I have to think about this one for a second. Should I do this?
Yes, I think I should.
Okay here it goes. I recently read an article somewhere which stated that food bloggers are multitalented…Not only do they possess knowledge about baking/cooking, but they are also adequate writers and photographers, at least that’s what is expected from them and those are the qualities they should possess in order to be successful in the field.
Well, to me writing is the trickiest of the three qualities, and I’m not talking about proper grammar usage or correct verb conjugation. I’m talking about trying to transmit my thoughts fully and properly with words. I have never been a person of many words, especially spoken words. An introvert like me, would rather express herself in other ways. But as I read over some of my posts, I have to admit that I have frequently and conveniently mistaken this blog for a diary, where I’m permitted to ramble on and on and then shyly hit the “publish” button. That doesn’t mean I’m a great writer. That just means that I happened to find the correct words in that specific time and place to express a certain feeling or thought. And thank God I did.
Well, today, as I think about these cheesecakes I made, a bundle of emotion is stirred up inside of me and I might have to “let it all come out” and come clean once again…through words.
Here is the story. I made hazelnut cheesecakes today. I made one set for Periphery and one for me. Incase you didn’t know, Periphery is a progressive metal band that is doing really wonderful things in music.They just left for an Australian tour and I made them these treats before they left on their journey.
About a year and half ago my other half, Mark, was offered the position of becoming one of Periphery’s full-time guitarists. He was offered the opportunity of a life time…of his life time. At the time, I was almost convinced that this opportunity, as rewarding as it may have been for him, did not match with what I had in mind for us. To keep things brief, after having been with Mark for many many years, I deeply believed that this sudden change of pace and life style in our lives would be a problem. I was stuck in the notion that the idea of the two (the band/touring and me) could not coexist. I was stubborn and pushed away. This would either make us or break us.
Luckily we are still one, stronger than ever. It took some adjusting and getting used to, but after some compromise and care from both sides, we got over the unexpected bump on the road and swerved back to our path. After testing the waters and giving it a try, I realized that this situation is not that bad. I won’t bother listing the pros and cons. He is doing what he loves and that is very important.
So today, I made two sets of cheesecakes: one for me and one for Periphery to take on their trip. Mine has chopped and toasted hazelnuts along with striped dark chocolate on the top. Theirs has the band’s logo on the surface of each individual piece. Mine is a larger and thicker piece (I know, I know), while theirs are smaller and thinner mini cheesecakes, to the point where they almost resemble cheesecake cookies…Cheesecake and cookies united as one?! Simply delicious.
They are both different, but still alike, since the same batter, method, and care, were taken to elaborate both. After all, we can all coexist peacefully.
And even better? The guys enjoyed their treats quite a bit and as you probably figure, few things in the world gratify me more than to bring happiness to others through sweets. I hope you find them to be just as tasty.
• Yield: Six mini cheesecakes and one 6″ x 2″ medium-sized cheesecakes. However, the yield varies depending on what size pan you prefer to use. You can get two 8″ cheesecakes out of this. Freeze for 3-4 weeks well wrapped. Keep in fridge for about 2 days.
• Note: I used tart pans for the mini cheesecakes. I know you may be thinking, “Tart pans are meant to be used to bake tarts, not cheesecakes! Duuuh!” And you are so right. However, that’s what I had in hand and I made it work just fine. Since the material of the cake pans is so thin, the baking time decreases significantly because the heat reaches the batter sooner and with more force. If using a springform pan, be sure to wrap the bottom and sides of cake pan with aluminum foil to prevent leakage.
ingredients for hazelnut cookie crust:
2.5 oz (1/2 cup) hazelnuts
4 oz (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter
2 oz (1/4 cup) sugar
3.5 oz (about 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
recipe for hazelnut cookie crust:
1. Place hazelnuts into a food processor and grind until hazelnuts are finely crushed. Set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar until butter is light and fluffy.
3. Mix all-purpose flour, ground hazelnuts, and salt together.
4. Slowly add all dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture and mix on low speed until dough comes together.
5. Drop spoonfuls of dough two inches apart onto a sheet tray that is covered with parchment paper. You will most likely need two baking sheets to bake off all the cookies. Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes, or until cookies become golden brown. Allow cookies to cool off.
ingredients for cheesecake:
8 oz (1 cup) cream cheese
4 oz (1/2 cup) sugar
6 oz (about 3/4 cup) Nutella
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 oz (about 1/3 cup) mascarpone cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1/4 cup dark chocolate
recipe for cheesecake:
1. Grind hazelnut cookies in a food processor until cookies are finely ground. The natural oils in the hazelnut will come out when this happens, so adding melted butter is not necessary to keep the crumbs together.
2. Grease six 3″ x 1″ tart pans and one 6″ x 2″ round cake pan with vegetable spray. Cut out circles that have the same circumference as the base of the pans and place each circular piece of parchment paper on the base of each pan.(Note: I use mini tart pans and one 6″ cake pan in this recipe, but you can use two 6″ or two 8″ cake pans instead. That’s more user-friendly and will work just fine).
3. Press grounded hazelnut cookies into prepared pans. Bake at 350 F for about 10-12, until crust becomes golden brown. Allow crust to cool off completely.
4. Preheat oven to 275 F. Cream cream cheese and sugar on medium speed for a couple of minutes until cream cheese is light, fluffly, and smooth. There should be no solid chunks of cream cheese at this point. Add Nutella and vanilla.
5. Add mascarpone cheese and continue to mix just until mixture is creamy and well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl and be sure that all ingredients are well integrated.
6. Add yolks and eggs one at a time on low speed until batter is very smooth.
7. Strain batter into a large bowl. Ladle batter into prepared mini tart pans, until batter reaches almost to the top of each pan. Ladle remaining batter into 6″ x 2″ cake pan.
8. Place mini tart pans onto a baking sheet tray. Place sheet tray into preheated oven and pour water into sheet tray, until water reaches about halfway the sides of each pan. Place 6″ x 2″ cake pan onto a separate baking pan with sides. Pour water into baking pan so that water reaches about halfway the sides of cake pan. Bake mini cheesecakes for about 20-30 minutes and larger cake for about 1 hr 20 min, until cakes jiggle in the center when tapped.
9. Cool cheesecakes completely at room temperature. Place cakes in freezer for about 1-2 hours. (Note: If using a springform pan, it is not necessary to freeze cheesecakes. Simply cool cheesecakes completely at room temperature and release springs from pan).
10. Turn frozen cheesecakes upside down over a flat surface that is covered with parchment paper. Torch the sides and bottom of each cake and tap firmly until cheesecakes are released. Turn cheesecakes over.
11. Time decorate your cakes…sprinkle a handful of toasted/chopped hazelnuts over the surface of each cheese cake. Place dark chocolate in a small bowl and melt over a bain-marie. Place melted dark chocolate into a pre-made paper cone. Cut the paper cone’s tip and and move swiftly and quickly back and forth over the cake to create thin lines of chocolate on its surface. If you don’t have a paper cone and don’t feel comfortable making one, you could try dipping the tip of a fork or a spoon in the melted chocolate and moving it back and forth over the cake so that chocolate drizzles over it.
You can then play around some more with the chocolate…It’s fun to do so and you may have trouble containing yourself.
You can also draw the logo of a progressive metal band with the chocolate, that’s just one idea for instance…
Now comes the best part. Move the cheesecake onto a serving dish or platter with an offset spatula. Cut yourself a small piece or various pieces and enjoyyyyy! Be ware though, this dessert is super decadent and rich. A small piece goes a long way.