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For a Pal

For a Pal defines Pal as a close friend.  So, I guess the title of this post should  change but then again, it is there and I am not rethinking it!!!

This whole Twitter/Facebook/MySpace/Wordpress world brings us together with others we would never have had the opportunity to meet in the not so distant past.  It seems we are all a friend of a friend of a friend these days.  Luckily, I have met many a folk from across the globe….and some very “Wonderful” folk I might add!!!  The “pal” I am referring to today is not in some far off land or even a different US time zone…she is literally over the hill and across the river from me and yet we have never met!

What’s this about you ask….well this “pal” asked a mutual friend (sorry PP….”oh! but I don’t!”) if I would make her a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake and since I love me some cheesecake, I did!!!!

It's all about the ganache!

It's all about the ganache!

A bit of a sidenote now that I am about to give you the lowdown on this cheesecake and its making… It seems my new Pal has just recently learned she passed her CCRN’s so my dear I hope you enjoy a celebratory slice!!

Now comes either the disappointment or the intrigue, it depends on how comfortable you are with flying solo.

I make many a cheesecake and I have no real recipe just a couple rules.

  • 1 X LG egg for each 8 0z. cream cheese  (use best available CC, no “store brands”
  • Bake in a water bath
  • Bake @ 400 degrees for 15mins, reduce to 300 degrees till center jiggles ever so slightly (please don’t mar the beautiful top of a cheesecake by inserting a skewer or knife to check for doneness!!)

The rest my friends is something I wing!!!!  Sweet, savory, crusts, flavors etc., etc.  There of course are some other rules but these come with time.

  • Don’t overbeat the batter.  Too much air causes the cheesecake to crack, even when using a water bath, which cuts down on this a bit.
  • Do mix 1 egg at a time into the cream cheese till it is fully incorporated
  • Do practice often till you get to know the “it’s done jiggle”!!!

Now for those who need a bit more instruction, as best as I can recall, here is what I did for this particular cheesecake.


  • 3/4 cup crushed oreos
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 4 TBS melted butter

Pulse oreos and peanuts in processor till fine, slowly drizzle in butter till it comes together.  Pat into bottom of 10″ springform pan.


  • 40 oz cream cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Divide the batter and add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to 1 half and 1 cup chocolate ganache to the other.  Pour PB batter over the crust and level, next pour chocolate batter over PB batter.  Place foil prepared* pan into a water bath that comes 3/4 way to top of pan then into oven, bake 15 mins at 400 and then finish off at 300 till you get the “it’s done jiggle.  Let it come to room temp and then refridgerate at least 10 hrs.

Once it was chilled, I then topped it with a white chocolate peanut butter ganache, back to the fridge to let that firm up.  Run a knife around the rim of the pan to loosen the cheesecake, release the lock and serve it up!!!!!

* I should have stated this sooner but when using a water bath to bake in a springform pan you must cover the outside of the pan with a couple of layers of foil so no water seeps in while it is baking!

Congrats Edy!

Congrats Edy!

And as a final tease….some of my favorites.

  • The Classic- a bit of lemon juice and grated rind in the batter and top with fresh fruit.
  • German Chocolate-Chocolate batter with coconut and mini chocolate chips folded in.
  • White Chocolate Raspberry- Fold white chocolate ganache into batter then swirl with a sweet raspberry compote.
  • Chicken Jalapeno with cumin minis- a freakin’ awesome appetizer!!
  • Lobster with Garlic clarified butter drizzle- Only 16 oz cream cheese packed with diced tail meat and a bit of lemon zest, drizzle with garlic clarified butter and brunch is served!!!

Apfelstrudel, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!!!!!

Well, I guess I need to rethink my love for it, or at least the classic Viennese version.  Which of course brings me to this…..

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

As with anything, often there is more than one way to arrive at the final destination and strudel is no different.  The strudel my “granny” made, the strudel I make and the strudel I adore are not  strudel in the classic Viennese way.  With no hanging my head in shame, I proudly proclaim my love for strudel made with phyllo dough!!  This is not to say I won’t eat the classic Viennese version but there is an obvious difference in the doughs, both visually and texturally, and I prefer phyllo.

Visually the difference is more than obvious.

Phyllo vs. Strudel

Phyllo vs. Strudel

Texturally it is a bit more subtle.  Phyllo is like a 2000 year old papyrii disintegrating into a myriad of crackling shards when you bite into it.  Strudel dough is more like a thin leather scroll, dried and cracked but yet still retains a little “tooth” to it.

All of this being said, this months challenge was more about technique for me than taste.  Being that I have technically cheated on every strudel I have ever made, I figured giving the “real thing” a go would be fun…and thanks to

Linda and Courtney

it was!!!!

I stayed very close to the posted recipe with only 2 small changes.  The first being that I eliminated the walnuts and the second being I used Alpine Spice in place of the rum to soak the raisins.  The dough, for me , was the star in this show and after reading the forums and a few things on wikipedia, I had concerns.  Legend has it that the “Austrian Emperor’s perfectionist cook decreed that it should be possible to read a love letter through it“.  Being that I have a tendency to put holes in a lightly tossed pizza dough, I was positive I would end up with a Swiss strudel and not a Viennese one.

(I hope everyone caught that sad reference to swiss cheese!)

My concerns were for naught, this dough was absolutely a marvel to work with.  Not only did I manage to get the 2’x3′ dimensions suggested, I far exceeded them and I could have read numerous love letters through it.  My only “ahhh hell” moment came right after I knew I was done stretching but I had to go one more!!!!  Just a small tear, alas perfection was not to be!!!!

Just shy of perfection!!

Just shy of perfection!!

Dat's how I roll!!!!

Dat's how I roll!!!!

Lovin' from the oven

Lovin' from the oven

Strudel Viennese!

Strudel Viennese!

As for getting back to the roots of strudel, I am so glad this opportunity was given…I found that the technique for making the dough is not as bad as I thought it would be.  However, and I can only speak for myself on this, I have every intention of continuing my cheating ways and using phyllo for my strudel!!!

And please visit my fellow Bakers who dare!!

So this is a day behind schedule but then again “prompt” is not my middle name!!!!


Happy Mother’s Day to all!!

My Mom and my Mother-in-Law are no longer with me, so Mother’s Day is more a day for thought around these parts anymore.

This year however, I was given a Mother’s Day gift!!  Yes, I know, technically, I can’t be considered a mom but then again, I have a tendency to think of some of those around me as my kids.  So, in an odd sort of way I am a Mom!!!!

One of my kids, Widdah, is a culinary student specializing in pastry and yesterday she brought to work some practice icing and her piping kit.  As you all may recall “piping” is not my forte and it was her intent to teach me to make a piped rose…and my friends she did just that!!!

I am not known for my “warm and fuzzy” nature, quite the contrary!!!  Although, yesterday I was beyond giddy with the excitement of actually learning and succeeding at making a piped rose….so much so that my little Widdah was somewhat taken aback, as she has never seen that side of me.

“My Dear, it’s the little things…”

What you see above is what she taught me, although I did do a little photoshop work, as the practice icing was blue.  I think she understood a little how very happy this tutoring made me but what I think she doesn’t know is….

No matter where your externship and life takes you….

…every piped Rose I see from now on will remind me of you and how much I was thrilled you gave me a

Mother’s Day Rose!!!

Keeping the Flour Flying!!!

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May 2009
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