Saturday, January 8, 2011

Adult Hot Chocolate...and My Very First Cheesecake Creation!

I don't think I have ever tasted a beverage quite like this one before now. We tried this Adult Hot Chocolate recipe from my wonderful Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook on Christmas Day, and I have to say it knocked our socks right off. It's craaazy good.

Since it is "adult," you can be sure that this recipe calls for some liquor. The Baked guys used amaretto, but we went with creme de menthe because it just seemed Christmas-y to us (plus, it was what we had!). Then, you chop up 7 oz. of chocolate (some milk, but mostly dark) and add enough boiling water to melt it. Boil some milk, heavy cream, and a touch of maple syrup, then add the melted chocolate and the liquor. Garnish with whipped cream if you like, and you are ready for the ultimate chocolate experience!

At first sip, you might actually think you are drinking pure, liquid chocolate. I mean, it is just that potent. Then, as you sip again, you can taste the creme de menthe, present but not hardly overpowering. This hot chocolate is definitely not for the faint of heart, and only the most serious of chocolate lovers should try it. After about 5 sips, I had about reached my limit, and I can usually overdose on chocolate with the best of them. It's just so rich. That said, it sure made the perfect holiday beverage, because it was just 100% indulgence. Yum.

Alongside this, I served a white chocolate cranberry cheesecake that I kinda invented myself. I posted about those cloned Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars a couple weeks back, and I had wanted to tinker with those bars a bit. Since we love those bars so much and we also adore cheesecake, I thought why not make a Cranberry Bliss Cheesecake? I have to say, I kinda love this idea. I made a shortbread cookie recipe, studded with dried cranberries and small chunks of white chocolate, and ground it to crumbs in my food processor. I pressed these crumbs down into my springform pan to form the crust. Then, I made a cheesecake layer that contained fresh lemon zest, ground ginger, melted white chocolate, and dried cranberries. To finish it all off, I garnished the cheesecake with more dried cranberries, and a drizzle of melted white chocolate. It was sooo good, and I am not just saying that because I created it myself! Everyone that tried it agreed that it was a winner. I would love for this cheesecake to become a new Christmas tradition for us!

Since my cheesecake recipe is something that I just had fun playing around with, I am not going to post the full, detailed instructions here. But if you email me, I'd be happy to share what I did, step-by-step! And here is the Adult Hot Chocolate, posted below. You were warned.

Adult Hot Chocolate
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
makes 2 (very generous) servings

2 oz. good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 oz. good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. creme de menthe liquor
Whipped cream, optional

1. Put the chocolates in a small heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate, and make sure most of the chocolate is submerged. Let the chocolate sit for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the milk, cream, and maple syrup just to a simmer. Pour the chocolate mixture into the milk mixture and whisk until combined.

3. Turn the heat up to medium and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is just about to boil. Add the creme de menthe, stir one more time, and ladle into mugs. Top with whipped cream if desired, and serve immediately.

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