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Caramel September…

Ah, fall.  So they say.  I think it’s about 90 outside, so right now it’s just fall in my mind.  Last year about this time it was all about butter pecan…this year?  Caramel!  I stumbled over a recipe for caramel cake.  Now, caramel cake is an old southern favorite.  However, I had never made one.  Ever.  So last week I gave it a try and it turned out great.

But you know I can’t just leave it alone.  I was thinking to myself, ‘self?  You know what would be really, really good with this caramel?’  And self says, ‘well, heck, almost anything.  Pretzels, popcorn, apples, rice crispy treats…I mean, anything!’  And I says back to self, ‘yeah, but think about chocolate cake bathed in this caramel!’

Well, the more I thought about it – and I did think about it A LOT, I decided that that would be a very, very rich cake.  So I decided to try something else I’ve never tried before – a checkerboard cake.  Here are the recipe links for both cakes, and the caramel icing:

Simply Perfect Chocolate Cake

Perfect Caramel Cake

Okay now we’re set.  Let’s do this!

chocolate batterFirst off, I made the vanilla cake layers from the Caramel Cake recipe.  Don’t be afraid of all that vanilla.  This makes a perfect crumb vanilla cake.  Second, make the chocolate layers.  Since finding this recipe I’ve probably made it half a dozen times and it’s great every.single.time.  My favorite part is the way the batter fluffs almost into a mousse.

origamiNow, origami time!  I’m sure there is some fancy shmancy tool to help you cut the circles, but I did a little geometry and math and stuff, and came up with this:

naked layers

Now because these cakes have slightly different textures, and because I probably SHOULD have used some previously mentioned fancy shmancy tool, my circles didn’t fit entirely snugly.  Meh.  More caramel in-between, I say….win/win.  However, I did find out that you need to do a quick turn in the freezer once you have the layers cut, and then trim the tops.  The first cake, the ‘tester’, was pretty ugly.  The second one is better, but I still topped it with both sea salt and brickle chips.  I mean, why not?

making caramelNow, the caramel.  The recipe is well written, the caramel is divine.  BUT – 15-20 minutes?  Try 45-50 minutes!  Just take your time, it will come together.  The first round with this caramel last weekend prompted me to buy a candy thermometer.  SETTLE DOWN NOW, MARTHA.  It’s not a big deal.  $5 at hellmart, and super easy to use.  Get one.  You’re an adult now, you should already have one.

Assembly:  pour about 1/4 of the caramel on the bottom layer.  Ease it to the edge of the layer.  Put on the next layer and repeat.  Same with the last layer- then after you spread it to the edge, pour that last bit of caramel on top.  Sorry, no, that was not for you to dip your fingers in.  Make your own for that!  Top with sea salt flakes.  Add the brickle, don’t add the brickle, whatever, but the salt really does add that final something.

Try this cake.  All vanilla, all chocolate, some combination – but try it.  It is well worth the effort.  Enjoy!

finished with brickle

Mousse for Moose! It’s a chocolate kind of day…

finishedAnother hot day today, and we are stuck inside.  Well, inside > outside > inside > repeat infinityoverandoveragain.  Between checking the smoker (new toy!) and letting Moose in and out (that Prednisone is a liquid maker!) we are doing laps.

With all that activity, one must refuel.  What better way than chocolate?  And there is a chocolate cake recipe that just happens to have a sister recipe for cupcakes, that I’ve been looking at for months.  Now, that recipe comes with a Swiss meringue frosting.  I didn’t think I wanted to tackle that today, but I did have my eye on a buttercream mousse that looked divine.  So, here we go!

Now the cake recipe can be found here:  Chocolate cake with swiss buttercream.  Within there is both the swiss meringue frosting, and the link to the cupcakes.  I had a perfectly good chocolate cake recipe, that I have used repeatedly and in many applications here on the blog.  But this recipe?  First, no buttermilk.  I don’t know about you, but I buy buttermilk only to make cakes; its not something I keep laying around.  I have had little luck with making the homemade buttermilk, so I was happy to see this alternative.  A cup of cocoa powder?  A CUP??? Yes!  A cup!  And when the recipe says it whips up light and fluffy and is so much easier to control than the usual liquid batter for chocolate cakes…prebake

Yeah.  Just look at it!  I tell you it was really hard not to lick that spoon!  Baking these jewels filled the house with chocolatey heavenly smells.  I’m not a chocolate fiend, but these little cakes made me want to sit right down and dig in.naked baked

Okay so on to the frosting.  Mousse frosting  Calling this frosting is almost criminal.  This is truly, truly mousse.  I could envision sitting down with biscotti and dipping….but focus!  There are several steps, but don’t be scared.  First, you heat up your cream with a touch of corn syrup, and pour it over the chocolate chips.  Let it melt, whisk until smooth, and let it come to room temp.early mousse

Then you whip in the softened butter until smooth, and freeze in 5 minute time intervals until the thickness is mousse-like.  Put it back on the mixer and whip until light and fluffy.  You’ll know.  Trust me, you’ll know!

 

My chief testers agreed this is a keeper!  (only small bites – chocolate is generally a no-no for pups).  Give this recipe a try – I imagine it would be awesome with a few chocolate curls…a big glass of milk…enjoy!

  • (UPDATE:  for those of you who might be counting calories or carbs, per cupcake with frosting – and there is no way you will use all that frosting, so this estimate is high:
    • 330 calories
    • 25g fat
    • 26g carbs
    • 2g protein
  • side note – the figures above consider 16 ounces of semi-sweeet toll house morsels in place of both chocolates in the frosting

 

 

 

Peanut, Peanut Butter! Reese’s!

I have been remiss in my duties!  I realized that I had not shared with you my report on this fantastic recipe my SIL Jeannie turned me on to:  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake.  It is so fantastically good, I didn’t even mess with the recipe very much!

I’m not going to do a recipe retype here – go to the page and give that woman all the credit.  You HAVE to make this.  I have made 3 of them in the last 2 weeks!

prep phaseA few pointers I will share…don’t over cook the brownie crust on the first bake.  It will get plenty of baking time during the filling phase.  Also, about half the amount of ganache drizzle is PLENTY.  This cheesecake has just the right amount of chocolate interspersed, between the chips and chopped up Reese’s (whoever invented Reese’s needs an award…), and the brownie crust.

base with chips prebakeIsn’t this thing just gorgeous?  I mean, even without topping, it’s one of the prettiest bakes I’ve seen.  No credit to me – its the peanut butter goodness that lends that nutty brown finish.  Beautiful!  I am already dreaming about a Snicker’s cheesecake…

finished no toppingTry this!  Have plenty of milk and coffee on hand!  Invite your friends and family, but only the ones you like because you won’t be able to get rid of them!

Enjoy!

 

 

Moose loves his blueberries…

So when a friend at work told me about a guy he knows with a small blueberry farm who delivers picked, washed and ready to eat berries by the gallon?  I thought well, with our MooseMan ill and being pampered like crazy, we need some of these berries.

Let me tell you.  Those leetle tiny packs in the store?  Of those leetle tiny berries?  For that Great Big $$$?  These berries blow them out of the water for size, taste AND price!  I may have to get more!

So I was toodling around Pinterest last night looking for blueberry recipes.  Ya’ll.  There are recipes out there for everything from the expected sweets to a green pepper and berry salsa (hmmmm, aren’t my bell peppers almost grown??), berry and bleu cheese salad….you name it.  I found many recipes for muffins, but didn’t have all the stuff I needed.  I DID however have the stuff I needed to use Mamma’s pound cake recipe…

pecansFirst things first – in a textstorm with son Chaney, we decided that candied pecans in the batter and a graham streusel on top was in order.  Behold, Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Candied Pecans and Graham Streusel was born in our crazy brains.  First, the pecans.  One cup of pecan halves (I went ahead and chopped mine first – you can go either way)  goes into 1/2 cup of brown sugar, a pinch of salt and 2T of water that you have brought to a tiny roil in a non-stick pan.  Add in the pecans and cook, stirring constantly (don’t let it burn!) for 3 minutes.  The turn out onto wax paper to cool.  NOTE TO SELF:  butter the dang paper next time.  Seriously.

dust your berries

Make the cake batter.  Here’s the ingredient list:

  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp lemon flavoring
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temp
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • the candied pecans you made up there

Cream butter and sugar until well combined.  Beat eggs in singly at medium speed.  Add in lemon (you can add some zest too, I just didn’t have any).  Blend in the salt and baking powder.  Take 2T of the flour and dust your berries.  This is rumored to keep them all from sinking, but I don’t know if that really works.  Hard to tell here with all these berries.  Now blend in the flour and sour cream in portions – 1/3 flour, 1/2 sour cream, 1/3 flour, 1/2 sour cream, and end with the flour.  Hold here.

Make your streusel – 2/3 cup melted butter mixed with 1.5 cups graham crumbs, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar.  Spray your pans.

Now break apart your pecans, chop them, whatever, just get them small, and stir into the batter.  Now, gently, VERY gently, fold in the berries.  Fill your muffin tins 2/3 full, and top with the streusel.  I had enough batter for 24 muffins and a small loaf.

Bake at 325 for 20 minutes, check, and continue baking in 5 minute increments until the top springs back.  Hard to use the poke test as you will more likely stab a berry than get a good reading.

Cool a bit, then transfer to rack to complete cooling.  You can make up a drizzle with 10X and lemon juice to top, or not, as you wish.  Some will have more berries, some less, but it will all be fine ’cause no one is going to eat just one.

baked in pan

It smells blueberry heavenly in here!  And yes, Moose got a muffin.  He approves.  Hope you do too!finished white plate

 

 

Happy Birthday Shannon!

So Son’s bride had a birthday this week.  She has only ever requested one dessert – tiramisu – so I thought it was time to make a second stab at it.  Last year we did the Tiramisu cake, which was good, but this year I wanted to try my hand at ladyfingers.

Shannon has her hands full with The Boy, and The Boys (Tank and Axel) not to mention Yard Boy (Buckshot).  With all that testosterone, you need a little backup in the ladyfinger department.  Now don’t get me wrong – she can hold her own – but a little sweet treat now and then won’t hurt matters!

I looked around for a ladyfinger recipe that met my 2 criteria:  easy enough for me to do, and fancee enough to have great taste.  This link takes you to a recipe that does just that Ladyfingers.  A few tips – if you lay your ladyfingers on parchment to cool, you may get stuck.  Try and leave it on the drying rack only.  Make the fillings first; the fingers cool quickly.  Second, and I don’t understand the science behind this but I’m sure someone does – the dark pan cooked quicker and with a better texture result than the bright pan.

tiramisu ladyfinger batterYou don’t get a lot of, well, stretch with these.  When you pipe them out, make them pretty close to the size you want them to end up.  I got a few more out of the recipe than it stated, but I had a few testers around to take up the slack so it all worked out.

tiramisu baked ladyfingersNow, mascarpone cheese is great.  Really great.  Around here, its also really expensive.  So I clicked around and found a recipe for a substitute.  Here’s that link:  Mascarpone substitute.  You are going to think to yourself, Self?  and Self says, yeah?  Self, you’ll say, this ain’t enough.  Well, you’re wrong, sorta.  By the time we add 2 cups of this vanilla custard you’ll have plenty Vanilla pastry cream custard.  Make up the mascarpone sub like it says, then add in 1/2 to 3/4 cups, maybe even a cup if you like it sweeter of 10x sugar, and 2 cups of the cooled custard (yeah, sorry – you’ll need to make that earlier in the day.  But the good news is you’ll have lots to taste!).  Blend it good.  I used the whip attachment – whipped the mascarpone-ish first until it was fluffy and light, then whipped in the sugar and pastry cream.

For assembly, you’ll need some coffee (leftover from this morning’s brew is fine, just make it strong) with a bit of liquor (likoor? whatever) in it – I used amaretto because it’s what I had.  Also added about a tablespoon of sugar.  Dip the bottoms of your lady’s in this blend.  Just barely.  I mean, just do let the hems of their skirts touch the coffee mixture.  Layer these in a dish – mine is a sealable Cheap-o-ware container, about 6ish by 8ish and tall.  Now put 1/3 of the filling on there and smear it around.  Go ahead and lick the spoon, no one’s looking.  Repeat twice more until you run out of parts.  You may have a few fingers left over.  ~looking away tactfully~ Oh!  Sorry, I was wrong.  None left.  Now take your handy dandy sifter, that you bought 15 years ago and used once, and sift on some cocoa powder.  You can substitute dark or semi-sweet chocolate curls here if you like, or you can even just sprinkle on those teeny tiny semi-sweet chips.  All/any would work great.  Now refrigerate until set, several hours if you can stand it.

tiramisu completeI hope Shannon enjoys this Tiramisu, and saves me a picture of a cut piece.  It was fun to put together, and as usual not nearly as difficult as I had worked my imagination up to be.  The custard addition gives it a little something extra, and the mascarpone substitution?  Well, if you don’t tell anyone….

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Lover’s Cake

Today was another piddle around the house day.  Did a little yard work, took Esmerelda for a walk, tooled around town to see what the tourist contingent was up to (apparently, they were up to stripping the local grocery like a swarm of locusts during one of the plagues).  Something sweet would be nice, says I.

But what would you like? said me to I.  Well…..how about peanut butter something?  So I wandered around pinterest for a bit and found – The Ultimate!  That is what this blog says (Peanut Butter Lover’s Cake) and by golly I believe it!

Folks, just the smell while mixing the batter is peanut butter heaven.  Butter, peanut butter, brown AND white sugars, vanilla and eggs….buttermilk!  How can you go wrong?  I decided on 3-9″ layers (because I only have 2-8″ pans at present).  Watch your baking time on these.  This cake is so tender, that the touch top method may lead you astray.  You will still get a bit of a dent when the cakes are fully done, so do the toothpick method instead.  Look at the edge on that one layer!  Wonder if anyone would miss that part…

The frosting is just as great as the cake…lick the spoon great.  Spreads just like a dream, too.  And how could you skip the ganache?  You can’t!  But when it’s this darn easy to make, why would you?  This would be a great dipping sauce for fruit, too.  For those healthy days.  Yeah.

So, assembly required of course.  I added the finely chopped nuts between the layers, too.  For that little extra peanut goodness.  Little texture.  Fiber.  Whatever.  I had plenty of frosting if you want just a straight frosted cake; next time though I will do an extra 1/2 batch so I can get enough to do some fluff piping.  This icing is just too good to limit yourself.

…and for the finished product – voila!

PB Lover's finished

Of course, I didn’t let this sit still for long before cutting it…

PB Lover's sliced

If you are any kind of peanut butter lover AT ALL, you must try this recipe.  Enjoy!

Strawberry and Custard Filled Buttermilk Layer Cake

My work buddy Hannah is leaving us.  She is moving on to bigger and better things, and we all wish her well of course, but we will miss her!  To celebrate our time together and send her off with best wishes, we are doing a potluck tonight at work.  Now, you know, with me it’s all or nothing – I’ll either bring a jar of pickles and paper plates, or I’ll bake.

Today, we bake.

Last night I prepared the strawberry filling.  I wanted to be sure and have plenty of cooling time, as you want this to be completely cool before you assemble your cake.  In a medium saucepan on medium low heat, bring 2-1/2 cups of sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup of sugar and 2-1/2 Tbsp of corn starch to a simmer.  You can add a dash of flavor if you like – I put in a bit of lemon extract.  Let this simmer, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken.  Pour into a non-reactive bowl, lay wax paper directly on the filling and refrigerate.  I did use frozen strawberries instead of fresh (because that’s what I had!) and ran it through my Bullet to break them up.

Now for the custard layer…2 egg yolks, 2 tsp of corn starch and 1 Tbsp of sugar mixed well in a bowl.  Next time I will use more sugar, but since this layer in this particular cake is more for moisture and to relieve the starkness of the strawberry filling, it’s just fine as is.  Now in a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of milk and 1tsp of vanilla until warm.  Wisk it into the egg mixture, then put it all back in the saucepan and simmer on low, stirring constantly, until it thickens.  Put this in a bowl and top with wax paper just like the strawberry filling, and chill.

This is a simple buttermilk layer cake.  I used this recipe, and increased it by half, giving me 3-9″ layers instead of 2-8″.  Be sure and watch your baking time – mine was done in 20 minutes instead of 25, so you may want to start checking at 15-18 minutes.

Buttermilk Vanilla Cake

Make your frosting.  I used my old whipped cream cheese favorite – 8oz of cream cheese whipped with 3/4 cup regular sugar and a tsp of vanilla, then drizzle in 1-1/2 cups super cold whipping cream, then whip the daylights out of it until light and fluffy.  Fill a piping bag and make a ring around the bottom layer to hold the fillings in place.  Smear on the strawberries (amount to taste), then half the custard.  Next layer, repeat.  Then top with the final layer and cover the entire thing with the frosting you have left.  Now, I happened to have some milk chocolate ganache laying around, and strawberries + custard + chocolate?  Yeah!  So I drizzled that on top.

My hope is that this super moist and tender cake will hold together!  I did have a crack develop in the top layer (I usually don’t level my layers, so this is always a risk) but I hurried up and put in the fridge to chill well before transporting tonight.

I will try to get a picture of the inside when we cut this concoction and update this post.  I hope my Hannah enjoys her last night with us, and especially hope this cake leaves her with sweet memories!

Caramel Apple Buttermilk Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

So the problem with buttermilk – well, around here you either get fat free in pints, which I refuse to use in baking, or full fat in half gallons.  With just the 2 of us here (not counting The Pack) it takes a LOOOOOOONG time to use up half a gallon of buttermilk.  So I was trolling around on the interwebs this morning, looking for a use or 2 for the almost full container of buttermilk I have in the fridge.  I ran across a recipe for buttermilk ranch scalloped potatoes, which I will make tonight for the spousal unit.  But that only called for 2 cups.  That still left me a lot of buttermilk.  Realizing that I also had apples, which I should eat as is instead of making into something sweet and gooey and luscious (come on, you know me better than that) I decided on apple cake.

If you’ve ever looked on Pinterest for apple cake recipes, you know that they are as plentiful as sandspurs in a well-meaning southern gardener’s front yard lawn.  Every possible variation you can think of.  So, I decided to improvise based on several different recipes, and came up with this.

The basic cake recipe is based on a buttermilk pound cake:

  • 2.5 cups of sugar – I mixed half brown and half white
  • 2 sticks of butter

cream until smooth

  • 4 eggs

blend in one at a time until the batter lightens

  • 2 tsp apple pie spice (you can use cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

mix all that in at low speed

  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk

mix those in batch wise, starting and ending with flour.  Scrape down the bowl between mixes to make sure you get it all incorporated

  • 2 medium apples, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans (you can increase if you want – that just happens to be what I had)
  • tiny splash of lemon juice (not necessary, but it does liven up the flavors a bit)

stir in.  Now divide the batter between 3-9″ pans you have prepared with baking spray, and bake for 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  You’ll know it’s done when its a pretty golden brown and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

The cream cheese frosting recipe is that old tried and true favorite of mine- 3/4 cup plain sugar blended with one cold 8oz block of cream cheese until smooth, then drizzle in a cup of super cold heavy cream and whip on high.  This stuff is just great.  Love it.  It has that hint of cream cheese tang, but is so light and fluffy, it will trick you into thinking it’s just whipped cream frosting.

You can do the caramel, or leave it off; today I decided to do the caramel.  The recipe is published earlier in the blog, but its basically 6 Tbsp butter, a cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  Salt if you want.

To assemble this creation, frost the bottom layer.  Drizzle on the caramel.  Top with the middle layer, frost, drizzle.  Top with the top layer, frost top and sides (if you have frosting left over, you can use it for decorative piping) and pour the caramel on top, letting it run down the sides.

apple cake completeYou’ll want to keep this refrigerated until about 30 minutes before serving.  Expect this one to fall ALL the heck apart when you cut it – it is super, super moist.  Enjoy!

 

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cake

double stack peanut butter frosted brownies complete closeup….aka what you call your chocolate cake when your midnight musings on how to change a recipe turn into not quite what you imagined!

So our buddy Amy is back.  She had been on extended assignment in the far far away, and we missed her terribly.  To welcome her back, we planned a potluck at work.  Now, anytime we do that, it is SO busy that we barely get to eat what we bring, but for Amy we decided it tempt fate.

Amy is a chocolate and peanut butter freak.  There, it’s out there.  No shame, that one.  So I decided to remake the Reese’s Peanut Butter Overload cake that I’ve done for her before.  I do a tweak here and there, but basically it’s dark chocolate cake, with a peanut butter buttercream, chocolate ganache, and liberal sprinklings of PB cups.  I was contemplating this last night, and knew I had some dark chocolate ganache that I really wanted to incorporate.  So, I added it to the cake in place of the cup of coffee, added about 2 Tbsp instant coffee granules, and in addition to 1/2 cup of cocoa instead of 3/4.  What a beautiful batter this was!  Wish I had taken a picture, it was so lovely.  I proceeded to load my pans, totally forgetting that I make this in 3 layers, not 2.  This, folks, is what happened:

double stack peanut butter frosted brownies

Like a military haircut, high on the sides and tight on top!  Those little holes?  No, that’s not a speck on your screen.  Those are the testers.  And you know when you test brownies, and there is that little ‘crunch’ texture when you break through the surface into the goodness below?  Yeah, that happened.

So, I preserved, made the frosting (2 sticks butter, 2 cups peanut butter, 4 cups 10X, and about 1/4 to 1/3 cup heavy cream because I had no milk), and went to assembling.  The ganache is 2 cups of milk chocolate chips and 1 cup of heavy cream, 30 seconds at a time in the microwave until it comes together with gentle but persistent stirring.  This is going to be a super rich, won’t-take-much-to-sugarcoma-someone desert.  I hope my friend Amy enjoys it, as much as we will love having her back.

double stack peanut butter frosted brownies complete

Toll House Cheesecake

Who doesn’t love Toll House cookies?  Anyone?  No one I know.  And we already know we all love cheesecake, so wouldn’t you think….yeah!  Toll House Cheesecake!  A chocolate chip cookie bottom, filled with that wonderful New York Cheesecake batter with a few chips thrown in.  Maybe a ganache top?  Let’s do it!

First of all, pan prep.  Parchment paper line the bottom of your 9″ springform pan.  If you leave the little tabs on 2 sides, its easier to slide the finished cheesecake off the bottom of the pan, so you don’t accidentally scratch the surface trying to get up under there with a spatula.

Next, make your cookies.  I used the recipe on the back of the Nestle bag for regular Toll House cookies, but I’m sure any cookie recipe will do.  Save about 1/2 cup of the chips for later.  Press about 1.5 cups of the batter down in the pan for your crust.  Tip:  use the empty butter wrappers to help you press it out without getting sticky dough all over your hands, the counter, the sink, your shirt, your pants, etc.

Bake the crust at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, get your cookie pans loaded with the rest of the cookie dough, and go ahead and bake those off too, or refrigerate for later.

thc-cheesecake-cookies

Take a break, get a glass of milk, eat 1-3 cookies.  Doctor’s orders.  Or someone’s.  Doesn’t matter, just do it.

thc-cheesecake-batter-prebake

Start your pot of water to boil for the water bath.  Decrease your oven temp to 325, mix the batter according to recipe directions (New York Cheesecake with Strawberries) and stir any leftover chocolate chips you may have.  This is an optional, but very nice addition.  Pour into the prepared pan.  Now, you will have about 1.5 cups of extra batter because of the rise of the crust.  That’s ok – put it in a covered container and refrigerate.  Later on you can pull it out, allow it to come to room temp, and bake it off in muffin tins.  Notice instead of wrapping the pan in foil x 2, I’m using a slightly larger, 2″ tall pan to protect my cheesecake from the water bath.  Go ahead and bake according to the recipe link – my oven is slow, so I’m baking it for the entire hour and 45 minutes.  If your oven is a non-geriatric non-hypothyroid oven, start checking at 1 hour 30 minutes.  When its done (very little jiggle in the middle – sounds like a good idea in lots of life areas…but I digress), turn off the oven, crack the door just a little, and leave it for another 30 minutes to an hour.  After this you’ll want to refrigerate for several hours.

Now you need some chocolate ganache and some candied pecans.  For the pecans, melt 1/2 stick butter with 1/2 cup of brown sugar and a dash of salt, stirring constantly.  Allow to come to a simmer, and cook for one minute.  Stir in 2 cups of chopped pecans until coated, turn out onto wax paper and cool completely.

For the ganache, bring one cup of heavy cream to a simmer.  Pour over 1-1/3 cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips – I used dark chocolate here, since there is so much sweetness elsewhere.  Cover and let stand for 5 minutes of NO MESSIN WITH.  After 5 minutes, stir gently until the ganache comes together.  Don’t panic – at first it will look like lumpy chocolate milk.  Keep stirring, and all of a sudden it will come together and be glossy and smooth.  Spoon the desired amount over the finished cheesecake – I used about 1/2 cup or so, and put the rest in the fridge for ice cream or whatever.  Now, top with those candied pecans, and chill for another 30 minutes to an hour.

This is a super, super rich cheesecake, but with the fun twist of a cookie bottom.  You can call it so-fist-icated since it has the candied pecans on it, if you like!  Pour up a cup of coffee and enjoy.