Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nigella's Chocolate Cheesecake

If you are looking for an amazingly rich dessert, Nigella's Chocolate Cheesecake is the one. I have made this several times and pulled this recipe out again to make for Christmas Eve. It really is fabulous. It is very rich like I said so serve small pieces.


Cheesecake base:

  • 1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa

Cheesecake filling:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped small
  • 2 1/2 cups cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon custard powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water


  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dark corn syrup
  • Special euipment: 9-inch springform pan


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the base, process the graham crackers to make rough crumbs and then add the butter and cocoa. Process again until it makes damp, clumping crumbs and then tip them into the pan. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan to make an even base and put into the freezer while you make the filling.

Put a kettle on to boil.

Melt the chocolate either in a microwave or double boiler, and set aside to cool slightly.

Beat the cream cheese to soften it, then add the sugar and custard power, beating again to combine. Beat in the whole eggs and then the yolks, and the sour cream. Finally add the cocoa dissolved in hot water and melted chocolate and mix to a smooth batter.

Take the springform tin out of the freezer and line the outside of the tin with a good layer of cling wrap, and then another layer of strong foil over that. This will protect it from the water bath.

Sit the springform tin in a roasting pan and pour in the cheesecake filling. Fill the roasting pan with just boiled water to come about half way up the cake tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The top of the cheesecake should be set, but the underneath should still have a wobble to it.

Peel away the foil and cling film wrapping and sit the cheesecake in its tin on a rack to cool. Put in the refrigerator once it is no longer hot, and leave to set, covered with plastic overnight. Let it lose its chill before unspringing the cheesecake to serve.

To make the chocolate sauce: very gently melt the chopped chocolate, cream and syrup. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take off the heat and whisk it to a smooth sauce. Let it cool a little, and pour it over the chocolate cheesecake on its serving plate.

Recipe courtesy Nigella Lawson of the Food Network

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lemon Ricotta Cookies With Lemon Glaze

Giada's Lemon Ricotta Cookies are one of my favorite cookie recipes. I think they are so much better than sugar cookies but I have never been a fan of sugar cookies. These cookies are so tender and delightfully lemony. I make many of my friends and family a goodie basket for the Holidays and these are always in them.



  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.


In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.


Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container.

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Favorite Pecan Pie

I am going to continue with my Thanksgiving feasting and add one last recipe and it is a good one. This is a very good but not too sweet pecan pie. It also has chocolate and coffee in it so I knew it was going to be good. This great recipe yet again comes for Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.


makes 8 servings

3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) pecan halves or pieces
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 9-inch single crust, partially baked and cooled

Getting ready: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

In a large bowl, whisk the corn syrup and brown sugar together until smooth.. Whisk in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until you have a smooth, foamy mixture. Add the espresso powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and give the batter a good mix. Rap the bowl against the counter a couple of times to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then stir in the pecans and chocolate. Turn the filling into the crust.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make a foil shield for the crust by cutting a 9-inch circle out of the center of an 11-or 12-inch square of aluminum foil.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Place the foil shield on top of the pie—the filling will be exposed, the crust covered by the foil. Bake the pie for another 15 to 20 minutes (total baking time is 30 to 35 minutes), or until it has puffed (the middle and the edges should be fairly evenly puffed), is beautifully browned and no longer jiggles when tapped. Transfer the pie plate to a rack, remove the shield and cool to room temperature.

Serving: Pecan pie is good at any temperature, and different at each one. It’s softest and most puddingish eaten warm (about 45 minutes out of the oven), most flavorful eaten at room temperature and most candy-like when it is chilled. At any temperature, it’s good with ice cream—vanilla, chocolate or coffee would be my choices.

Storing: Once cooled to room temperature, the pie can be covered and refrigerated for 1 day.

Recipe from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nutty Greens with Bacon and Blue Cheese

I made this dish to go with our Thanksgiving meal. I thought these beans were unbelievably delicious. At first I got some grumbling that I did not make the traditional "green bean casserole" (BORING!.....but good I must say) but after everyone had tried some there were no longer any complaints. I could not get enough of these. For a healthier version one could discard the bacon drippings and use olive oil but hey, it was Thanksgiving so I was all about the bacon drippings. :)

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound haricots verts, trimmed
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, cut into small chunks (recommended: Shropshire)
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted whole pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the haricots verts and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the beans from the water and immediately place in a bowl of ice water. Remove the haricots verts from the ice water and set aside in a medium bowl.

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and place on paper towels. Add the beans to the bacon drippings and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the blue cheese and toss just until it starts to melt. Break the cooked bacon into bite-size pieces and add to pan. Finish by stirring in the toasted chopped pecans. Season with the freshly ground black pepper and just a tiny pinch of kosher salt. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy Claire Robinson via The Food Network.com

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