Pumpkin & Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

 Pumpkin Cheesecake This year, I promised myself I wouldn’t do another pumpkin recipe during the Thanksgiving period, especially after experiencing ‘pumpkin overload’ from previous years (i.e. Starbucks selling ‘Pumpkin Lattes’ etc).

However, this year I couldn’t help myself (again). I decided the story must be told for Pumpkin and Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake. This recipe came about almost by accident: I wanted to create a swirl effect using pumpkin puree and cheesecake, however there wasn’t enough contrast in color between the two elements. How could I create more drama and contrast in this dessert? By adding some swirls of chocolate, of course!

At first glance, it may seem that there may be too many flavors going on here; pumpkin, chocolate, cream cheese, REALLY? But everything works nicely- the pumpkin flavor is subtle with the chocolate creating a nice accent. For my recipe, I used Butternut Pumpkin (or ‘Butternut Squash’ for U.S. residents), but you can use canned pumpkin if you wish.

For this recipe, 1/2 of the pumpkin- cream cheese mixture is first added to the prepared crust and then 4-5 spoonfuls of melted chocolate are added on top. This process is repeated again and then a knife tip is used to swirl the chocolate throughout the mixture. A thin layer of the crust mixture is sprinkled around the rim of the cheesecake before baking for added decoration.

I served this dessert last night for a dinner party and one of the guests commented that the crust was so good, that it could have been served as a dessert in itself!

So, I’ve learned a lesson here- don’t make any promises that you can’t keep. I promise not to promise next year to avoid any more pumpkin recipes (even Starbucks’ pumpkin lattes can’t turn me away)- I just love pumpkin too much!

P.S. Would love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would make my day!

 

 

Pumpkin and Chocolate SwirlCheesecake
Serves 12
Swirls of chocolate incorporated into a pumpkin-flavored cheesecake
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For the crust
  1. 1 cup graham crackers, finely crushed
  2. 1 cup ginger snaps, finely crushed
  3. ¼ cup pecans, finely chopped
  4. ½ cup butter, melted
For the Filling
  1. 3 8-ounce packets of cream cheese, softened
  2. ¾ cup sugar
  3. 1 tbsp vanilla flavoring
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 1 cup puréed pumpkin (canned or fresh)
  6. 1 tbsp cinnamon
  7. ½ tsp nutmeg
  8. Dash cloves
  9. 1 cup semi-sweet dark chocolate, melted
  10. 2 tbsp thickened cream
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Combine the graham crackers, ginger snaps, pecans and melted butter in a bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (removable bottom). Reserve at least ¼ cup of the crust mixture for the final decoration (see below).
  2. Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add one egg at a time, beating after each until just blended. Add the pumpkin and spices.
  3. In a separate pan, melt the chocolate over low heat on the stovetop- stir in the thickened cream. Add ½ of the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust, followed by 4-5 spoonfuls of the melted chocolate. Repeat the layers, then use the tip of a knife to create swirl patterns. Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture around the rim of the dessert for added decoration.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the center of the dessert is almost set. Let cool then refrigerate for about 3 hours before serving.
Notes
  1. You can use either fresh pumpkin or canned for this recipe
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come to Dinner Lab- USA!

DJ ParkIf you want the excitement of a pop-up restaurant that surprises you with new and exciting flavors (and whose location is kept secret until 24 hours ahead of time), then come to Dinner Lab! Dinner Lab is a concept that began in 2011 in New Orleans and has now spread to 30 other U.S. cities. It describes itself as a nomadic dining experience whose motto is new ideas. rotating chefs. unique spaces.

The dinners are held in unique spaces that exist for only 24 hours and chefs are selected to bring forth a delicious and adventurous menu. I was recently a guest of Dinner Lab, held at the Moniker Warehouse in San Diego’s East Village. DJ Park was the featured chef whose credentials include former stints at L.A. restaurants Okasha and The Fare Life. Chef Parker’s menu had a loose Thanksgiving theme and featured a variety of charred dishes and beer-based sauces (Sam Adams sponsored an open bar at the event). During the evening, Parker introduced his guests to some new taste adventures and definitely woke up some previously bored palettes with dishes such as Duck Carnitas.

The evening started off with the lovely event manager Samantha Saad, who rang a bell and welcomed everyone to Dinner Lab.

SaadNext, Chef DJ Park said a few words to the guests about his menu concept Friendsgiving, of bringing people together around the dinner table. He explained that the first Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving dinner in 1621 probably featured some seafood which influenced his Surf and Turf offering on the menu.

DJ ParkerAll guests were seated together at communal dining tables and were presented with five different courses throughout the evening, each course matched with an appropriate glass of Samuel Adams beer. All dishes were served on paper plates or bowls in order to keep things moving; the emphasis was more on taste rather than on beautiful plating of food.

Appetizer:  Pickled and Charred Crudité

The first course was Pickled and Charred Crudité, an appetizer of raw pickled vegetables dipped in a delicious beer-based sauce. The vegetables were dominated by purple cauliflower, which I had never eaten before, but tasted similar to the white variety. The sauce was a base of crème fraiche flavored with Sam Adams Winter Lager and seasoned with olive powder, a mixture made from dehydrated olives. Although I wasn’t exactly ‘wowed’ by this dish, I was certainly intrigued, thinking “what other interesting things does Chef DJ Park have in store for us this evening?”

Corn Porridge

The second course, Corn Porridge, extended the chef’s theme of charred vegetables, accenting the porridge with ember charred corn and toasted walnuts. I found the charred corn kernels to be a bit too brittle for my taste, but loved the leek ash butter which fused nicely with the porridge.

Roasted Vegetable Stuffing

Roasted Vegetable Stuffing was next up on the list, featuring croissant stuffing, oyster mushrooms and Sam Adams ‘Thirteenth Hour’ stout gravy. It’s not easy presenting a ‘stand alone’ vegetable stuffing, but the chef didn’t disappoint here, marrying the rich taste of the croissants with the meaty oyster mushrooms.

As the evening wore on, my anticipation for the main course reached a crescendo: would the chef trot out the usual turkey offerings or would we be graced with something new? 

Surf and Turf

Answer: we got something new! Surf and Turf, consisting of Duck carnitas, pork belly, charred lobster and seared sole. This dish was definitely the star of the show- the duck was tender and flaky and the pork belly- well let’s just say that I could go for seconds! The pickled berries offered a nice contrast to the savory duck and pork belly, however I felt that the seared sole lacked texture and could have been eliminated from the dish.

A delightful finish for the evening was Rustic Apple Tart– a dish that was small in size but big on taste. Toasted walnuts, cinnamon cream and apple butter, ‘Bravo’ to Chef DG Park!

Apple Tart

If you’d like to try a new dining adventure, come along to Dinner Lab! You can book a ticket for their events through their website  https://dinnerlab.com/ All tickets include cost of the food, tips, tax and unlimited access to the bar.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Dinner Lab; however all opinions are my own. Continue reading

Tulip Cookie with Fresh Mixed Berries

 

Tulip new 1Why not serve this Tulip Cookie with Mixed Berries at either Thanksgiving or Christmas to add some color to your table? I’m not suggesting that you give up your traditional pumpkin pie or Christmas pudding, but adding this dessert to your table may make your guests sit up and take notice!

A Tulip Cookie is made of a delicious wafer-like dough that is molded into shape right after it comes out of the oven. For my mold I used an 8-inch brioche tin (purchased online through Amazon) which produces a nice fluted pattern. However, you could also use a ramekin or custard cup to shape your cookie tulips (see instructions below).

To make the tulip cookie, you first spread the batter into a circular shape before baking it in the oven. As a rule of thumb, the diameter of your dough circle should be about the same diameter as your mold- for instance, my brioche mold was 8 inches in diameter, so I also made my dough circle 8 inches wide.

These tulip cookies are very versatile, you can fill it with almost anything, including ice cream or mousse. May your holiday table be graced with lovely food and lovely friends and family!

Makes one 8 inch wide tulip cookie or two 4 inch wide cookies

Ingredients  (see printed recipe below)

Tulip Batter

  • 4 tbsps softened butter
  • 6 tbsps confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 5 tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 Filling

  • ¾ cup mascarpone
  • ½ cup thickened cream, whipped
  • 3 tbsps white chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups (approx.) mixed berries
  • ¼ cup sugar

 Garnish

  • Additional whipped cream for the fleurettes (can use ready-made whipped cream from a canister, if desired)

 Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Beat the softened butter with a whisk or electric beater until creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until slightly fluffy then add to the butter-sugar mixture.
  • Add the flour and vanilla flavoring and combine until smooth (do not overmix).
  • Prepare a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of batter onto the baking sheet; using the back of a spoon, spread the batter into a round shape about 8 inches in diameter (or less, depending on the size of your mold) and 1/8 inch thick.

 

  •  Place in oven and reduce temperature to 350 F (180 C); bake for 7-10 minutes or until the tulip turns golden brown. Remove the tulip using a spatula and immediately press it into the inside of a brioche mold to form a ‘cookie dish’ with a flat bottom. This should be done while the tulip is still hot. Place the second mold immediately inside the first and press gently to shape it. Leave the tulip to set for several minutes then place in the freezer for several minutes to help firm the shape. If the tulip cools and becomes too brittle to shape, return to oven for 1 minute to soften. Gently remove the tulip cookie from the mold and set aside.

 Press warm cookie dough into inside of brioche mold and then place a second mold inside it  to hold the shape

Brioche tin

  • To prepare the filling, whip the thickened cream until stiff  peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone cheese and add the melted white chocolate. Spoon the mixture into the bottom of the tulip cookie, filling it about 1/3 full.

 Tulip with cheese filling

  •  In a separate bowl, add ¼ cup sugar to a combination of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Add these on top of the mascarpone/cream mixture.

 

  •  Add dots (or fleurettes) of whipped cream to the dessert, using a canister of whipped cream, such as ‘Reddi-wip’. (Alternatively, you can make your own whipped cream and pipe it onto the dessert).

 Cookie Tulip
Alternative to using a brioche mold

If you don’t have access to a brioche mold, you can use a ramekin or round custard dish to mold your tulip cookie dough. Press the warm cookie dough into the inside of a ramekin, let cool then fill with the mascarpone filling and fruit.

 

Tulip Cookie with Fresh Mixed Berries
A delicious vanilla-flavoured wafer shaped and filled with fruit or ice cream of your choice
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
35 min
For the Tulip Batter
  1. 4 tbsps softened butter
  2. 6 tbsps confectioner’s sugar
  3. 2 egg whites
  4. 5 tbsps all-purpose flour
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Filling
  1. ¾ cup mascarpone
  2. ½ cup thickened cream, whipped
  3. 3 tbsps white chocolate bits
  4. 2 cups (approx.) mixed berries
  5. ¼ cup sugar
For the Garnish
  1. Additional whipped cream for the fleurettes
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Beat the softened butter with a whisk or electric beater until creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until slightly fluffy then add them to the butter-sugar mixture.
  2. Add the flour and vanilla flavoring and combine until smooth (do not overmix).
  3. Prepare a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of batter onto the baking sheet; using the back of a spoon, spread the batter into a round shape about 8 inches in diameter (or less, depending on the size of your mold) and 1/8 inch thick.
  4. Place in oven and reduce temperature to 350 F (180 C); bake for 7-10 minutes or until the tulip turns golden brown. Remove the tulip using a spatula and immediately press it into the inside of a brioche mold to form a ‘cookie dish’ with a flat bottom. This should be done while the tulip is still hot. Place the second mold inside the first and press gently to shape it. Leave the tulip to set for several minutes then place in the freezer for several minutes to help firm the shape. If the tulip cools and becomes too brittle to shape, return to oven for 1 minute to soften. Gently remove the tulip cookie from the mold and set aside.
  5. To prepare the filling, whip the thickened cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone cheese and add the melted white chocolate. Spoon the mixture into the bottom of the tulip cookie, filling it about 1/3 full.
  6. In a separate bowl, add ¼ cup sugar to a combination of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Add these on top of the mascarpone/cream mixture.
Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu at Home
Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu at Home
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/