I know, I've been REALLY bad. But honest, I've been terribly busy. One day soon, I'll reveal all, but in the meantime I want you to know that I haven't forgotten about you all, and I have been doing at least a thing or two besides slaving away in front of this computer. So, you can see that we've not turned into slugs, some photos:
First, Anthony's first crop of Lion's Mane mushrooms! Okay, I know it can't really be called a crop, but I'm pretty proud of him for getting this far as the conditions he has to work under are antediluvian. And they're a little hard to see inside their sterile plastic bag, but that's them, on sitting on top of their growing medium. The second shot is the Lion's Mane just prior to being consumed. And yes, they really do taste like lobster!
Next: Charlotte, my five year old granddaughter graduated from Kindercare! Her class put on a play and she was a moth. She was so adorable I cried. The woman to the left is my talented daughter Chandra. She designs children's knitwear and will soon be having her designs knit in Nepal!
Okay, so these are not really photos of anything I've been doing... and it's true I haven't been doing many fibery things lately except working a bit on current projects, but I have been baking a bit though I have not photographed everything and I did not participate in this month's Daring Bakers Challenge: Bagels. But, from the Essence Of Chocolate I did make the Chocolate Shortbread with Cacao nibs and sea salt. I didn't photograph them for a reason. They were delicious. SO good in fact that the batch didn't survive the second day. But they didn't turn out as neat looking squares, they puffed and were light and crumbly, which means I over beat the dough. Sigh. That's what I get for trying to do too many things at once - lack of attention to the task at hand. You can see the cookies (done correctly) over on my talented Daring Baker Sister Anita's blog .
I also made, from the same cookbook, the Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake which was AWESOME! I did make a couple of changes to the recipe though. First I added extra vanilla, then I baked it in a water bath. It came out so creamy I got weak in the knees after my first bite: always a good sign. You can see the original recipe as well as a photo of it baked without water (and it really is pretty that way) here, at allchocolate.com. I honestly did take photos of mine but do you think I can find them?
Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake
Adapted from THE ESSENCE OF CHOCOLATE by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg
Makes 12 servings
If you bake it without the water bath, this cheesecake will puff when baking and may run over the rim of the suggested pan size. Although I baked mine in a water bath, I used two pans just in case - an 8" and a 6" since I was planning on taking the little one to my daughter. The next time I bake it - I'll use a 9" pan or three 6" instead of the 8". Why look for trouble?
NOTE: I should tell you that baking cheesecake in a water bath results in a white top. If you prefer a puffy brown top, bake it directly on the rack without the water, and increase the beating times to create a fluffy filling.
For the Crust
2 1/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs made from store-bought cookies
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
In a medium bowl stir together the crumbs and melted butter. Press the crumbs into the bottom and at least halfway up the side of an 8-inch and 6 inch spring form pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 375ºF. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Wrap the outside of the pans carefully with a double layer of aluminum foil or a single layer of heavy duty foil. Lower the oven temperature to 325ºF. Put on a full kettle of water to heat it.
For the Filling
3** 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature*
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs at room temperature*
2** cups sour cream at room temperature*
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon dark rum (I'll use 2 next time)
10 oz. 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
* Having the cold ingredients at room temperature is very important. It's the only way you'll be able to blend them without beating in too much air, thus creating a softer, creamier texture.
** This recipe creates a soft and creamy cake. If you like your cheesecake a bit denser, use 4 8 oz packages of cream cheese and 1 cup of sour cream instead.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese, sugar and salt on medium speed just until combined - do not beat! Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and beat again, just until combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix on low for an additional 2 minutes, or until the batter is smooth and creamy. Scrape the bowl and paddle as necessary. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the chocolate.
Place the two foil wrapped pans in a large roasting pan. Pour the batter into the crust. Spread it evenly with a small offset spatula. place the roasting pan in the preheated oven and pour hot water into the roasting pan to halfway up the sides of the cake pans. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until set. If you are using one smaller pan, you can take that one out of the oven at 1 hour and leave the second one in for an additional 15 minutes or so. Turn off the heat, prop open the oven door with a wooden spoon, and let the cake rest in the oven for 30 minutes. (don't worry about taking the small one out early, not resting in the oven didn't affect it at all)
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours to chill and firm, or preferably overnight.
Run a palette knife or icing spatula around the edge of the pan, remove the spring form ring and carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving. The cheesecake can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
I also made another batch of the diplomat cream from last month's daring baker challange (this time it came out just fine). I baked a sheet of puff pastry, cut it into squares, mounded the diplomat cream on top, added a dollop of chantilly cream, some caramel sauce and a sprinkling of cocoa nibs. YUM!
So that's it for now. See you later!