Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Time to Reconsider those Hasty Resolutions

"Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"
-Twelfth Night, 2. 3

(From The OFA: "Twelfth Night, the eve of January 6, is an English folk custom that marks the end of Christmas merrymaking and, in ancient Celtic tradition, the end of the 12-day winter solstice celebration.")

Yes, it is Twelfth Night, the end of Holiday Revels and time to Get Real. Are you falling off the diet-exercise wagon yet?
Cleaning up the gingerbread because you were brought up in the Clean Plate Club? Postponing that walk because of the sub zero wind chill factor? Feeling like a failure?
You may be a victim of a culture that tells you what to do and when to do it. Halloween insanity followed by Thanksgiving family time followed by Black Friday spending until Merry Christmas and more Sales! followed by... getting back in shape? Every year the same treadmill?
Who thought THAT up?

Shop now, buy this new thing. Get up, get down. Or else. You won't be the same as the Madison Avenue image of Kewl. COOL. Is that really YOU? New Years Day is not the only day you can begin a plan. Every day is a new day.

Have a piece of cheesecake, Bubbie. Make it a small piece and freeze the rest.

"Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"
-Twelfth Night, 2. 3

This recipe was given to me by a close friend who believed in all that treadmill, until Fate handed her a platter of ____. Life does that, sometimes. It's how you roll with the punches that shows what kind of a person you are.

RECIPE: Cathy's Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake

Prepare a springform pan.
Wipe it well with butter, then press a crushed Oreo chocolate crumb crust into it, using the bottom of a smooth bottomed glass.
The original recipe called for 26 of those deep chocolate wafer cookies that I can't find anymore. I was going to buy a package of Oreos and scrape the lardy sugar filling out and proceed from there, but - lo and behold- the prepared Oreo chocolate crumb crust was half the price, and you only need to crush it up and press it into the springform pan, and chill.
(If you were raised on store bought cookies you won't understand my aversion to Oreo cookies. I really didn't want any leftover cookies around.)

Anyway, if you can find the original dark chocolate wafers, mix together 11/2 cup finely crushed chocolate wafers with:
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar
Press into buttered spring form pan and chill until needed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Get all of your ingredients ready and lined up to use as needed.
Soften 3 8-ounce packages of Philly cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer.
In the top of a double boiler, gently melt 12 ounces of Ghirardelli 60 percent bittersweet chocolate chips just until liquefied. Set aside.
Measure 1 cup sugar and 3 Tbsp. flour into another bowl. Stir until smooth with a fork, and set aside.
In another bowl, break 3 eggs. Then add the separated yolks of three more eggs. Stir with a fork and set aside.
Open up a 8 ounce carton of (heavy) whipping cream and set aside.
In a measuring cup, dissolve 2 Tbsp. instant espresso coffee in 2 Tbsp. hot water, and set aside.

Remove chilled crust from refrigerator, and place on a cookie rack over a jelly roll pan. set aside.
Beat cream cheese at medium speed until smooth. Scrape bowl.
Gradually add sugar/flour, beating until light and fluffy, scraping bowl.
At this point, you should note that beating air into the cheesecake may cause cracking when it bakes. So don't overdo the "beating."
Gradually add eggs, beating well, scraping bowl.
Beat in melted chocolate, espresso, and whipping cream at low speed until incorporated, scraping bowl.
Pour into prepared pan, then place pan on rack over jelly roll pan.
Place pan on bottom rack of preheated oven.
Bake for one hour. The edges will look raised, the middle will look uncooked. That's okay, you don't want to overcook it.
At the end of one hour, turn off heat and allow to sit in oven with door closed for another 40 minutes to an hour.
Remove from oven, let cool completely, still on the wire rack over the jelly roll pan.
Refrigerate for several hours, wrapping the bottom of the pan in foil or putting the pan over a plate to catch any butter leakage.

To serve, loosen cake around edge with a metal spatula. Unlock spring form pan and remove the ring.
Place the cheesecake with the pan bottom on a serving plate. You can garnish the cheesecake: I've never found it needed any frills.
Serve at room temperature. Use a hot dry knife to slice. Clean knife between each slice.
Store any leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
OR cut in wedges, then wrap loosely in plastic wrap and freeze, then the next day wrap frozen slices in foil, double wrap in freezer bags, and freeze for up to 6 months.
To serve frozen cheesecake, remove from freezer, unwrap and thaw overnight in refrigerator, OR unwrap and let thaw one hour at room temperature.

The ability to live in a moment and enjoy it, celebrate it, is a great thing.

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