thyme Peaches

1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
3 peaches, peeled if desired, pitted, and thinly sliced

Method

  1. To make the panna cotta, sprinkle gelatin over water in a small heavy saucepan and let stand for 1 minute to soften. Stir in cream and salt, then heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring, until gelatin has dissolved.
  2. Whisk together yogurt, honey, and almond extract, then whisk in cream mixture.
  3. Pour mixture into four small bowls and chill, covered, until set, at least 8 hours.
  4. To prepare the peaches, mince lemon thyme with sugar, then toss with peaches. Let macerate, stirring occasionally, at room temperature for 20 minutes. While peaches macerate, let panna cotta stand at room temperature.
  5. To serve, top bowls of panna cotta with peaches and their juice. Drizzle with additional honey if desired.

Makes 4 servings.


Tip for Unmolding Panna Cotta

The translation from Italian — “cooked cream” — doesn’t begin to convey how luscious the gently gelled sweet cream mixture called panna cotta is. The amount of gelatin determines how tender the results will be. If you don’t plan to unmold the dessert, you can play a bit with the gelatin, lowering it to a point where the panna cotta is set so softly that it holds its shape on a spoon but dissolves into a puddle on your tongue, like this one.

If you want to try molded versions, be sure to lightly oil your molds first and chill the panna cotta well, at least 6 hours. When it’s time to turn them out, dip each mold for about 10 seconds in a bowl of warm water, then dry off the bottom before inverting it onto a plate.


Source: Gourmet Italian

Crème Brûlées with Chocolate and Sweet Tonka Bean

Ingredients

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tonka bean
2-1/2 cups heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup demerara sugar or other raw cane sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 225ºF.
  2. Place six brûlée dishes or flameproof ramekins into a shallow roasting pan and fill the pan with water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.
  3. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Using a nutmeg grater, grate the tonka bean, then mix with the chocolate. Put the cream into a saucepan and heat to just below boiling point, then pour over the chocolate and mix gently until the chocolate has melted.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolks and granulated sugar using an electric handheld mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat the chocolate cream, a little at a time, into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour into the dishes in the bain-marie and bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until set.
  6. Let cool, then chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. To serve, sprinkle demerara sugar over the top of each dish, then caramelize using a kitchen blowtorch.

Tip

If you do not have a kitchen blowtorch, sprinkle the creme brfil6es with the sugar and put on a baking sheet. Place under a hot broiler until the sugar caramelizes.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Chocolat


Tonka Bean

Chocolate Strudel

Ingredients

1 cup regular flour
1/2 a beaten egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
a few drops of vinegar
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

Filling

3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup vanilla sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup heavy cream
a pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tbsp fine sugar
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate, grated
2-1/2 oz chopped walnuts
confectioner’s sugar

Method

  1. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
  2. Beat together the egg, salt, water, vinegar and 1-1/4 tbsp of the melted butter. Pour this mixture into the well. Mix all the ingredients together to a dough.
  3. Knead the dough on a well-floured board until smooth and elastic (this will take about 15 minutes).
  4. Put the dough into a floured bowl and cover with a cloth. Leave for 15 minutes.
  5. While the dough is resting make the filling.
  6. Beat together the butter and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.
  7. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition.
  8. Add the walnuts, cream, cinnamon, chocolate and raisins and mix well.
  9. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry, and then gradually beat in the fine sugar. Fold this mixture gently into the chocolate mixture.
  10. Cover the work surface with a large, clean cloth and dust the cloth with flour.
  11. Put the dough into the middle of the cloth and brush the top with melted butter. Working around the dough, roll it out to a thickness of 1/8 inch.
  12. Brush it with more butter and, using four hands (you’ll need to enlist help!), stretch the dough outwards as thinly as possible. Try to work around the dough so it does not tear. Cut the dough into a rectangle measuring 14- x 18-inch.
  13. Butter a large cookie sheet. Spoon the filling onto the strudel pastry, leaving a margin of 2 inches around three of the edges. Fold the margins over the filling and brush the remaining pastry with the melted butter. Gently lift the cloth so that the dough rolls itself up. Roll the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, basting with melted butter once or twice, until golden and crisp.
  14. Remove the strudel from the oven and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Cut into pieces and serve warm or cold.

Makes a 14-inch strudel.

Source: Chocolate Cooking

Peruvian Pastry Dessert with Dulce de Leche

Ingredients

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
9 egg yolks, plus 1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pisco (brandy produced in Chile and Peru)
vegetable oil, for frying
2-1/2 cups Dulce de Leche
confectioners’ (icing) sugar, for decoration

Method

  1. Pile the flour on a work counter and make a well in the center. Pour the egg yolks and salt into the center of the well and, using your hands, work out from the center to combine the ingredients and form a soft dough. Knead thoroughly, adding the pisco to the dough as you go, for 10 minutes until the dough can form a ball. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  2. Roll the rested dough out on a floured surface with a rolling pin as thinly as possible. Cut the dough into 5 x 3-inch rectangles, then roll each rectangle into a tube, sealing it with egg white.
  3. Heat plenty of vegetable oil in a large pan over high heat and fry the tubes for around 5 minutes, until they are lightly golden. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Cool.
  4. Put the dulce de leche in a piping bag fitted with a nozzle. Fill the tubes and dust with confectioners’ sugar to finish.

Makes 10 pieces.

Source: Peru Cookbook