Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Chocolate Cheese Cake Pie

print recipe card posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

This easy no-bake Chocolate Cheese Cake Pie is a perfect recipe for the beginner cook!

All it takes is just 5 ingredients:

The hardest part is that before you get to dig in, the pie has to set (get firm) in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving it!

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There are many pre-made crumb pie crusts available at the grocery store, including ones made from graham crackers or from chocolate wafers.

If you are up to making your own crumb pie crust, all the better! I have done a photo-tutorial on How to Make a Graham Cracker Pie Crust. You can choose which crumb crust you would prefer, depending on your cooking skill level.

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Start by finely chopping 12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. (A serrated edge knife actually works the best for chopping both chocolate and nuts.) Put the chocolate into a heat-proof glass bowl or a metal bowl.

Now measure out 1/2 cup of the heavy cream (the remaining cup is going to get whipped!) and 1/4 cup (which is 4 tablespoons) of corn syrup.

You can buy either light or dark corn syrup. In this recipe I am using the dark (which has a more robust flavor), but you can use the light if that’s what you have on hand.

For those of you who live in parts of the world where corn syrup is not readily available, there is a fabulous description of liquid sweeteners and the appropriate substitutions at Cooks’ Thesaurus.

Add the cream to the finely chopped chocolate…

…and the corn syrup.

These three ingredients need to get melted together on top of simmering water.

In a medium sauce pan, bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer. (A simmer is when you see small bubbles on the bottom of the pan.)

Set the chocolate mixture on top of the simmering water. The water itself should not be touching the bottom of the bowl that the chocolate mixture is in.

Give the chocolate an occasional stir.

Do not remove it from the stove until the chocolate is totally melted. This will take only a few minutes at most.

Remove the chocolate from the stove and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.

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In a another bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream…

…until stiff peaks are formed. (For a quick review on whipping cream, check out my post on How to Make Whipped Cream)

Set the bowl of whipped cream aside for just a moment.

With your electric hand mixer, beat in the softened cream cheese to the cooled melted chocolate mixture.

Using a rubber spatula (not the electric hand mixer!), the whipped cream needs to get folded into the chocolate mixture. This lightens the chocolate mixture resulting in the perfect taste and texture for the final pie.

Folding is a technical cooking term that means to combine generally a lighter ingredient (the whipped cream) into a heavier ingredient (the chocolate mixture) by first placing the lighter mixture on top of the heavier mixture. Then vertically cutting through both ingredients in the center of the bowl, across the bottom and back up the side, across the top and …well that just sounds way more complicated than it is! Check out this video at Expert Village on How to Fold!

By the time you have finished folding all the ingredients will have a uniform look.

The filling is now ready to pour into the prepared pie shell.

This pie will take a good 3-4 hours minimum to set in the refrigerator. Once it does, it will develop a perfect “Cheese Cake” consistency, which no one can resist!

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Cake for Beginners

print recipe card posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Since I began startcooking.com, chocolate cake has been in the “Top 5 List” of the most requested recipes. Finally I have discovered the perfect chocolate cake recipe for beginner cooks. This moist, rich, dense, chocolate cake is one that you will want to make again and again. Many thanks to Nigella Lawson for this perfect recipe!

There are six steps to making this cake

  1. Prepare the Pan
  2. Prepare the Ingredients
  3. Mixing the Ingredients
  4. Baking the Cake
  5. Removing the Cake from the Pan
  6. Making the Frosting

Let’s startcooking!

1. Preparing the Pan

This cake is baked in a 9-inch wide (and 2 1/2 -3 inches high) “springform” pan. This type of baking pan has a hinge on the side that expands. This allows you to remove the bottom of the pan from the sides, making removing the cake from the pan really easy.

To begin, the (closed!) pan needs to get “greased” (putting a layer of grease or shortening on the bottom of the pan.) You can grease the pan with butter, shortening, or a non-stick spray. (I used the non-stick spray.)

Then you need to line the pan with parchment paper. Cut the parchment paper to match the size of the pan.

Press the parchment paper to the bottom and sides of the pan. The grease will make it stick.

Be sure to get the pan prepared before you begin mixing the ingredients!

Go and pre-heat your oven to 350 F. degrees (or 180C., Gas mark 4)

2. Preparing the Ingredients

If your measuring is not exact when you are making soups or stews, it will not totally throw off the recipe. However, with baking, measuring must be really accurate! Get all of your ingredients assembled and measured before you start mixing anything together.

I am making this cake using the standard US measuring techniques, but I am listing the metric amounts as well.

Nine ingredients are needed to make the cake. (Don’t make the frosting until the cake is baked, and stone cold.) Measure all the cake ingredients and set them aside:

First, there’s the surprise ingredient that makes this cake so rich – 8 ounces (250 ml) of Guinness stout beer!! (I promise, there is no beer taste to this cake!)

Second ingredient: 1 stick (250gr) of butter, unsalted and cut into slices

Third ingredient: 3/4 cups (75gr) of unsweetened cocoa powder (this is not the same as instant hot chocolate!)

Fourth ingredient: 2 cups granulated of sugar (400gr caster sugar)

Fifth ingredient: 3/4 cups of sour cream (1 x 142ml pot)

Sixth ingredient: 2 eggs

Seventh ingredient: 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract (15 ml vanilla essence)

Eighth ingredient: 2 cups of white flour (275gr plain flour)

Finally, the ninth ingredient: 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda (12.5 ml bicarbonate of soda)

3. Mixing the Ingredients

Part one: the basic chocolate mixture.

Pour the Guinness stout into a 4 quart saucepan…

…add the butter…

…and (over medium heat) stir or whisk until the butter has melted.

Whisk in the cocoa powder…

…and the sugar.

Once the sugar has melted, remove the pan from heat.

Part Two: The egg mixture

Crack the eggs into a small dish, check for shells, and then put the egg into a medium bowl.

Add the vanilla extract…

…and the sour cream.

Whisk these three ingredients together.

Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate.

Whisking until…

…it is well blended.

Part Three: Finishing the Batter

Now add the flour…

…and the baking soda.

Whisk everything together until it is totally blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Be sure to scrape the pan clean with a silicone spatula.

4. Baking the cake

Put the cake into the pre-heated 350 F. degrees (or 180C., Gas mark 4) oven.

Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake…

…comes out clean.

Check the cake after 45 minutes. This should be done while the cake is still in the oven! I did it on the counter top just for demonstration purposes. Even though my cake looks like it is not quite cooked in the very center, the pick came out clean so I know it is cooked.

Set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely. Do not remove the cake from the pan until it is cold!

5. Removing the Cake from the Pan

Don’t even think about making the frosting until the cake is stone cold!! This will take a couple of hours for the cake to cool completely.

To remove the cake from the pan, first pop the hinge.

Then just lift the ring off the cake.

The parchment paper will be stuck to the cake. Gently peel off the parchment paper.

If this were a cheesecake, you would just serve it right on top of the metal base of the pan.

This is such a sturdy, moist cake that the bottom of the pan can easily be removed. First put the cooling rack on top of the cake…

…and the bottom of the pan slides right off.

Remove the paper.

Flip your cake dish so that the right side of the dish is facing the bottom of the cake.

The cake will be sandwiched between the cooling rack and the cake dish. Flip the whole thing!

Remove the rack and the cake is ready to frost!

6. Frosting the Cake

Once frosted, this cake is supposed to be reminiscent of a pint of stout – a dense, dark bottom with a frothy white top.

The frosting is made with confectioners sugar, heavy cream (or milk), cream cheese, and vanilla.

Cut 8 ounces (300gr) of cream cheese into cubes and set them in a medium mixing bowl.

Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 15 seconds. You do not want to melt the cream cheese, just soften it a bit.

Sift 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar (150gr icing sugar) on top of the cream cheese.

Sifting the powdered sugar gets rid of any lumps.

Using an electric mixer, whip the cheese and sugar together until it is fluffy and smooth.

Whip in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Add up to 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream (or milk) in small amounts…

…beating after each addition…

…until you have a spreadable consistency.

(NOTE: This is a lot less heavy cream than indicated in the English-metric version of this recipe. English double cream is much thicker than heavy cream and has a consistency of something close to American sour cream.)

Spread the frosting on the top of cake, starting at middle and fanning out to the top edge of the cake.

The sides of the cake do not get frosted.

Although if you love frosting, double the frosting recipe and frost the sides as well! (I wish I had done that!)

WOW! We did it! Want a slice? Or two?

Adapted from:
Feast by Nigella Lawson

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Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate

print recipe card posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

What a treat! Everyone knows it’s a celebration when you are served strawberries dipped in chocolate! Learning how to make them isn’t difficult but may take a bit of practice figuring out how to dip and not drop the strawberries in the melted chocolate!

Buy medium size berries – two bites is the prefect size. As beautiful as those giant ones are, they are too hard to eat!

Gently rinse the berries in cool water…

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…and then spread them out on a clean dish towel to dry.

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Let them dry completely before you start dipping. Not a drop of water should be left on the berries.

In addition to dipping the strawberries in chocolate, you can also dip the edges in coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles or nonpareils. (Those are those colored candy dots in the photo above.)

Eight ounces of chocolate will cover about 12-14 medium-large strawberries. You can use any type of chocolate you prefer – dark, milk, semi-sweet or white chocolate.

(Note: A block of white chocolate is a lot tastier than “white chocolate chips, which are only “chocolate flavored” and not the real thing!)

If you are using a chocolate bar or a block of chocolate, chop it into small pieces…

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…and then put the chocolate in a small microwave safe dish. Melt it, in the microwave, for about 1 minute and 30 seconds on medium. (Don’t cover the dish!)

When melting chocolate chips, they will not really change shape that much until you give it a stir.

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The goal is to slowly melt the chocolate, not bring it to a boil. If it still isn’t melted, continue melting in 15 second increments in the microwave. Stir the chocolate. It should be smooth and have no lumps.

 

Once the chocolate is melted, start dipping.

Try to cover about 2/3 of the strawberry with chocolate. It looks prettier than covering the entire strawberry.

Then gently dip the strawberry into one of your additional toppings.

When you do the dipping, be sure to hold back the green top so that it does not get covered in chocolate.

If you are having difficulty holding the strawberry, skewer it, just under the green bit, with a toothpick.

You are less likely to drop the strawberry if you hold it with a toothpick. (There are all sorts of chocolate dipping tools for sale as well.)

Put the dipped berries on some wax paper to set. They should be stored in the refrigerator, and eaten at room temperature, within 24 hours.

Enjoy!

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