Patriots + Giants = A Yummy Superbowl Cheesecake

February 2nd, 2008

I love football but this year I am not excited about the Superbowl. It stems from my complete dislike of either team and apathy towards the outcome of the game. In order to make it more exciting, I decided to challenge myself by creating a dessert for my friend’s Super Bowl Party that was representative of both teams. I started thinking about what was a very typical Boston dessert in honor of the Patriots and a very typical New York dessert in honor of the Giants. I came up with a Boston Cream Pie and a New York Cheesecake. Trying to fit these two desserts together seemed quite difficult. The textures and flavors of both are very different and not conducive to being put together…Kind of like getting the Pats and Giants to play nice together. Instead, I focused on the essence of each dessert. The vanilla custard and chocolate ganache of the Boston Cream Pie and then the texture and smoothness of the cheesecake. This led me to create a Vanilla Cheesecake with a Chocolate Ganache.

Ginny’s Super Bowl Cheesecake

Adapted from Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Cranberry Jewel Topping found on Epicurious

12 vanilla sandwich cookies (such as Vienna Fingers; 6 1/2 ounces), broken into pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup sugar

6 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large eggs

Chocolate Ganache (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)
1 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 whipping cream

1. About an hour before you start to bake, take the cream cheese out to come to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
3. Wrap outside of 9-inch springform pan with foil and grease the inside of the pan. Place it in a deep pan with at least inch high sides. Test to make sure you have sufficiently wrapped the springform pan by pour water in the pan and seeing if any leaks through.
4. Blend the cookies and sugar in a food processor (or blender) making crumbs.
5. Melt the butter in microwave for 30 seconds.
6. Mix into the cookie mixture and press into the bottom of the springform pan.
7. Bake for 10 minutes, make sure not to burn it. Remove from oven and set aside.
8. While the crust bakes, mix the cream cheese, sugar and salt. A mixer will make it easier.
9. Mix in the cream and vanilla.
10. Add the eggs and mix until all ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape the sides to make sure everything is incorporated. Do not over mix.
11. Pour over crust and place in the deep pan.
12. Boil a cup of water and pour in the pan, making sure not to spill it into your cheesecake.
13. Bake at 350° F for 50 minutes until the sides have puffed up slightly and the middle is slightly jiggly.
14. Turn off the oven and crack the oven to slowly cool the cheesecake.
15. Once it has cooled, refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight in the springform pan.
16. To prepare the ganache, in a saucepan over medium low heat bring the whip cream to a slow boil.
17. Stir in the chocolate until melted and incorporated.
18. Pour over the cheesecake and place back in the fridge to set.
19. Once set, using a knife, slowly loosen the edges of the cheesecake from the springform pan and undo the spring to take off the sides of pan. Slowly slide the cake off the bottom of the pan onto a serving platter.
20. Slice and serve! Yummy!

P.S. Cracking Eggs Tip: Always crack eggs in a separate bowl. That way in case you get some shell in it, you can fish it out before it goes into the dessert.

And so I begin…

January 21st, 2008

Lately, a common refrain in my life (besides the “why do you want to go to law school?”) has been, “Could you teach me how to cook?” Most of my friends can feed themselves. Rarely, however, do they feel that they make something that is truly yummy and satisfying. The goal of this blog is to share some recipes, techniques and tips that I have slowly developed (and am still working on) over the years. It will not be perfect but I hope that it will help give you some ideas that you can use to develop your own style of cooking.

I have been cooking since I was very young. My mother raised us on the principal that “If you can read, you can cook!” (although I was cooking before that). I was always welcome in the kitchen. Learning to cook is about following the directions and then, as you become comfortable, learning to make substitutions and experiment. I tend to stray often and make up my own things so I am going to try to make my creations into actual readable recipes. I currently live with two scientists so they will make sure I follow the directions. It is important to remember that sometimes you will mess up but you need to have fun!

Ok, enough talking, you will never learn “if you don’t jump in and get floury” (Wow! That was corny! First and last time I will say that…).

I want to share with you, as my first post, the very first recipe I remember making and mastering: my brownie recipe. This has been adapted from the Betty Crocker Alpha-Bakery
, my very first cookbook.

Fudgy Brownies (as adapted from the Betty Crocker Alpha-Bakery Cookbook)

This recipe makes a 8x 8 pan of brownies. If you don’t have that (and I don’t), a round cake pan also works fairly well or double the recipe for a 9 x 13 pan.

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ stick of butter

½ cup white sugar

¼ cup of dark brown sugar

2 eggs

â…” cup flour

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350Ëš and grease the pan with butter.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate together, over the stove in a saucepan on medium low heat.
  3. Once melted, remove from heat and mix in the rest of the ingredients. In the absence of a trivet, you can place a towel or pot holder on the counter to protect it from the heat. Add the vanilla last. Mix well to make sure there are no chunks of flour or sugar.
  4. Pour into pan and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes (if you use a cake pan, reduce the baking time to 25 minutes).
  5. After 30 minutes, insert a toothpick or knife in the center of the pan, if it comes out clean, the brownies are ready. If it is still gooey in the middle, put it in for 5 more minutes. Watch the edges of the brownies, they will be the first to burn.

Ginny’s Butter Rules:

RULE #1: USE REAL BUTTER (unsalted is normally better) IN BAKING!!! It will taste 100% better. If you are worried about being healthy, the trick is to have a small piece and bring the rest of it into work…your co-workers will love you and you will not eat the whole thing yourself.

RULE #2: NEVER CUT THROUGH THE PAPER WRAPPER TO MEASURE BUTTER—for example, you only need ½ stick of butter (4 tablespoons). Count on the outside of the wrapper until you reach the appropriate line, take a knife and gently press on that line, making an indention, but do not pierce through the wrapper just make it so when you take off the wrapper you will see the line. Unwrap the butter and cut the butter on the small indention. If you cut through the wrapper you often get pieces of the wrapper stuck to the butter, which you need to pick off (A pain!) or it will end up in your food (Gross!).

P.S. This blog is a work in progress as I figure out how to write about the food I make, how to take nice photographs of the food and how to use all this blog technology. I welcome all suggestions, comments and questions. Please email me.