Grimm’s Dairy Tales

This week I’ve been working on a freelance piece about avoiding surface cracks in cheesecakes. Blessedly, the life of a food writer requires testing subject matter at home. And while this prospect seemed very appealing at the start, heaps of batter and billions of calories later have left me feeling a bit worse off than when I started. This same fate befalls anyone who reads “Grimm’s Fairy Tales.” Those who are looking for a breezy encounter (as these tales are portrayed in Disney films) end up feeling very weighed down.

Like the tales of these Brothers Grimm, cheesecake – despite its unfailing heaviness – has endured the test of time. But by portioning into these individual ramekins, you will serve up something closer to the Disney versions – sweet, light, and always a happy ending.

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(Pumpkin Cheesecake Terrines)

Crust:

3 ounces chocolate graham crackers

4 tbsp. salted butter, melted

Instruction:

1. Pulse graham crackers in food processor until fine crumbs. Remove blade and add melted butter, mixing until mixture has “wet sand” consistency.

2. Pack even amount of mixture into ramekins, pressing down with fingers to make an even and compact layer.

3. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Cheesecake filling:

12 oz. cream cheese

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 whole eggs and 1 additional yolk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream

Instruction:

*Note: All ingredients should be brought to room temperature before beginning!

1. In standing mixer, beat cream cheese, gradually adding in sugar. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and salt, and eggs (all gradually, and at medium-low speed). Finally, add heavy cream and beat until mixture is completely smooth. (You may need to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a silicon spatula.)

2. Pour mixture evenly into ramekins with cooled crust. Create water bath by placing ramekins in roasting pan and pouring boiling water halfway up the sides.

3. Bake for about 45 minutes at 325 degrees – centers should still wobble slightly. Pull out of the oven and leave in water bath on stovetop for about 45 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool for another 45 minutes. Finally, transfer ramekins to refrigerator to chill for about two hours. (At this point, you can optionally add your mousse layer – see below.)

(Optional)

Bailey’s cream cheese mousse:

8 oz. cream cheese

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 packet gelatin

1/4 cup water

1/4 Bailey’s

Instruction:

1. Whisk together sugar, salt, and gelatin. Bring water and Bailey’s to a boil and pour immediately over dry ingredients, whisking until dissolved.

2. In standing mixer, beat cream cheese and pumpkin puree. Until smooth. Gradually add gelatin mixture in on medium-low speed. Pour over cheesecake right before the refrigeration phase. Chill cheesecake ramekins for several hours, allowing gelatin to solidify.

Enjoy individual pumpkin cheesecakes with Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!

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A Sweet Bar Named Desire

Summer is winding down, and though the evenings are getting cooler, mid-day outdoors still tends to coat me in a sheen of sweat. Because of central air conditioning, August is a much more pleasant month than it used to be, and I am glad to spend the days baking treats inside instead of baking my pale skin outside.

Tennessee Williams sets the backdrop for A Streetcar Named Desire as a Louisiana summer in the 1940s. The air is heavy and dense, in many manners of speaking. Stella knows that her husband Stanley is sinful but can’t seem to get enough of him. And while I agree that there are few things yummier than a young, pouty Marlon Brando – I may have found one of them to be peanut butter cheesecake bars. The combination of cream cheese, graham cracker crust, peanut butter and chocolate chip may even drive you crazy.

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Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars:

12 oz cream cheese

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup brown sugar

pinch of salt

1 cup chocolate chips

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup brown sugar

6 tbsp melted butter (unsalted)

Instruction:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make graham cracker crust by combining graham cracker, brown sugar, and butter in food processor. Press to make even layer on bottom of greased baking pan. Bake in oven for five minutes, allow to cool on stovetop while making the cheesecake batter.

3. In medium bowl, combine cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar, salt, and egg using electric mixer. Add milk a bit at a time, incorporating well into the batter. Fold in chocolate chips with spatula.

4. Pour cheesecake batter over cooled graham cracker crust. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack (still in baking pan) for an hour, then chill in refrigerator for two hours. Remove from baking pan and cut into bars.

5. (Optional:) Sprinkle with cocoa powder and/or powdered sugar.

Enjoy your peanut butter cheesecake bars with A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, and check in at warandpeach.wordpress.com for future recipes and book reviews!