Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Cake: chocolate-orange cheesecake

Hello world!  Did you miss me?  I sure missed you :) A great many things have been going on in my life during the last months (very exciting times!) and I’m afraid I neglected the blog a little bit because of all this excitement…  More than a little bit actually.  In fact so much that I even forgot to celebrate its first anniversary…  That's right, my dear people, the blog turned one!  And as every proud mother I'm thinking to myself "wow, they grow up so fast...".  

Bottom line is: it’s high time to celebrate, so here we are: starting the 2014 blogging year with a birthday cake!

NOT a traditional layered birthday cake though!  To tell you the truth I hate traditional birthday cakes.  I really dislike the soft sponge cake, made unappetizingly soggy by means of some kind of suspicious liquid.  Equally, I am not a fan of butter cream fillings, because they usually are tasteless and remind me of nothing else than butter itself.  To be honest, I’m even not a huge fan of whipped cream (many of you might be frowning now).  Yep, you heard me.  

Instead, I like my cakes dense, solid, heavy and rich.  None of that fluffy-soggy-airy stuff.  That’s why I prepared a properly rich chocolate orange cheesecake – a much worthier birthday cake in my book.

The divine combination of chocolate and orange flavors is something I only recently discovered.  I would have never guessed they go so well together!  I heard of the match before, but it always seemed a bit weird to me, if anything.  Yet once I tried it - I was sold.  And determined to convince everybody else to try out this great combination.  

Somehow the vibrant, citrussy orange zest sparkles (figuratively and literally) in the deep smoothness and earthiness of dark chocolate.  It gives a surprising, yet fantastic twist to chocolate, and brings out qualities you would have never associated with it.  Zest is very powerful, and adds much more flavor than juice.  It's so fine, that you don't taste its texture - a great advantage to me, as I wouldn't like to chew on bits of orange peel while eating a cheesecake.  Despite zest being so fine - or maybe because of it - it conquers the entire cake with its sweet and fresh flavor.

This cheesecake perfectly captures the happy marriage of chocolate and orange.  It is quite heavy, rich and very smooth.  Almost like a cheesecake ganache.  A generous piece can satisfy even the most fervent chocoholic.  The digestive-almond crust works as a perfect background - it does not overpower the chocolate/orange flavor, but just gives a nice crunchy variation in texture, and adds a roasted, nutty aftertaste.  I highly recommend using dark chocolate here, because it will deepen the flavor and work better with the orange.  If you want to make the cheesecake a bit lighter and less dense, try replacing half of the cream cheese with mascarpone.

I waited long before trying out this recipe - do not make the same mistake.  Just imagine sliding your fork into this dense, smooth texture and experiencing the intense, zesty richness of every divine bite...  Need I say more...?

Recipe adapted from Dorotus’ blog.


                180 g dark chocolate digestives
                60 g almonds
                80 g butter (melted)
                600 g cream cheese (room temperature)
                3 eggs (room temperature)
                180 g dark chocolate
                zest of 2 oranges
                150 ml cream (room temperature)
                140 g of brown sugar
                small shot of Cointreau (30 ml)

                Crush the biscuits in a food processor, or by hand (you can put them in a ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin).  Chop the almonds finely and roast in a dry pan, until golden brown.  Add to the digestives, then add the melted butter.  Distribute evenly on the bottom of a round baking tray (lined with parchment paper and 24 cm in diameter), and push down with your fingers or the bag of a spoon.  Let cool in the fridge.
                Preheat the over to 160°C.
                Melt the chocolate au bain-marie (glass bowl over a pot with boiling water).  Let cool down a bit.
               Mix the cream cheese, egg, sugar and cream until smooth.  Add the Cointreau and cooled down chocolate, and mix again (don’t over-mix).
                Pour mixture over cooled biscuit bottom. Bake for around 90 minutes.  Let cool and put in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Bon appetit!

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