Hot Fudge Cheesecake w/ Brownie Crust

So, I had some hot fudge leftover this past week.
Awww shucks, right?
And, well…I was totally cool with just eating it by the spoonful.  Like, no problem.  What.SO.Ever.
But then I thought…
I could be eating this by the forkful…
Atop cheesecake…
Which lay atop a large, thick intense chocolate brownie.

And the fork wins again.
I get some really good thinking done in front of that fridge of mine.
Like, I don’t have a large enough butter reserve, I need more limes (gin and tonic too, for that matter), I need to stop by bags of carrots and bunches of bananas, and there is no use in hiding chocolate behind the yogurt …

Screw the shower.

Watch as an idea comes to life…it is kind of the greatest.  Even if it is just a cheesecake.
We build from the bottom up…brownie crust first.

Butter + unsweetened chocolate is the base to the base.

My go to double boiler – glass bowl and smallest saucepan I can find.  Same set up, each time. Works like a dream.

Sugar, eggs, and a bit of flour round out the brownie.  KISS….Keep.  It.  Simple.  Silly…..

First goes the sugar…

Eggs are whisked…one at a time…(and then vanilla….always, vanilla)

Flour and salt round out the brownie batter…heed the warning and don’t over mix brownie batter.  Like.  Ever.  This has been a public service announcement.

Springform pan it goes…and let bowl licking commence.

Just the basics for the filling: Cream cheese, sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla.  No more.  No less.

Ready for some magic?

Just like that…we have a baked cheesecake, a table set, and hot fudge at the ready.
Honestly…I lost natural light as the cheesecake was being mixed…so you missed cream cheese, sugar,and flour being beat until smooth; eggs added one at a time; a lot of bowl scraping – different from bowl licking.

And then you expose your chubby hand to the world and drizzle/pour/drench your cake in hot fudge.

Keep it coming…because we are going for this end result…

Hot fudge waterfall.

Fridge thinking has yet and probably will never produce any major breakthrough plans/skeems ending world wars or curing cancer…however, at least, every now and then I buy fewer bananas and you get a Hot Fudge slathered cheesecake with a rich chocolate brownie crust to drool over…In the short run, it is a total win win.

Hot Fudge Cheesecake w/ Brownie Crust
 
Ingredients
Brownie Crust
  • 3 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate (not bittersweet/semi/milk)
  • 1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Unsalted Butter
  • 1+1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • ⅔ Cup All-Purpose Flour
Cheesecake Filling
  • 5- 8 Ounce Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1+3/4 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 5 Large Eggs
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla
Hot Fudge Topping - about 1+1/2 Cups (never had a problem with too much hot fudge!)
Instructions
Crust
  1. Line a 9inch springform pan's removable base with parchment paper. Butter sides or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. In a double boiler (bowl sitting atop a pan of simmering water ) or in microwave in 30 second bouts, stirring between each, melt together butter and chocolate. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in sugar until combined. (it will be rather grainy)
  5. Whisk in eggs and vanilla.
  6. Whisk together salt and flour. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients, and mix just until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan and place in preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out nearly clean with just a few crumbs sticking around.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare filling.
Note
  1. Brownie crust can be made a day or two before you prepare filling. Keep at room temperature and cover tightly with foil/plastic wrap.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, and flour until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Remember to scrape sides and bottom of bowl between each addition.
  4. To bake cheesecake in a water bath (makes for even baking), double wrap springform pan in heavy duty aluminum foil. Place wrapped spring form pan in a roasting pan ( I used a disposable one )
  5. Pour filling into crust, the filling will reach the very brim of the springform pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to reach about ½ way up the sides of springform pan. Place roasting pan with cheesecake into preheated oven and bake for about 75 to 90 minutes until top of cheesecake is browned/golden, the top is just barely firm to touch (the very center of cake should giggle only slightly when pan is nudged), and the top appears dry. Turn oven off and open oven door so it is just ajar (I place a wooden spoon in oven door to keep it just barely open) and let cheesecake sit in warm water bath for an additional hour. Remove from oven and water bath and remove tinfoil from around pan. Let cool completely on wire rack and then transfer cake to fridge and chill completely for at least 6 hours.
  6. If you are choosing to make hot fudge from scratch, make it while the cake is chilling. Recipe on previous post and to follow...
  7. Once chilled, remove from fridge and run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from sides of pan, remove side of pan from cake and transfer cake to a plate. Pour hot fudge onto the top of the cheesecake, spreading the fudge to the edges of the cheesecake, allowing fudge to drip down sides. Return cake to fridge, allowing fudge to thicken/harden - let chill until ready to serve. Chilling once fudge is atop cake will allow for easier slicing.

 

Hot Fudge topping … recipe here (my last post) or head to the grocery/local ice cream shoppe and grab your favorite.  Either way, you can’t go wrong.

 

 

 

butternut squash soup with parmesan cheese crisps

My counter is full of squash.  Acorn.  Butternut.  Spaghetti.  All rolling around and teeter-tottering about like vegetable weeble wobbles. Squash was not meant to lay about on a countertop.  I  fear that they will eventually end up cracked and splattered on the floor before I find the time and energy to create a dish that would be eatable …

I don’t mind the squash on my countertop as they are my  only fall decorations…I bet my CSA didn’t know they were providing a bedecking service once they started harvesting squash.  Perishable decorations however at some point in time need to be eaten.  I don’t have many dishes to hide squash in…and yes, I hide squash.  There is the ever so popular mac and cheese or the fancy schmancy butternut squash risotto, both of which claim to be crowd pleasers.  I am not sure about just eating it roasted because I have this misconception that it should be as sweet as a sweet potato, but it isn’t and it never will be.  And therefore,  I need to load up the vegetable with butter and brown sugar, and while I see very little wrong with this picture, I feel like I am pushing squash to be something it isn’t.  A sweet potato.  You see, they may have similar color…but no go on the level of sugar.  If the vegetable is bright orange, I have a level of sweetness that I inherently connect with it…sweet potatoes, sweet.  Carrots, sweet.  Yams, sweet.  Butternut squash, not sweet.  So upsetting!  So, over the years I have had quite a few of so-called failed dishes because they missed the flavor bullseye in my brain because I was hoping for a bit of sweetness when I should have been striving and expecting a savory end result…my mistake.  I am in the midst of reshaping my thinking.  Altering my taste buds.  Maturing if you will.

So, with this in mind…and more squash expected in this weeks CSA and a lack of any more counter space for fall decorations, and a craving for comfort in a bowl…I went in search of a decent soup recipe.  I knew going in, the basics of a butternut squash soup.  I knew how to roast the squash.  I knew how to saute my onion and garlic.  I knew how to add chicken stock and bring it to a boil.  I knew how to puree until smooth.  I knew to add cream at the end.  I knew to top with chopped chives and a dollop of crème fraîche.  I, however, needed help with the spices.  Deb of Smitten Kitchen to the rescue.   And come to find out…cumin, ginger, thyme, and sage are exactly what you need.  Que Simon and Garfunkel.  She is genius.  But I already knew that and I am betting you did too.

So with the right spices on board and a change in mind-set from sweet to savory…I made a bowl of roasted butternut squash soup that was quite enjoyable and necessary on Saturday as the cold rain fell and we curled up on the couch and settled in for a day of sweatpants and Netflix.

And seriously, the parmesan crisps are a must and take literally 6 minutes to whip up…maybe 8 if you are grating your own cheese, which huge props to you…I have a tendency to buy pre-shredded parmesan cheese because I abhor shredding cheese of any kind and plus I like to snack on parmesan cheese throughout the day…a pinch here and a pinch there…talk about salty goodness.

5.0 from 1 reviews
butternut squash soup with parmesan cheese crisps
 
Makes enough for 4 decent sized servings.
Ingredients
  • 1 Butternut Squash - medium in size
  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Sweet Onion, small dice
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2½ to 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1+1/2 Teaspoon Sage finely chopped
  • 1+1/2 Teaspoon Thyme finely chopped
  • 1+1/2 Teaspoon ground Cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon ground Ginger
  • ¼ Cup Heavy Cream (or half and half)
  • chives (optional)
  • Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream (optional)
  • Parmesan Crisps
  • 2 Tablespoons Freshly grated Parmesan per crisp.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Cut butternut squash and acorn squash in half, length wise. With a sturdy knife, slice off top of squash close to stem. Scoop out seeds and membranes. Lay face up on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and roast for about 30 to 45 minutes, until fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, scoop out the squash flesh and place in bowl, set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, saute until translucent. About 10 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth, cooled squash flesh, sage, thyme, cumin, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Working in small batches, transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth, transferring pureed soup back into original pan. Once all the soup is pureed, stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste. (if the soup is too thick, stir in a bit more broth until desired consistency is reached...I like a thicker soup, so I used only 2 +1/2 cups) Bring soup to a simmer over low heat and prepare parmesan crisps.
  6. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Neatly mound 2 tablespoonfuls of grated parmesan cheese per crisp on lined baking sheet 3 inches apart. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until edges are browned and centers are bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool. These are best slightly warm or at room temperature.
  8. Serve soup with a dollop of creme fraiche, chopped chives, and a parmesan crisp or two.

 

Chicken Bacon Ranch Grilled Cheese

I had a day off during the week.

Glorious.  Delicious.  Relaxing.  Exciting….kind of like skipping class, but without the consequences.

No alarm clock mid – week…whatttt?  Yeah, kind of awesome.  Lazy mornings that leak into mid-afternoon…my sweatpants are quite versatile, they can take me from pre-dawn to late afternoon…it is all in the accessories.  Trade off those slippers with socks and you are golden.

My mid-week day off was in exchange for weekend work.  I get two of these days once a month…which means I have to work one weekend a month.  In the world of pharmacy…this is a pretty good gig.  People still get sick after 5pm on Fridays… Weekends happen.  But days off during the week are a great exchange if you ask me…Now if you had this whole being an adult thing down, you would schedule eye/dental/doctor/hair/etc  appointments or do whatever it is adults do on their days off…clean?   Organize closets?  Prep a whole week worths of dinner?  Fold laundry?  I don’t know…but I don’t do those things until I have to….

No, I do zero of those above mentioned things… I lounge in sweatpants, watch endless amounts of Netflix and Hulu, drink coffee until late afternoon, catch up on my Google Reader, and spend the entire morning thinking of what to make for lunch.  I have time to make a kick ass lunch…a lunch not found in a brown paper sack or in my case, my purse…I just toss things in as I am walking out the door every morning…apple, yogurt, a box of soup from Trader Joe’s that will last me all week…all fits in my purse, no paper sack needed.   Saving the earth, one lunch at at time.

I had cheese on the brain this go around.  And bacon.  And was craving a favorite pizza combo.  I had hearty crusty bread.  Ranch, check.  Leftover roasted chicken, always.  It was destiny.

Let’s make a day off grilled cheese.  The best kind.

Ingredient round-up.

Buttered crusty bread.  Ranch.  Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese.  Chicken.  Bacon.

Done. Done. Done. Done. And. Done.

Step 1:  Slather the non-buttered side of bread with ranch.

Step 2:  Cheese.

And A LOT of it.

Step 3:  Leftover Roast Chicken

Step 4:  BACON!!!

Step 5: Even more cheese.

Step 6: Ranch slathered bread.

People, this is a masterpiece.

Step 7:  Grill it.  Or panini press it.

Step 8:  Admire the masterpiece.

A tad cocky, perhaps.  But this sandwich was AAAHHHMAAZZZING.

Step 9:  Sit back, put your slipper/sock clad feet up, flip on some Friday Night Lights, and enjoy your mid-week kick ass lunch.

You earned it.

That morning was rough.

 

 

Chicken Bacon Ranch Grilled Cheese
 
Makes 1 Sandwich
Ingredients
  • 2 Slices thick cut crusty bread.
  • 3 Slices Bacon, cut in half so you have 6 pieces of bacon
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3-4oz. Leftover Roasted Chicken, thinly sliced
  • 1-2oz. Extra Sharp Cheddar, thinly sliced
  • Extra Ranch Dressing for dipping - if you are like me and LOVE ranch.
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a papertowel lined plate (to drain excess grease) and drain off grease. If you do not have a panini press (join the club!), use this skillet to make the grilled cheese.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Take one slice of bread, butter side down and slather the other side of the bread with 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing (or a tad bit more if you like). Place half of the cheese on top of the ranch. Layer on chicken and bacon. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
  4. Slather remaining slice of bread with remaining ranch dressing and place atop the cheese, ranch side down, butter side up.
  5. Place sandwich on panini press and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is melty. If you do not have a panini press, do not fret. Place non-stick skillet over medium heat. Transfer sandwich to skillet and cook until bread becomes golden brown and the cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip sandwich and cook the other side of the sandwich until golden brown.  You may need to place a heavy pan atop the sandwich when you are grilling it, to smash it down a bit - helps stick it all together.  I used a square pyrex dish.
  6. Remove from skillet, slice in half, and enjoy immediately.

 

Cheddar Cheese Crackers

If some how or some way, I was left, stranded on a deserted island with only water and crackers to drink and eat for the rest of my life (or until rescue)…I would be A-OK with this meal plan.  I LOVE crackers and while I would prefer iced tea or maybe Diet Coke, water would be suitable on a deserted island.  Suppose the deserted island would be supplied with sun block?  I’d die of sunburn before thirst.

But crackers…crackers would actually be a top 3 food if given the choice.  I have to hide them from myself, on shelves in which I would need a step stool to even catch a glimpse of them ( I am fair skinned and short)…they sit next to the nut butters.  I have issues.  I used to eat sleeves of Townhouse as a child.  Clubhouse are my favorite.  Ritz are best for soups.

… 

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Shrimp and Grits

Ever feel like you are just one step behind, just a little late.  I think I am perpetually meant to be one step behind, I mean,  I am kind of good at it.  Getting to the party just a little past fashionably late.  Where you sneak in and close the door quietly behind you so that the party in the next room isn’t disrupted and so that you can sneak in without being truly noticed, because you don’t enjoying being the center of anything.  You slip your shoes off and place them next to a pair of wedges that you take notice of and quickly snag a glance at the designer/brand and make a quick mental note to add those to your wish list and wonder/hope if they are still available in your size.  You take quick inventory of your socks, praying there are no holes and that they are matching.   You toss your jacket and scarf over an empty chair and slip ever so quietly into the background of the party, scanning and searching for a friendly familiar face.

This one step behind phenomenon is kind of ironic, seeing how I am one of the most punctual people I know.  I learned early on that to be early is on time, on time is to be late, and to be late is to be left behind.  This may have pertained to team sports and practice and bus schedules and wasn’t meant to be a life lesson, but it has stuck with me.

I have gotten used to showing up to the party a bit late….I am just glad I get to the party, safe and sound.

So when I discovered the glories of grits, I just assumed I was probably the last to figure this out.  And I think I am.  The grit party started hours ago and here I am, sneaking in…trying to pretend that I have been here from the start.   But I haven’t and that is OK…it doesn’t matter when you show up, just that you do.  So here I am…tying on my party hat, grabbing a cocktail, and joining in on the party.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Shrimp and Grits
 
serves 3 to 4
Ingredients
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 Cup Stone Ground Grits (or polenta)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • ⅓ Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 Pound Shrimp, peeled,deveined, tails removed
  • 6 Strips Thick Cut Bacon, chopped
  • 2 Bunches of green onions, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons Lemon Juice (from a lemon shaped bottle is fine)
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir in grits and whisk to combine. Reduce temperature to low. Cook for about 20 minutes (or according to package directions) until water is absorbed and the grits have thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, milk, and cheese.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse shrimp and pat dry.
  3. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towel. Set aside.
  4. Discard all but 3 to 4 tablespoons of bacon grease. Add shrimp to bacon grease and cook until shrimp turn pink (just a few minutes).
  5. Add bacon, green onions, parsley, garlic, and lemon juice. Cook for about 3 more minutes.
  6. Serve the shrimp over a healthy helping of grits. Serve immediately.

adapted slightly from Bobby Flay