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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 02/27/14

Thursday, February 27, 2014

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CHEESECAKE!!

   This recipe comes from www.mangiodasola.com .  WARNING! WARNING!WARNING! DO NOT MAKE WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION!! MAY LEAD TO YOU EATING THE WHOLE THING BY YOURSELF!......So Enjoy sparringly!!









Sunday, February 7th, was....*gulp*...my birthday. Whew! There. I said it. I know my mom's proud and shocked. It has taken me years to admit my birthday publicly to friends, students, and strangers. Usually I don't tell anyone and don't even celebrate the day of my birth. I also turn off my cellphone to avoid well-intentioned phone calls from relatives and my ex-girlfriend. I really don't like commemorating the 7th of February, but interestingly, food blogging is the catalyst behind my decision to slowly change my perspective.




   For weeks, I have been planning out what type of cake I wanted to make for my birthday. Like I said, I don't usually do anything for my birthday, but now that I have just started baking, I decided to make something special for it. (My friend guessed right that I made this cake for the blog more so than for my birthday haha)
   I wrote down notes for my quintessential cake. I wanted it to be special. I wanted it to have layers. I wanted it to be beautiful - no, I wanted it to be stunning. I wanted it to have my go-to cheesecake in it and chocolate. From there, I put together what I'll call a Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake made up of an Oreo crust, regular cheesecake filling (to contrast with the welcomed onslaught of chocolate), espresso mousse au chocolat, and espresso chocolate ganache on top.





Since I'm not very creative, I didn't add any frills such as whipped cream decorations or pieces of fruit, and ultimately, I was happy with that decision. It was already more than enough. It was decadent. Smooth. Silky with a slight crunch from the crust. Delectable. Rich. PERFECTION.

 




I really, really, really don't mean to brag, but every single layer was perfect. Every layer complimented each other brilliantly. I was shocked. I couldn't believe I had made this cake...every single layer. I was proud of myself for planning it out and allowing my plans to come to fruition successfully.






I knew that I couldn't keep this amazing creation in my house for long, so via text messaging and quick visits, I shared slices with my nearby colleagues/friends/neighbors (yes, they wear all three of those hats; I live in graduate housing, remember? :D). They all loved this cake. One person said I should sell it. Another person ate two slices in under 5 minutes. Another couldn't focus on our non-gastronomic conversation even after finishing off the cake and scraping the plate b/c she would interject repeatedly about how delicious the cake was haha.

My mom's birthday card in the background; she just couldn't resist...


Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake
A creation compiled by me along with two giants in the cooking world.
NOTE
: to make things easier, make the cheesecake and crust on one day and the mousse and ganache on the next day. Cheesecake lasts longer than mousse. Keep this cake refrigerated and will last up to 2-3 days but is best eaten the day it's made.

 

Layer 1: Oreo Cookie Crust
30-32 Oreo cookies (or chocolate sandwich cookies) for a high crust
4 Tbsp unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
1-2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

Crush cookies in a food processor or in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin or mallet. In a bowl or food processor, pour melted butter on top of the crushed cookies and add the espresso powder (optional), and mix or pulse well. Place the oreo mixture at the bottom of a springform pan. Smooth out the mixture with the bottom of a measuring cup or glass. Wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil. Place the crust in the freezer while you make the cheesecake.
Layer 2: Tall & Creamy CheesecakeHALVED & adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours
For the cheesecake:
1 pound (two 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (I always use kosher salt)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup heavy cream (or sour cream or combination)

Put a kettle or pot of water on to boil. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Working in a stand mixer (or large bowl with hand mixer), preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft for about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt, and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition to yield a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and stir in the heavy cream or sour cream.
Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan, and pour in a few cups of the hot water in the pan around the springform pan (I do half before putting the cheesecake mixture, to reduce my chances of getting water in the cheesecake and to get everything ready.)
Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter should fill only half of the pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour the rest of the boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven's heat, and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight. Make the mousse once the cheesecake has cooled.



Quality chocolate courtesy of Callebaut Chocolate. YUM.

Layer 3: Mousse au chocolat/French Chocolate Mousseadapted from Tyler Florence on Food Network

6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut; use good chocolate)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp espresso powder (added to intensify chocolate flavor, optional)
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

DIY ORIGAMI SEPTIMA STAR!

   This comes from www.goorigami.com .  I thought these looked like something that could be made into an ornament or even made larger for the start on your Christmas tree.






Septima Star by Ekaterina Lukasheva




It seems like this is the first origami star I’ve folded this year. And what a cool star it is!
Wondering how to make it? Follow the links below to the diagram and video instructions!

Description

Name:Origami Septima Star
Designer:Ekaterina Lukasheva
Units:6 / 7 (5 and 8-unit assembly is also possible)
Paper ratio:square
Assembled with:no glue
Paper size:7.5 cm
Model size:~ 9 cm
Paper:Patterned kami origami paper (China)
Origami paper, Folia (Germany)
Diagram:Septima Star – diagram
Video:Septima Star – video




Septima Star by Ekaterina Lukasheva






MARDI GRAS FROM NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA!!!








    The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced back to Medieval Europe, though we have no written record of how that really transformed into the current Mardi Gras of today. But the origins of the Mardi Gras we celebrate today....with Kings, Mardi Gras colors, and brass bands....are traced to New Orleans.
    Although we can trace its history to the Romans, a French-Canadian expolorer, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, landed on a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans in 1699 and called it "Pointe due Mardi Gras". He also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane" (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated the very first Mardi Gras.










    In 1704, Mobile established a secret society (Masque de la Mobile)....similar to those who form our current Mardi Gras Krewes. It lasted until 1709. In 1710, the "Boef Graf Society" was formed and paraded from 1711 through 1861. The procession was held with a huge bull's head pushed along on wheels by 16 men. This occurred on Fat Tuesday.
    New Orleans was established in 1718 by Jean-Baptise Le Moyne. By the 1730's, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans...but not in parade form. In the early 1740's, Louisiana's Governor The Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls...the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.










    The earliest reference to Mardi Gras "Carnival" appears in a 1781 report to the Spanish colonial governing body. That year, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Associaiton is the first of hundreds of clubs and carnival organizations formed in New Orleans.
    By the late 1830's, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate Mardi Gras. newspapers began to announce Mardi Gras events in advance.
    In 1871, Mardi Gras's second "Krewe" is formed, the Twelfth Night Reveler's, with the first account of Mardi Gras "throws".











    1872, was the year that a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival-Rex-to parade in the first daytime parade. They introduced the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, the Mardi Gras song, and the Mardi Gras flag.
    In 1873, the first floats were constructed entirely in New Orleans instead of France. In 1875, Governor Warmoth of Louisiana signs the "Mardi Gras Act" making it a legal holiday in Louisiana, which it still is.
    Most Mardi Gras Krewes today developed from private social clubs that have restrictive membership policies. Since all of these parade organizations are completely funded by its members, we call it the "Greatest Free Show on Earth"!











History Behind the King Cake

    As part of Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. We refer to this as the Feast of Epiphany or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night.  This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kinds called "A King's Cake".
    Inside every cake is a tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold). The tradition of having King Cake Parties has evolved through time, and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.












    Originally, King Cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today's King Cakes are much more festive. After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the "baby" is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.
In more recent years, some bakeries have been creative with stuffing and topping their cakes with different flavors of cream cheese and fruit fillings.











  January 6th, the Twelfth Night after Christmas, is also the day Mardi Gras season begins. Mardi Gras Day is always 47 days prior to Easter Sunday (Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday).
    So, in Louisiana, especially, Mardi Gras season and King Cakes go hand in hand with literally hundreds of thousands of King Cakes consumed at parties and office lunch rooms every year.
    Ordering King Cakes over the Internet has now become an annual tradition by consumers all around the world...and many of the bakers offer them year around. After all, you can't have a Mardi Gras party without a King Cake.