Sunday, April 28, 2013

Coffee Mocha Cheesecake

I wanted to try a new flavor of cheesecake and B requested mocha cheesecake for his birthday. I tried this recipe from Bon Appetit, but did a LOT of modifying, both intentionally and not. Well, that's what a test dummy is for!

For the sake of health (and since B has a sad lack of bakeware) I made a half batch. This time I decided to replace nearly all the cream cheese with nonfat Greek yogurt. With all the rich chocolate and coffee, you can't tell the tastes just as deliciously unhealthy and rich as any Cheesecake Factory slice!
I did not have coffee liqueur, but the original recipe calls for it. I also accidentally bought instant latte (the expresso was sold out, and being in a tiny Midwest town, I had limited grocery options). Since the milk powder diluted the flavor, I just went ahead and added coffee grounds straight up for more pizazz.

Bryan: Uh, are used coffee grounds edible?
Chef Uy: Why not? People eat chocolate covered coffee beans from Trader Joe's!
Bryan: I think those are roasted, so they're not bitter.
Chef Uy: Oh well *dumps scoops of coffee grounds into the batter*

If you want to sleep well, don't eat too much of this cheesecake before bedtime, because that coffee caffeine is definitely there.

Coffee Mocha Cheesecake

1/2 9-ounce box chocolate teddy grahams, crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
expresso powder to taste
1.5 ounces chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, hot

1 8 oz package cream cheese, room temp
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
3/4 cups sugar
instant espresso / coffee powder
2 large eggs
4 ounces chocolate, chopped
3/4 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar
instant espresso / coffee powder

heavy whipping cream
strong coffee
chocolate, grated
coffee bean candies (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Crust: Finely grind cookies, sugar and espresso powder in processor. Add chocolate and chop finely. Add butter and blend until moist crumbs form. Press crumbs onto bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 min.

Filling:  Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 1 cup yogurt, and sugar in large bowl. Add coffee powder to a few tablespoons of boiling water until coffee dissolves. Add coffee (plus coffee grounds if desired) to cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined. This is the base coffee filling for the bottom layer.

Divide this base filling into two equal portions. Pour one portion (1/2 of your filling) onto the crust. Bake until partially set, about 20 minutes.

Melt chocolate in top of double broiler over simmering water. Stir chocolate into the second portion (te remaining 1/2 of the filling). This will be your chocolate layer; carefully spoon chocolate filling over the (baked) coffee filling. Continue baking cheesecake until set on edges but center 2 inches still move slightly when pan is shaken, about 20-25 minutes.

Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool 20 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Topping: Mix remaining 3/4 cup yogurt, coffee, and sugar in bowl. Spoon topping over cheesecake. Bake 10 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Run small sharp knife around crust sides to loosen. Cool completely. Cover and chill overnight.

Whipping heavy whipping cream, sugar, and coffee (to taste) and top the edges. Grate chocolate and decorate with coffee bean candies.

To simplify, you could remove the last third layer (the topping), but it's a good way to cover cracks. You can also bake and swirl the two filling layers and bake at the same time, but I think there's less cracking when you bake a little bit at a time. 
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Gentleman's Juice and A Lady's Smoked Salmon, Avocado, and Chipotle Gouda Panini

Bryan has a zillion cooking tools. I have to admit, I was very, very skeptical when Bryan dropped $100 for a panini press, and even more so when he splurged $120 for a juicer.

Well I have to admit, he does make use of his panini press and juicer daily (according to him, he has to or else I'll make a comment on unnecessary purchases/clutter). He loves those machines, and it has certainly won him a lot of friends. He has, however, zero interest in baking.

Chef Uy: Do you have an eggbeater?
Bryan: No.
Chef Uy: Do you have a whisk?
Bryan: No.
Chef Uy: Do you have vanilla extract? Flour? Baking chocolate?
Bryan: No
Chef Uy: Do you have a springform pan? A cake pan? Or even a muffin pan? 
Bryan: No
Chef Uy: What kind of kitchen is this?? O_O
I suppose between all my baking contraptions and his random gadgets, we'll have the most fully equipped kitchen ever.

2 oranges, peeled
1 lemon
3 carrots
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup kale
1-2 apples

Peel oranges and cut carrots and apples into smaller pieces. Toss everything in juicer. Serve and enjoy!

PS. Apparently, you can simply throw a whole lemon in the juicer. The lemon definitely has a strong flavor. Although the green color is a little scary, you can't really taste the vegetables.


Since I'm not a huge bread person, I prefer to cram as much stuff as I can inside my paninis. Even if it doesn't fit inside the bread.

Chef Uy: *places sandwich on panini press. Everything explodes*
Bryan: really, dear?
Chef Uy: I like stuff in my sandwhich, ok!
smoked salmon
chipotle gouda cheese
1/4 avocado
1 tomato, sliced
1 slice bread, halved

I have to admit, a panini press (or as Bryan calls it, a "sandwich awesomeifier") makes every sandwich just taste that much better.
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte II (Flourless)

I am a huge fan of chocolate and nuts, so when Bryan asked for a chocolate dessert, I quickly knew I wanted to make a torte since he has never tried one and he has all sorts of fancy gadgets like a food processor which I don't have in my own apartment.

Although I do have another Hazelnut torte recipe, I wanted to try this flourless version from Epicurious.
Bryan: What, there's no flour in this? *poke*
Chef Uy: Nope!
Bryan: But...where does the cake come from??? What sort of witchcraft is this??

The secret is the ground up roasted hazelnuts :)

6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
chopped 1 cup hazelnuts (about 4 ounces)
2/3 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
5 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounce fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Torte: In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water melt chocolate, stirring until smooth, and cool. Spread hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan and toast in oven until they begin to turn pale golden, 10-12 minutes. Cool hazelnuts completely. Discard any hazelnut skins that rub off easily and transfer nuts to food processor; grind mixture fine.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and remaining 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in vanilla, salt, and melted chocolate. Beat in hazelnut mixture until combined well. In another large bowl with cleaned beaters beat whites with a pinch salt until they just hold stiff peaks. Fold in whites gently but thoroughly. Spread batter evenly in springform pan and bake in middle of oven 25-30 minutes. Cool torte completely in pan on a rack and remove side of pan.

Glaze: Put chocolate in a small metal bowl. In a small saucepan bring cream to a boil and pour over chocolate. Stir glaze just until completely smooth and let stand until thickened slightly, about 20 minutes. Spread glaze evenly over top of torte.

Garnish top and bottom edge of torte with chopped hazelnuts and let torte stand until glaze is set, about 2 hours.

As always, I mix unsweetened chocolate to make it darker. This has a light cakelike texture. For next time, I might bake it a little less than 1/2 hr so it's more molten in the center.
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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pina Coladas with Coconut Rum and Cranberry Juice

To celebrate our last spring break ever post exams, I went on an awesome med school girls-only road trip to a gorgeous beach condo in Florida. Since we were at the beach, we of course needed to make pina coladas. 

Now I don't really drink which often surprises people given how much I look food and cooking

My very first experience with alcohol was my 8 year old self drinking a very spiked pina colada. My family had gone on a cruise to the Caribbean and our family (all of my siblings very young) somehow ended up on some kind of party boat with unlimited alcohol. I excitedly thought the pina colada was a coconut shake and hastily drank it... until I tasted the rum. Spitting everything out in disgust, my distaste for anything alcohol began then at the tender age of 8.

Since then, I've never had a huge fondness for alcohol. It probably isn't very fair to for my impression of "alcohol tastes bad," as that party boat pina colada drink wasn't very good (my mother ended up with a severe headache as she complained since that was "bad quality" alcohol)

However, this pina colada drink is definitely a sweet drink, and I love it that in this version you can hardly taste the rum. Plus the colors are just amazing (like the Florida beach water).

Pina Coladas with Coconut Rum and Cranberry Juice

pineapple juice
coconut rum (optional)
coconut juice
cranberry juice
crushed ice (optional)

Mix pineapple juice and coconut rum 1:1 and pour into a glass with ice. Add coconut juice in a 4:1 ratio to the pineapple juice. Slowly pour cranberry juice, letting it run down the sides to obtain the separate layers.

I had a lot of fun playing with the layers; the cranberry is quite dense it seems. At first it swirls around, but if you add enough and add it slowly, it gradually sinks to the bottom. In the picture above, you can see our varying successes in making it pretty but it all tastes delicious.

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