Chocolate Explosion Cheesecake



  • 2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

Chocolate Layer:

  • 6 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cheesecake Layer:

  • 1/2 cup caramel syrup
  • 1 (16 1/2-ounce) package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 6 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C.
  2. For the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the melted butter, stirring to combine. Press the crust into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 6 minutes; let cool.
  3. For the chocolate layer: Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter (or microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes total). Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and flour until just combined. Pour into the bottom of the cooled crust and bake for 15 minutes; let cool.
  4. For the cheesecake layer: Spread the caramel topping evenly over the cooled chocolate layer. Cut the cookie dough crosswise into 1-inch slices. Place the slices in an even layer over the caramel, pressing gently together to seal the edges.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and flour until just combined. Stir in the sour cream. Pour the mixture over the cookie dough layer and bake until the cake is cracked and browned around the edge, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and gently run a knife around the edges to release the crust from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely.
  6. For the ganache: Using a double boiler, combine the chocolate and cream and melt (or microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 1 minute total). Spread over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.

Strawberry and Rosemary-Caramel Buckwheat Tart

makes one 9″ round tartfor tart crust:

  • 100 gr buckwheat flour
  • 160 gr AP flour
  • 50 gr sugar
  • 7 Tbspn butter, cold and cut in pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3-4 Tbspn cold water


  1. Using a food processor or pastry cutter, mix the buckwheat and AP flours and sugar until combined. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the size of small peas.
  2. Add the egg yolk and gradually add the water just until a dough begins to form when you press it between two fingers. Do not overmix.
  3. Form the pastry into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  5. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and press the dough into the tart pan. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment paper, and weigh down using dry beans or pie weights. Return to freezer/refrigerator for a few minutes if the dough has softened.
  6. Bake for ~13-15 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove the beans and the parchment paper and continue to bake for 3-5 minutes more, until the crust has completely turned golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

for rosemary-caramel:

  • 100 gr sugar
  • ~2 heaping Tbspn fresh rosemary leaves (~1 1/2 large sprigs of rosemary)
  • 3 Tbspn butter
  • 1/2 tspn coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tspn freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Have all ingredients pre-measured and ready next to the stove.
  2. In a small, light-colored saucepan, wet the sugar with just enough water to make it the consistency of wet sand (~1 – 1 1/2 Tbspn water). Add the rosemary leaves.
  3. Cook the sugar and rosemary on medium heat. Do not stir once the sugar starts boiling–swirl the pan around gently to insure even cooking. Cook until the sugar is a deep amber color, right before it is about to burn. Immediately add the butter and salt and whisk thoroughly. Be careful–this will sputter!
  4. As soon as the butter has completely melted, remove from heat and carefully add the heavy cream, whisking continuously.
  5. Once the cream has incorporated, pour the caramel into another heat-resistant container to cool, straining through a fine mesh sieve to remove unevenly cooked sugar, if necessary. Let cool briefly. Stir in the lemon juice. Let cool briefly, and spread a thin layer onto the bottom of the tart crust. Save any extra caramel for other uses. Let the caramel cool to set.

for cream:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 150 gr sugar
  • 2 Tbspn AP flour
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract


  1. Bring the milk and cream to just a simmer.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar. Whisk in the flour.
  3. Using the simmering milk, temper the egg mixture by adding a little bit of the hot liquid at a time, whisking constantly.
  4. Return the milk and egg mixture to heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the saucepan until the mixture thickens and can thickly coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Immediately remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  6. Let cool. Once cool, pour on top of the caramel in the tart crust and smooth. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let it set.

for strawberry syrup and final assembly:

  • 12 oz. (~285 gr) frozen strawberries, thawed with juices
  • 1 tspn (~5 gr) lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tbspn sugar, to taste
  • fresh strawberries, sliced or whole


  1. Extract all the juice from the frozen strawberries by pressing them through a fine mesh strainer. You should have a little more than a 1/2 cup of juice. Set the pulp aside for other uses.
  2. Boil the strawberry juice until it has reduced by more than a half (~3-4 Tbspn left).
  3. Stir in the lemon juice and then stir in the sugar to taste. Let cool briefly.
  4. Arrange the fresh strawberries on top of the prepared tart. Brush the strawberries with the slightly warm strawberry syrup.

Swedish Caramel Almond Cake (Toscakaka)


For the cake:
  • 70ml milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
For the topping:
  • 150g flaked almonds
  • 125g butter
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 50ml milk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional, could replace with vanilla)


  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Grease a deep 9″ round tin (preferably with a removable bottom) and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  3. Stir the lemon juice into the milk and leave to sit (to make buttermilk, you can replace with 75ml if you have it on hand).
  4. Toast the almond flakes in a oven tray for 5-7 minutes until they’re a light golden brown, then set aside.
  5. Melt the butter in a saucepan then pour into a bowl and leave to cool (keep the pan to use later).
  6. Whip the eggs, sugar and vanilla together on medium-high for 5 minutes, until the mixture is a yellowy-cream colour and very thick. While it whisks, sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together. Sieve 1/3 of the flour mixture over the egg bowl then gently fold in with a big metal spoon or large spatula. Drizzle half of the milk over the top and fold in. Repeat with the next 1/3 of flour, the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour. Finally drizzle half of the butter over the top, fold in, then repeat with the remaining butter. Be gentle but thorough, scraping the bottom – it’s easy to get little pockets of flour. Carefully transfer to the tin. Tap on the counter once to remove any big air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and set – when 15 minutes have gone, start making the topping.
  8. Place the toasted almonds, butter, sugar, milk, salt and espresso powder into the saucepan and stir as the butter melts. Keep heating for a few minutes – it should bubble and thicken slightly.
  9. Turn the oven up to 200C, then remove the cake to a rack and pour the glaze over the top. Spread the almonds out into an even layer. Place in the top of the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until the glaze is dark brown and bubbling.
  10. Cool for a few minutes then slide a knife around the edge of the tin to loosen it and remove the cake to a rack.
  11. Best eaten once it’s cooled to room temperature, though I have to admit to trying a warm slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It keeps well in an airtight tin for two days and is still alright on the third.

(Makes about 8-10 slices)

Passionfruit and Espresso Tosca Cake

makes one 9-inch round cake
or one 6-inch octagon and four 3-inch hexagonsfor cake

  • 58 g whole milk
  • 75 g passionfruit purée
  • 5 Tbspn (71 g) unsalted butter
  • 150 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • ½ tspn baking soda
  • ¼ tspn salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150 g sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

for topping

  • 150 g sliced almonds, toasted
  • 9 Tbspn (125 g) unsalted butter
  • 125 g light brown sugar
  • 50 g whole milk
  • ½ tspn salt
  • 1 tspn espresso powder
  • 1 vanilla bean, optional
  • flaked sea salt
  1. for cake. Preheat oven to 165° C. Grease one 9 x 3-inch pastry ring (or equivalent) and place on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, stir to combine the milk and passionfruit purée. Set aside.
  3. In a small, light-colored saucepan, melt the butter. Continue cooking until the solids drop to the bottom and the butter turns golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  5. Suspend a mixer bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract in the mixer bowl until warm to the touch. Remove from the simmering water and continue whisking on high, until the mixture falls from the whisk in thick ribbons.
  6. In three additions, gently fold in the flour mixture, alternating with the passionfruit and milk mixture. Finally, fold in the melted browned butter, mixing just enough to incorporate the butter. Do not overmix.
  7. Immediately transfer the batter to the prepared pastry ring. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden and set.
  8. for topping. When 15 minutes have passed in the baking time, start the topping. In a saucepan, combine the sliced almonds, butter, brown sugar, milk, salt, and espresso powder. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the saucepan, and add the pods. Cook over medium heat until the butter and sugar melts, then keep cooking for a few minutes longer, stirring frequently, while the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly. Remove from heat and remove the vanilla pods.
  9. Increase the oven to 200° C. Remove the cake from the oven and top with the prepared almonds, smoothing with the back of a spoon. Place the cake in the top third of the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes longer, until the glaze is dark brown and bubbling. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a small amount of flaked sea salt, and let cool completely on a wire rack. To remove, slide a knife along the inner edge of the ring before lifting the ring off carefully.

Cognac-Caramel, Pecan, and Pear Pudding Cake

for poached pears:

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbspn sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tspn cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 mini pears


  1. In a small pot, combine the water, sugar, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the pears and hollow out the seeds using a melon baller from the bottom end.
  3. Poach the pears in the simmering water until fork tender all the way through, about 10 minutes, depending on the size of the pears.
  4. Remove the pears from the liquid and set aside.

for cognac caramel:

  • 2 Tbspn butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 tspn coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cognac


  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the butter is melted, add the brown sugar and coarse salt. Cook until the sugar has melted.
  3. Slowly add the water to the sugar and bring to a bowl. Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add the cognac. Set aside.

for pudding cake:

  • 6 Tbspn butter
  • 2 oz. pecans, toasted and finely ground
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 2 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1 1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar, optional
  • heavy cream, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees C.
  2. In a small saucepan with a light-colored bottom, melt the butter. Cook over medium heat until the solids in the butter drop to the bottom and brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Solids will continue to brown as it sits.
  3. Combine the ground toasted pecans, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together lightly beaten eggs and brown sugar. Add the milk and vanilla extract. Mix to combine. Slowly add the brown butter, making sure to incorporate it fully into the liquid.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two stages, combining thoroughly. Do not overmix.
  6. Divide the batter amongst the six ramekins/mini cocottes. Pour the cognac caramel over the batter, diving amongst the six ramekins. Place a single poached pear in the center of each ramekin, pressing down into the batter. Batter should reach the near the top brim of the cocotte.
  7. Bake for ~30 minutes, until the tops of the cakes are dry and a toothpick insert 3/4 of the way in the cake comes out cleanly. Remove from oven and let cool at least five minutes before serving.
  8. Serve with a light dusting of powdered sugar or heavy cream.

Croissant Caramel Sticky Buns


  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 T Rapid Rise yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk, cold
  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened, but cool
  • 2 ½  sticks butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, cold
  • 2 T unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1  cups light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Caramel Topping
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup lightly roasted chopped pecans


The Dough
  1. Whisk 2¾ cups flour together with the yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Place the milk in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Add the flour mixture and kneed at low speed until a ball of dough forms.  Cut the 2 T butter into small pieces and add to the dough.
  2. Continue to knead until the butter becomes fully incorporated and the dough becomes smooth, begins to form a ball, and clears the sides of the bowl.  Add up to ¼ cup more flour, one tablespoon at a time if the dough is too sticky.  Place dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
  3. Toss together the 2 T flour and the 2½ -sticks-worth of butter pieces on a clean work surface.  Use a bench scraper to smear the butter and flour into a smooth, but still cold mixture.  Wrap the butter in a large piece of plastic wrap and form it into an even 7-inch square.  Place in the refrigerator until firm.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface.  Roll dough into an 11-inch square.   Place the chilled butter square diagonally onto the dough.  Fold the corners of the dough over the butter square so that they meet in the middle and pinch the dough to seal the edges.
  5. Using a rolling pin, gently whack the dough, starting at the center of the dough and go outward, until the square becomes larger and the butter begins to soften.  Then gently roll the dough into a 14-inch square.  Make sure that the butter doesn’t break through.  If it does, sprinkle with flour.  Fold the square into thirds to form a long rectangle.  Starting from the narrow ends, fold the rectangle into thirds again to form a square.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  6. Remove dough from refrigerator, gently whack and roll again to a14-inch square.  As in step four, fold dough into thirds and then fold one last time so you have a square again.  Wrap and refrigerate again for at least 2 hours.
Filling and Topping
  1. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt with a fork and set aside.
  2. Spray three 12 cup muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Melt the sticks of butter for the topping in a medium saucepan.  Add brown sugar, water, and pecans.  Mix well and bring to a boil.   Boil for one minute only.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Forming  & Baking the Rolls
  1. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll into a rough 18” x 18” square about ¼”, or a little less, thick.  Evenly spread the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over the surface of the rectangle.   Cut square in half, forming two equal rectangles.  Roll each rectangle into a long log.  Gently pinch the seams to seal.
  2. Place about 2 tablespoons of caramel mixture in the bottom of the cups of two muffin tins, plus 8 more cups in another muffin tin.
  3. Preheat oven to 205°.  Once oven is heated, place a large sheet of aluminum foil on the baking rack and then place 1 or 2 muffin pans on top of the foil (the foil should catch any caramel overflow).  Bake for 10-12  minutes, or until caramel is bubbling and buns are well browned.  If buns seem to be getting brown too fast, loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake until done.11.  Measure and mark 1” segments of the log and then slice with a very sharp knife. Gently place rolls on top of caramel mixture in the muffin cups.  Cover pans loosely with plastic wrap and set to rise in a relatively cool place until puffy, about 1 hour.
  4. Remove pans from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Invert onto serving plates and redistribute nuts and caramel if necessary.  Allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving.
Makes 32 sticky buns.

Chocolate-Dipped Caramels


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup walnuts, pecans, almonds, or macadamia nuts toasted
  • seeds scraped from a 1-inch segment of vanilla bean pod
  • 9 ounces of good milk chocolate, tempered


  1. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with non-stick aluminum foil.  Set aside.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, combine cream, corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar, butter, and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often.  Once it comes to a boil, cook without stirring until mixture reaches 115°C.  Remove pan from heat.  Add nuts and vanilla seeds, stirring well to combine.  Pour into prepared dish.  Allow to cool for 1-2 hours.
  3. Using foil as handles, lift caramel from dish.  Remove foil, and place caramel on a cutting board. Cut into 1-inch squares. (I like to use a pizza cutter and a plastic quilting ruler as a guide to get perfect squares.)
  4. Line a flat cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper.  Melt chocolate over double boiler, and temper it.  Drop 3-4 caramel cubes into the chocolate at a time, and remove with two forks, tapping one fork on the other to remove excess chocolate.  Place carefully on prepared cookie sheet.  When all caramels are coated, set aside and allow chocolate to firm up at room temperature.
Makes 64 caramels.