Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Or, The Never-Ending Love Affair

I said I'd have new recipes by the end of the week, didn't I? Of course, it's now the beginning of the week, and this is only one recipe, but it's a cheesecake. Cheesecake doth cover a multitude of sins. It also doth cover a multitude of broken New Year's resolutions, so have at it!

I am sorry for not keeping my word. John Wayne was hit by a car a few days ago, and I plumb forgot about buildabelly. He's alive in our basement as I type, and, hopefully, he now associates cars with excruciating pain and a cast (and not with a comfy basement pad that replaces his outdoor doghouse).


I made this a while back when a visit from some friends provided the excuse. I hadn't made a cheesecake in a couple of years, so it was due time. She and I both appreciate cheesecake appropriately, but I don't think the boys cared much, either way. (Weirdos.)

Without further ado, may I present Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake? I'll do my best to give you the actual amounts I used. I wasn't kidding, Molly, when I said I can't read some of these scraps of paper! I jotted down what I used as I made it, but my memory's a bit garbled, and this sorry scrap of paper isn't clearing much up. Don't worry. Cheesecakes are foolproof!

For the crust:
3 cups crushed chocolate sandwich cookies
1/3 cup butter, melted
Combine in a bowl, then press across the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes and then cool completely.

For the filling:
-four 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened (I know it's anathema in some circles to use neufchatel, but I nearly always do. The texture isn't quite as firm, but my arrhythmically beating heart hopefully isn't as clogged, either.)
-1 cup granulated white sugar + 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 5 eggs
-2 tsp. vanilla
-3/4 cup peanut butter
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-1 tbsp. cocoa powder

Mix the cream cheese and sugars until smooth; add eggs one at a time and beat just 'til combined. Add vanilla and beat just 'til combined. Divide the batter, placing roughly 2/3 in a separate bowl and keeping 1/3 in the mixing bowl. Add peanut butter, heavy cream, and cocoa powder to the remaining one third and beat just 'til combined. Pour the chocolate-peanut butter mixture onto the chocolate crust and smooth it until level. Spoon the vanilla layer over the peanut butter mixture, taking care to cover it without using much smoothing "pressure" so that the layers don't mix into one another (if that makes sense, great; if not, then just dump it on). Bake it a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until the sides begin to pull away from the pan and the center is nearly set. (Sides will be puffed and set, and center will move slightly when shaken.) Cool in a cracked-open oven for ten minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the crust. Cool for one more hour, top with ganache, and then refrigerate overnight to let the flavors ripen.

For the ganache topping:
-some semisweet chocolate chips
-some heavy cream
-some vanilla
*I just added chocolate until it appeared the consistency I wanted, but it was probably roughly one part cream to two parts chocolate-- 1/2 cup cream and 1 cup chocolate chips is a good start, or 1 cup cream to 2 cups chocolate chips, because having extra to lick from the spoon is never a bad thing.

Heat some heavy cream in a small saucepan until boiling. Pour it over some semisweet chocolate chips that you've had the forethought to place in a heatproof bowl. Let sit until melty (yes, that's a valid word). Stir until smooth and combined, add a smidge of vanilla extract, and then pour over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate cheesecake overnight or for at least 8 hours.

Then, eat it for breakfast the next morning. (You! Not ME, for Pete's sake.)

Monday, March 07, 2011

Curried Red Lentil Soup

It's 10:30 p.m. on a Monday night, John's in the shower, and I should be cleaning the house.

And that, my friends, is the dullest possible sentence I could write to usher in the rebirth of buildabelly. Two years have passed, and a million + three recipes are wasting away to nothing in the attic.
The time of liberation has come!

Alright. That's all the pomp and circumstance I can muster at this hour. Onward!

I'll start with the most recent new recipe that I will make until I die. I made it a few nights ago, and it's so good that I had another bowl after I was stuffed to the gills. Gluttony is not something I am proud of nor is it something to which I should admit in this setting, but there you have it. I'm a sucker for Indian food. John loved it, the girls loved it, my sister loved it; what more proof do you need? Just make it already.

It may not be the most lovely picture, but it is a lentil soup, after all. There's only so much one can do.

-2 cups red lentils (I only had one cup of red left and substituted brown for the second cup)
-8 cups vegetable stock (I used water + veg. bouillon paste)
-1 and 1/2 tsp. turmeric
-4 skinny carrots, diced in small pieces

-*I can't remember, but I may have also dumped a package of last summer's frozen parsley into the water while the lentils cooked (@2 tbsp. frozen fresh parsley)

Place the lentils and stock in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the turmeric, carrots, and parsley, if using. Partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 45 minutes or until the lentils are soft and tender, stirring occasionally.

-extra virgin olive oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-@ 1 and 1/2 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
-@ 1 and 1/2 tbsp. fresh garlic, finely chopped
-1 tsp. ground cumin
-2 tsp. ground coriander
-2 tsp. curry powder (I used red curry); if this is your first foray into making your own Indian food, start with less and add to taste.
- ground cayenne, to taste
-1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
-salt, to taste

For the seasoning, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion to the pan and cook until the onion is softened and begins to brown. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, and curry powder; cook and stir for one minute. Add to the lentils, along with the tomatoes and their juice. Simmer til heated through; add cayenne and salt, to taste, and add more water as needed to reach desired consistency.

*Recipe credit: I adapted this recipe from Lisa at, who herself adapted it from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey. Also, Lisa suggests blending a portion of this soup with an immersion blender before serving. We don't own that gadget, and it was delicious as is.

More to come later this week.
Prepare those bellies, people.