Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pumpkin Cheesecake Day: Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

Today is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day! Love this Fall Holiday, and this Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake is the best way to celebrate! Easy and delicious!

I always think that alcohol escalates chocolate, so I was thrilled when I found this recipe a few years ago in People Magazine. The original recipe for this Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake is from Betty Crocker. The recipe is a triple threat: chocolate, bourbon, cheesecake. Wow! Perfect for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake 

2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (35 to 40 cookies)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
4 Tbsp bourbon
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 1/2 tsp aromatic bitters
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted  (or chopped dark chocolate)

Toppings  (I consider topping's great without, but if you want to)

1/2 cup caramel topping (I have used Recchiuti)
2 tsp bourbon 
Dash aromatic bitters 
Toasted pecans (optional) 

Heat oven to 300ºF. Grease 9-inch springform pan with shortening or cooking spray. Wrap outside bottom and side of pan with foil to prevent leaking. In small bowl, mix crust ingredients. Press mixture into bottom and one inch up side of pan. Bake eight to 10 minutes or until set. Cool for five minutes.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy; do not overbeat. On low speed, gradually beat in sugar, then flour, and then eggs (one at a time), just until blended. Remove half of cream cheese mixture (about 3 cups) into another large bowl; reserve.

Into remaining cream cheese mixture, stir 2 Tbsp bourbon, pumpkin, 1 1/2 tsp bitters, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whisk until smooth. Spoon over crust into pan. Into reserved 3 cups of filling, stir 2 Tbsp bourbon, vanilla, and melted chocolate. Pour mixture over pumpkin layer directly in middle of pan. (This will create layers so that each slice includes some of each flavor.)

To minimize cracking, place shallow pan half-full of hot water on lower oven rack. Bake cheesecake 80 to 90 minutes minutes, or until edges are set but center of cheesecake still jiggles slightly when moved.

Turn oven off, and open oven door at least four inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven; place on cooling rack. Without releasing side of pan, run your knife around edge of the pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan on cooling rack for 30 minutes. Cover loosely; refrigerate at least six hours but no longer than 24 hours.

To release: Run knife around side of pan to loosen cheesecake again; carefully remove side of pan. Put cheesecake on serving plate.

I consider adding a rich topping optional, and I don't top this already rich cheesecake, but here's the original recipe in case you want it. Stir together caramel topping, 2 tsp bourbon and dash of bitters. To serve, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with pecans. Cover and refrigerate any remaining cheesecake. 

Photo: Betty Crocker

Friday, October 20, 2017

Haunted Skull Dark Chocolate Cakes

I love Nordicware pans. So creative in shapes and sizes. Not surprisingly the Skull Cakepans are favorites. I particularly like the Skull Cakelette Pan...and Nordicware has a great recipe for Haunted Skull Dark Chocolate Cakes on its website that works well with this pan! Dark Chocolate Skull Cakes are perfect for Halloween!



For cakeletes: 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 cup extra-dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicila
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon black food color, if desired

Chocolate Glaze:
3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325°F. 
Prepare Skull Cakelet pan with baking spray or brush with butter and dust with cocoa.
Whisk flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together.
In separate bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix butter and sugars together until creamy and lightened, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add extracts. Put mixer on low speed and add buttermilk alternately with  dry ingredients in 4 additions. Mix until smooth. Add black food color to desired shade if using.
Fill pan no more than 3/4 full in each well. Tap pan on top of a cutting board covered with heavy kitchen towel to evenly distribute batter and eliminate air bubbles from batter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Allow cakelets to cool in pan 5-8 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

I went to the Nordicware site to get a photo of the cakelette pan. It's out of stock today, but back in next week...or perhaps you can find it locally or on another site. Enjoy!

Prepare glaze by adding chocolate to heat-proof bowl. Warm cream until just beginning to steam and pour over chocolate, stirring with spatula to incorporate while chocolate melts. When all chocolate has melted, pour over cooled cakeletes.
Garnish as desired with candy decorations or decorating sprinkles.
Makes 12 cakes.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Top Chef

Fig Fudge Balls: Guest Post by Nancy J. Para aka Nancy Coco

I love when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide. Today I have a guest post from Nancy J Parra aka Nancy Coco aka Nell Hampton. Nancy J Parra is the author of over 25 published novels which include five mystery series. Her writing has been called witty and her protagonists plucky by reviewers around the world. Nancy is a member of Sisters in Crime and writes for the Killer Character Blog on the 8th of every month. Nancy loves to hear from readers. 

Nancy Coco 
Allie McMurphy, Mackinac Island, and Fudge!  

I enjoy writing the Mackinac Island Fudge Shop stories in the Candy-coated Mystery series. There is something so lovely about an island that does not allow any cars. It is filled with quaint Victorian cottages thee size of modern day mansions and shops filled with fudge and old-time photos. There are multiple state parks and bicycle rentals where you can drive along an eight-mile shore line.

Allie McMurphy runs the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop. She is something of an amateur sleuth getting into all kinds of mischief with her puppy Mal and her Kitty Carmella. The latest in the series, Oh, Fudge, takes place toward the end of Allie’s first tourist season as owner of her family business. Always working hard to fit into the tight-knit, Island society, Allie has volunteered to help at the Mackinac Island Butterfly House. Unfortunately, she and her dog, Mal, arrive in time to witness Allie’s cousin, Tori Andrews, kneeling over a dead woman and Tori’s hands are around the murder weapon.

Allie makes it her mission to clear her cousins good name and find the killer, but it isn’t easy. Especially when Allie learns that her boyfriend, Trent Jessop once dated Tori. And worse, Allie discovers Tori kissing Trent. There is much intrigue as Allie struggles to outsmart a killer and keep her boyfriend.

The best part of writing the series is getting to create new fudge recipes. One of my favorites from this book is Fig Fudge Balls. I’ll share it with you here:

Fig Fudge Balls 

1 1/2 cup cashews
2 cups figs with stems removed
3 Tbsp shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp honey
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Mix figs and cashews in food processor on high until you make a paste. Add remaining ingredients and process on high until well mixed. Roll into small balls. Sprinkle sea salt on top and enjoy! Bio: