Chocolate Explosion Cheesecake

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 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

METHOD:

  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.
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Apricot Pistachio Chocolate Mousse Tart

INGREDIENTS:
makes six 4.5-inch tartlets
Chocolate mousse recipe adapted from Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger’s Essence of Chocolate.

for pastry:

  • 240 gr All Purpose flour
  • 65 gr pistachios, raw and removed from shells (measured without shells)
  • 50 gr sugar
  • 7 Tbspn butter, cold
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3-4 Tbspn water, cold
  • 1-2 oz. dark chocolate, optional

METHOD:

  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, pistachios, and sugar and process until the pistachios are finely ground.
  2. Using the food processor or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour and pistachio mixture until the size of small peas.
  3. 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.
  4. Form the pastry into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour. (or stick it in the freezer for a shorter amount of time.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  6. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and press the dough into the tart pans. Prick the bottoms of the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment paper, and weigh down using dry beans or pie weights.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven, remove the beans, and let cool.
  8. Once the pastry crusts are cool, melt the dark chocolate, if using. Brush melted dark chocolate on the bottoms of each of the tarts. Let cool.

for chocolate mousse:

  • 12 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbspn sugar, opt*
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, cold

[*if you are using >70% dark chocolate, I recommend adding the sugar. for chocolate <70% dark, either skip the sugar or decrease the amount.]

METHOD:

  1. Place chopped dark chocolate in a bowl with a fine mesh sieve on top and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan on medium high heat, bring the milk and sugar to a simmer.
  4. Temper the egg yolks by pouring in a small stream of simmering milk to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Once the yolks and milk are combined, return to the saucepan and to heat. Cook, scraping the bottom constantly with a spatula until a custard forms and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat immediately.
  5. Pour the custard through the fine mesh sieve onto the chopped and prepared chocolate. Let sit for one to two minutes. Whisk the chocolate and custard together until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
  6. Meanwhile, chill a large balloon whisk and bowl.
  7. Once the chocolate custard has come to room temperature, whip the cold cream in the chilled bowl until soft peaks form.
  8. Gently fold the cooled chocolate custard into the whipped cream until combined. Do not overmix.
  9. Cover and chill the mousse to set in the refrigerator for at least four hours before using.

for assembly:

  • 12 medium-sized ripe but firm apricots
  • apricot jam
  • pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

METHOD:

  1. Pipe or spoon the mousse into the prepared tart shells.
  2. Slice the apricots and arrange on the chocolate mousse.
  3. Warm the apricot jam and, using a pastry brush, lightly coat the apricot slices with warm jam.
  4. Top with roughly chopped pistachios.

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Ganache Chocolates

INGREDIENTS:

makes 48-64 chocolates, depending on mold size

for dark chocolate ganache:
(this recipe should make more ganache than necessary for these chocolates, but ganache is always a great thing to have around and it keeps very well in the fridge. Use the excess ganache for truffles, if you want, or save for more chocolates later!)
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used Gittard, but any good quality dark chocolate will do)
  • 6 Tbspn heavy cream (preferably manufacturing cream, if you can find it)
  • 1 Tbspn butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbpsn Godiva chocolate liquor
METHOD:
  1. Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, heat cream and butter until just before boiling.  Immediately pour hot cream over the chocolate in a bowl.  Allow this to sit for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the chocolate and cream until a homogeneous mixture forms.  Stir in the chocolate liquor.
  4. Place overnight in the fridge until firm.
for chocolates:
  • 1 lb. dark chocolate, split into two half pounds
  • dark chocolate ganache, recipe above
  • raspberry preserves
METHOD:
You will also need plastic chocolate molds.
  1.  Chop a 1/2 pound of the dark chocolate and place in a double boiler.  Melt this chocolate.  Turn off stove.
  2. Add the other 1/2 pound WHOLE, without chopping!, to the melted chocolate in the double boiler.  Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.  This is the easiest way to temper chocolate that I’ve found.  No need to mess with marble pastry boards or thermometers!  But, if you have your own method, feel free to temper the chocolate as you wish.
  3. Once the chocolate is tempered, make sure to keep it only hot enough to keep it melted.  Turn on the stove to simmer the water in the double boiler if heat is needed.
  4. Pour a teaspoon of melted chocolate into the molds one at a time. Once the chocolate is poured into one mold, use a paintbrush to spread the chocolate evenly to coat the inside of each mold.  Do not pour chocolate into all of the molds first and then spread later–your chocolate will cool!  Do this one single mold at a time.
  5. Once the molds have been coated, place them in the freezer for about five minutes.  Be careful not to leave them in for too long–the goal is only to let the chocolate set.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the raspberry preserves in the microwave until easily spreadable consistency.  Fill a pastry bag with the preserves, and set aside.
  7. Remove the molds from the freezer.  Using the pastry bag, squeeze a small amount of raspberry preserves into the bottom of each chocolate mold.
  8. Roll small pieces of the dark chocolate ganache.  Press the ganache into the chocolate molds on top of the raspberry preserves, leaving a tiny bit of space at the top of each mold.  Take care not to overfill the molds.
  9. Pour melted chocolate into the molds to cover the ganache.  Jiggle each tray a few times, and tap them gently on the counter to allow the melted chocolate to settle and to release any air pockets.
  10. Return the molds to the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.  Remove from the freezer and turn out onto a cutting board.  If needed, use a round cookie cutter to trim the excess chocolate around the candies.
  11. You should probably store the chocolates in the fridge, but since the chocolate is tempered, they will survive a bit of time outside the fridge as well, as long as it’s not too hot outside!

Rose Marzipan

INGREDIENTS:

Makes about 48 chocolates
for marzipan:

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 lb. almond paste
  • 1 1/2 Tbspn corn syrup
  • 1 Tbspn rose flavoring (available at specialty food stores; I got mine at Sur la Table)
  • 1/2 Tbspn water
  • 3-4 drops pink gel food coloring

METHOD:

  1. In a food processor, pulse confectioner’s sugar until no lumps remain.  Add the almond paste in chunks and process until combined.
  2. Add the corn syrup.  Pulse a few times until the corn syrup is incorporated.
  3. In a separate small bowl, combine rose flavoring, water, and food coloring and mix.  Add the food coloring mixture into the food processor.
  4. Process until the combination starts to come together.  Stop right before it forms a big ball.
  5. Turn out the marzipan onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Wrap tightly and store in an airtight container overnight before use.

for chocolates:

  • 1 lb. dark chocolate (I used Gittard, but any good quality dark chocolate will work), split into two half pounds
  • rose marzipan, recipe above

METHOD:
You will also need plastic chocolate molds.  available  at arts & crafts stores or online.

  1. Chop a 1/2 pound of the dark chocolate and place in a double boiler.  Melt this chocolate.  Turn off stove.
  2. Add the other 1/2 pound WHOLE, without chopping!, to the melted chocolate in the double boiler.  Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.  This is the easiest way to temper chocolate that I’ve found.  No need to mess with marble pastry boards or thermometers!  But, if you have your own method, feel free to temper the chocolate as you wish.
  3. Once the chocolate is tempered, make sure to keep it only hot enough to keep it melted.  Turn on the stove to simmer the water in the double boiler if heat is needed.
  4. Pour a teaspoon of melted chocolate into the molds one at a time. Once the chocolate is poured into one mold, use a paintbrush to spread the chocolate evenly to coat the inside of each mold.  Do not pour chocolate into all of the molds first and then spread later–your chocolate will cool!  Do this one single mold at a time.
  5. Once the molds have been coated, place them in the freezer for about five minutes.  Be careful not to leave them in for too long–the goal is only to let the chocolate set.
  6. Remove the molds from the freezer.  Break off small pieces of rose marzipan–about the size of a small cherry, and roll into a ball.  Press the marzipan into the chocolate molds, leaving a tiny bit of space at the top of each mold.
  7. Pour melted chocolate into the molds to cover the marzipan.  Jiggle each tray a few times, and tap them gently on the counter to allow the melted chocolate to settle and to release any air pockets.
  8. Return the molds to the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.  Remove from the freezer and turn out onto a cutting board.  If needed, use a round cookie cutter to trim the excess chocolate around the candies.
  9. You should probably store the chocolates in the fridge, but since the chocolate is tempered, they will survive a bit of time outside the fridge as well, as long as it’s not too hot outside!

Passionfruit-coconut Dark Chocolates & Raspberry Mocha Dark Chocolates

Passionfruit-coconut dark chocolate ganache
INGREDIENTS:
The recipe for the filling ganache is included below. For directions on molding the candies, please use the recipe here.  For lemon curd see below

  • 6oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbspn butter
  • 2 Tbspn passionfruit concentrate syrup (available at Asian markets)
  • 1 Tbspn dark rum
  • shredded dried coconut, unsweetenedlemon curd
METHOD:

  1. Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream and butter. Stir and bring to just barely a boil.
  3. Remove the cream mixture from heat and pour over the prepared dark chocolate in bowl. Allow to sit for two to three minutes, then stir until the chocolate melts into the cream.
  4. Stir in the passionfruit syrup and rum. Then add in as much shredded coconut as desired.
  5. Allow the ganache to set in the fridge overnight before use.
  6. When filling the chocolate molds, pipe a bit of lemon curd in first and then fill the molds with the passionfruit-coconut ganache.

Lemond Curd:

makes ~2 cups

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbpsn corn starch
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed meyer lemon juice
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbspn butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups boiling water
  • 1 Tbspn freshly grated meyer lemon zest

METHOD:

  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually blend in the cold water and lemon juice.
  2. Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.
  3. Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.
  4. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a full boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom (to prevent burning). Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
  5. Remove the curd from heat and mix in the lemon zest. Cool completely.
Raspberry mocha dark chocolate ganache
The recipe for the filling ganache is included below. For directions on molding the candies, please use the recipe here.

  • for raspberry filling:
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 4 Tbspn sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tspn cornstarch, sifted

METHOD:

  1. In a nonreactive saucepan, saute the raspberries on medium high until they begin to release their juices.
  2. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and sifted cornstarch to the raspberries, making sure to whisk to combine the cornstarch.
  3. Stirring constantly, bring the contents to a boil and simmer until the raspberries have reduced and are thickened, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Set aside.

for mocha ganache:

  • 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbspn butter
  • 3 Tbspn instant coffee (or 1-2 Tbspn espresso powder)
  • 2 1/2 Tbspn Bailey’s Irish Cream liquor

METHOD:

  1. Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream, butter, and instant coffee/espresso powder. Stir and bring to just barely a boil.
  3. Remove the cream mixture from heat and pour over the prepared dark chocolate in bowl. Allow to sit for two to three minutes, then stir until the chocolate melts into the cream.
  4. Stir in the Bailey’s liquor.
  5. Allow the ganache to set in the fridge overnight before use.
  6. When filling the chocolate molds, pipe a bit of raspberry reduction in first and then fill the molds with the mocha ganache.

Ginger Carrot Dark Chocolates

INGREDIENTS:
Makes about 48 chocolates, with leftover ganache

  • 8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbspn butter
  • 2 heaping tspn ground ginger
  • 1 Tbspn brandy
  • 1 medium carrot (preferably organic), julienned into short and thin, thin strips*
  • 16 oz. dark chocolate

METHOD:

  1. Place 8 oz. chopped dark chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl.  Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream, butter, and ground ginger.  Stir and bring to just barely a boil.
  3. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and pour over the prepared dark chocolate in a bowl.  Allow to sit for two to three minutes, then stir until the chocolate melts into the cream.
  4. Stir in 1 Tbspn brandy into the chocolate ganache.
  5. Add the cut carrots in the ganache.  Allow the ganache to set in the fridge overnight.
  6. Chop 8 oz. of the remaining dark chocolate and place in a double boiler.  Melt this chocolate.  Turn off the stove.
  7. Add the last remaining 8 oz. of dark chocolate WHOLE, without chopping!, to the melted chocolate in the double boiler.  Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
  8. Once the chocolate is tempered, make sure to keep it only hot enough to keep it melted.  Turn on the stove to simmer the water in the double boiler if heat is needed.
  9. Pour a teaspoon of melted chocolate into the molds one at a time.  Once the chocolate is poured, use a paintbrush to spread the chocolate evenly to coat the inside of each mold.  Do not pour chocolate into all of the molds first and then spread later–your chocolate will cool!  Do this one single mold at a time.
  10. Once the molds have been coated, place them in the freezer for about five minutes.  Be careful not to leave them in for too long–the goal is only to let the chocolate set.
  11. Remove the molds from the freezer.  Roll small pieces of the ginger-carrot ganache–about the size of a small cherry.  Press the ganache into the chocolate molds, leaving a tiny bit of space at the top of each mold.
  12. Pour melted chocolate into the molds to cover the ganache.  Jiggle each tray a few times, and tap them gently on the counter to allow the melted chocolate to settle and to release any air pockets.
  13. Return the molds to the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.  Remove from the freezer and turn out onto a cutting board.  If needed, use a round cookie cutter to trim the excess chocolate from around the candies.

*I chose not to shred the carrots because then you don’t get the crunchy texture of carrot chunks that contribute so nicely to these chocolates.  Instead, I used a mandolin to slice the carrot, cut those into strips, and finally, chopped the strips into one-to-two centimeter long pieces.

 

 

 

 

Saffron-honey Dark Chocolates & Blackberry-cassis Dark Chocolates

Blackberry-Cassis Dark Chocolates

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbspn butter
  • 3 Tbpsn creme de cassis liquor
  • Blackberry jam

METHOD:

  1. Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.  Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream and butter.  Stir and bring to just barely a boil.
  3. Remove the cream mixture from heat and pour over the prepared dark chocolate in bowl.  Allow to sit for two to three minutes, then stir until the chocolate melts into the cream.
  4. Stir in the creme de cassis liquor.  Allow the ganache to set in the fridge overnight before use.
  5. When filling the chocolate molds, pipe a bit of blackberry jam and then fill with the cassis ganache.
 For directions on molding the candies:
  1. Chop 8 oz. of the  dark chocolate and place in a double boiler.  Melt this chocolate.  Turn off the stove.
  2. Add the last remaining 8 oz. of dark chocolate WHOLE, without chopping!, to the melted chocolate in the double boiler.  Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
  3. Once the chocolate is tempered, make sure to keep it only hot enough to keep it melted.  Turn on the stove to simmer the water in the double boiler if heat is needed.
  4. Pour a teaspoon of melted chocolate into the molds one at a time.  Once the chocolate is poured, use a paintbrush to spread the chocolate evenly to coat the inside of each mold. Do not pour chocolate into all of the molds first and then spread later–your chocolate will cool!  Do this one single mold at a time.
  5. Once the molds have been coated, place them in the freezer for about five minutes.  Be careful not to leave them in for too long–the goal is only to let the chocolate set.
  6. Remove the molds from the freezer.  Roll small pieces of the  ganache–about the size of a small cherry.  Press the ganache into the chocolate molds, leaving a tiny bit of space at the top of each mold.
  7. Pour melted chocolate into the molds to cover the ganache. Jiggle each tray a few times, and tap them gently on the counter to allow the melted chocolate to settle and to release any air pockets.
  8. Return the molds to the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.  Remove from the freezer and turn out onto a cutting board.  If needed, use a round cookie cutter to trim the excess chocolate from around the candies.
Saffron-Honey Dark Chocolates
The recipe below is for the ganache. For directions on molding the candies read above
INGREDIENTS:
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbspn honey
  • A generous pinch of saffron threads (~10-15)
  • 1 Tbspn butter
  • 2 Tbspn Godiva chocolate liquor

METHOD:

  1. Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.  Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the cream, honey, and saffron threads.  Stir and bring to a near-boil, remove from heat, cover, and let steep for ten minutes.
  3. Return the cream, honey, and saffron to heat and add the butter.  Bring to just barely a boil.  Make sure the honey is completely dissolved.
  4. Remove the cream mixture from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer over the prepared dark chocolate.  (to remove saffron threads, but if you don’t mind the threads, skip the strainer.  I did.)  Allow to sit for two to three minutes, then stir until the chocolate melts into the cream.
  5. Stir in the Godiva chocolate liquor.  Allow the ganache to set in the fridge overnight before use.