Sunday, October 4, 2009
You know something's good when you are checking to see if it's done every five minutes just so you can lick the knife. Especially when there is a consuming craving it's answering.
Yea, I crave. Its a big part of the reason I am good at whatever it is I am good at. I am usually not the most emotional person in the world (or so say legions of my ex-boyfriends), but I can derive a tremendous amount of passion from craving. Much of the skill I have in life is traceable directly to a lack of patience and some sort of slightly demented superman complex. The thought process is something like: 'I can't stand waiting, and why should I have to, I can do this better and quicker myself. I want x now, badly.'
This has unsurprisingly led me down a road littered with a variety of potentially poor/hazardous/certifiable decisions. The funny thing is, despite every public service announcement and self-help book out there telling me that this will get me nowhere, that I just need to work hard and love myself and keep slugging, somehow it is the violent, passionate, often irrational acts of an impatient soul craving something (sex, money, Kröllebölle, experience, Sushi, love, a trip to Indonesia, to name a few) that have led to the best experiences of my life. A big part of that is enjoyment of even the failures, and appreciation of the idea that the more colossal and passionate the failure, the more interesting it makes me. Who knows. Maybe I am just a lazy spoiled girl who has been cut a few breaks. Who cares. I am happy!
Today, after the return of my boyfriend from a few weeks abroad answered one craving, my mind was clear and poised for another. The boyfriend was trying to describe some delicious chocolate dessert he had in Copenhagen last week, and was at a loss for the name. Like any good children of the internet, we immediately began google image searching 'chocolate dessert'. Well, for a hungry girl looking for a craving, this ended predictably. Three pages of delicious looking things later, I 'needed' chocolate cheesecake. Not the fancy, delicate, complicated gourmet kind, but a giant, sour, huge slice of real New-York Cheesecake.
A brief search of my own records reminded me that I didn't have a 'go-to' recipe. I had some that were good, but nothing that was really 'it'. Years of living in Asia and being served fruit-ganache-cream covered glorified egg tarts masquerading as cheesecake left me with fairly low standards, and I had previous just settled for anything happily not durian flavored. Determined to do better this time, I went hunting.
I found this Emeril recipe on food network (yea, I know, I hate the celebrity chef thing too, but if there is anything that a dude who cooks for the psydo-pretentious masses might get right, cheesecake could be it). It provided a good amount of guidance as to proportions, but I wanted something a little more. Mint. Most recipes out there that add mint to the mix do so through creme-de-menthe; however, the alcohol changes the texture and rising of the cheesecake. I am not a fan. I don't even use vanilla extract in cheesecake for the same reason. I did, however, remember the second box of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies sitting in my freezer. Having had some fantastic success at making ice cream out of them, I thought, why not work up a whole line of deliciousness based off of these bestest cookies ever, and break up a bunch and use them like Oreos in the cheesecake? Easy!
I wanted to give the cheesecake itself a little hint of mint as well, however, and was at a loss for how to go about that. Until I saw a York Peppermint Pattie at the supermarket checkout. Perfect! Melted into the chocolate, the Peppermint Pattie was just the right hint of mint.
------Aside- they do give you a weird look when you checkout with only two pounds of cream cheese and a Peppermint Pattie. Like that's more strange that the dude with six boxes of Tampons and a bottle of cherries that was in front of me in line. Whatever. Maybe the checkout lady thought we were together. I shudder.
Cheesecakes are super easy, although they need to refrigerate a few hours before serving, so plan accordingly! Much of below is adopted from the original, with a few significant changes.
6 Graham Crackers
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 stick butter
2 1/2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean (scraped from inside of pod)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces melted semisweet chocolate, cooled slightly
1 full-size York Peppermint Pattie, melted into the chocolate
1 tube of Thin Mints (12 or so, to taste)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (if using a silver springform pan, or 325 degrees F if using a dark nonstick springform pan).
Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. In a food processer, combine the graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and the butter until well mixed and shapable (sticks together). Press onto the bottom of springform pan and set aside. You can use chocolate graham crackers, or any other dry cookie here too.
In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, remaining cup of sugar, and vanilla bean seeds and beat until light and creamy. Add the flour to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and peppermint pattie and sour cream and mix well. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until just blended. Finally, hand-crush the thin mints, leaving some large pieces, and mix into the batter. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 15 min, until the center is almost set. You will likely need about an hour and a half, but stat checking at 1:15. Dry cheesecakes suck.
Run a sharp knife around the rim of the pan and allow cake to cool on a wire rack before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Cheesecake may be made up to 2 days in advance before serving and will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
Seriously, this is one of the best desserts I have ever made. Damn. There's the craving. Time for another piece. Why isn't running or learning Japanese craveable? Arugh.