I was realizing how most of the food I post is under the dessert or baked goods category. It made me think, "Uh maybe I need to start incorporating some vegetable side dishes, meats or beans, or something aside from dessert." But, I soon came back to Kamille reality and the truth is...I don't enjoy cooking nearly as much as baking. It's not that cooking isn't fun, but it comes in waves in my house. I really do like it, but right now in the state of affairs, cooking is a job that needs to get checked off the list. Hence, resulting in mindless 'make the doughnuts' fashion when it comes to cooking a meal. It's a chore and I'm lacking creativity to put forth anything tantalizing enough to write about (I feel like I'm always making eggs as a result). Don't worry, the pizzazz will come back soon.
However, in the meantime, I've been putting forth my energy into baking. Whether it's homemade bread (a loaf is sitting on the counter right now), making healthier snacks for my family, or finally making those pecan bars I've been wanting to make for well over a year and a half (they required 2 lbs of pecans--you can see why I didn't take the plunge). And as with most culinary tasks there are those which fall under the lengthy & advanced cook definition, lengthy & intermediate and easy (because anything that is lengthy almost always never falls under the easy). Although I enjoy the lengthy challenge, there are times when easy yet tasty (without anything from a box) is desperately needed. So I present you with these Mascarpone Chocolate Cheesecakes.
I think this took me a total of 50 minutes (this didn't include the chill time in the fridge). The recipe says they should chill for 4 hours, but really, I think it's all a matter of preference. You could just as easily let them cool to room temperature then grab a spoon, which the result would be creamy billows melting across your mouth. However, if you chill them you will get the more firm taste one is accustomed to when eating cheesecake (personally I prefer more billowy and less dense). I have also realized that what may come as second nature to me is what scares most people out of the kitchen. So let me give you some pointers on making cheesecake (and specifically these cheesecakes).
- When recipes call for heating up heavy cream to which you will add chopped chocolate (which is called a ganache--it's what is used to make truffles), you should chop it up. However, in this instance, it's okay if the chocolate is in bigger chunks, because the chocolate to cream ratio is 4:1, so you have more time to stir the cream with chocolate, in order for the chocolate to melt.
- Always cool down the chocolate mixture or any hot cream mixture when adding to eggs. That is unless you want scrambled eggs hidden within. If you don't feel like eating breakfast with your dessert, resist the temptation thinking warm is equivalent to room temperature.
- Always, Always, Always (was that enough always?) use a bain marie when making cheesecakes or baked custards. A bain marie is a hot water bath. You take your cheesecake pan or ramekins with the uncooked mixture inside and place it in a roasting pan, 9x13 pan or any pan with sides taller than the ramekins, springform, or cake pan. You will need to boil water in your kettle or get very hot water from your tap. Place your ramekins inside a rectangular pan and set it on the rack in the oven. Now gently pour the water into the rectangular pan without splashing any water on the cheesecake, until the water reaches the middle part of the outside of the ramekins.
- Bain Marie: By baking your cheesecake in a bain marie, you are relying on the hot water to help with the baking process, not just the dry heat from the oven. This method will result in a creamier cheesecake and not a dry, dense one. **if you're making a big cheesecake, you will need to wrap the bottom with heavy duty aluminum foil, so the water doesn't seep through the springform pan.**
- Never open the oven door while baking cheesecakes. Don't be tempted to open it (I know we all think by opening it the cooking will somehow be closer to being done). By opening the door you alter the temperature, which causes those cracks in the middle of cheesecakes.
- If your making a big cheesecake, and the time is done. Turn off the heat, but leave cheesecake in the oven with door closed for an additional hour.
- Remove the cheesecake from the water and let it cool on a rack to room temperature.
Mascarpone Chocolate Cheesecakes (printable recipe)
This is another recipe adapted from my Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey book. If I haven't spoken of its praises enough, then this recipe is another reason why you should stop stalling and go get it. If you're not up for it, stick with me and I'll most likely be pulling a few dozen more of it. What I like about these is they are less finicky than your typical cheesecake, don't require as much cream cheese, and are individual servings. Oh yeah & they're crustless...so gluten & wheat sensitive can indulge.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (see note above)
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese (you can find some for a cheaper price at Trader Joe's)
- 1/4 cup sugar (okay, so seriously, I don't think this really needs sugar--I say you could do 2 Tb and be fine)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (At Costco they sell gluten-free pure vanilla extract for a big amount & good price)
- pinch of salt
- 1 Tb rum, brandy or Grand Marnier (optional)
- Top with whipped cream, sliced strawberries, raspberries or orange segments.
- Boiling water for bain Marie
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325.
In a saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Remove it from the heat once it starts to boil. Add the chopped chocolate and whisk till all the chocolate is melted. Let it come to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, whisk or stir together mascarpone & sugar till creamy. Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. Add the vanilla, salt & liquor of choice.
Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the mascarpone cheese mixture and whisk till smooth.
Put eight 4-ounce custard cups, ramekins or small ovenproof coffee cups in an empty 9x13 pan or roasting pan. Divide the cheesecake mixture evenly among the ramekins.
Put the baking dish in the oven and gently pour the hot water into the pan (see notes above on bain marie). Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake until the tops of the cheesecake appear solid but jiggle slightly when shaken, 30 minutes. The perfect consistency is soft, but not liquid. Transfer the pots from the baking sheet to a wire rack. Let them come to room temperature. Then, cover each pot with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 4 hours. Enjoy!