Pumpkin Ginger Cake with Pumpkin Cheesecake Topping

Here’s a cross between a cake and cheesecake. The base is a moist soft pumpkin cake with added candied ginger for a little heat. The topping is a thin layer of creamy pumpkin cheesecake. The cake is baked just until a cake tester comes out clean, but not until the cake picks up color. Then it’s cooled briefly while the cheesecake batter is mixed. The latter is baked at reduced oven temperature just until softly set. The result is a perfect cheesecake texture and moist and tender cake interior.

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Vanilla Cheesecake Mint White Chocolate Mousse and Strawberry Gelée Bites

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge, hosted by Jenny from JennyBakes, was Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake. My sincere thank you to Jenny not just for hosting, but also for not limiting us with rules and restrictions, for providing with an opportunity to create a dessert suiting everyone’s taste. We were free to choose any flavor combination as well as presentation options.

I didn’t change the original cheesecake recipe, except for omitting a graham crust (I’m not very fond of it, to be honest) and adding a tablespoon of flour to the batter (an old habit, couldn’t help myself). I scaled the recipe down, but baked the cheesecake in a required 9-inch pan, so the cake was not too tall and could be easily cut into small rounds. These cheesecake cut-outs were fit inside crispy caramelized phyllo tubes (cylinders) baked earlier. Sticky cheesecake bottoms were then dipped into coarsely ground pistachios creating some sort of a crust and preventing the dessert from adhering to a serving platter. The mint infused white chocolate mousse was piped over the cheesecake and, after the mousse was set, the strawberry gelée, cut into small cubes, was piled over the mousse layer. A little bit more of the pistachios and fresh mint leaves for garnish completed the picture.

They are easy to handle, small-portioned, one-bite (ok, maybe two-bites for some of us, always struggling with those huge sushi rolls as I am) dessert which I found satisfying enough and sufficient for serving one per person (after a good meal).

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Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake with Nib Brittle and Balsamic Strawberries

I don’t know what to say to people who tell me that this cake is better than sex. I guess, it’s entirely depends on a personal experience. But I do know for sure the cheesecake is quite good. I prefer my cheesecakes crustless (there… I said it). I like something crunchy to be served on a side. In this case, literally. The brittle is the last minute finishing touch. If you are not serving the cake to a crowd and not certain that the cake will be eaten all at once, don’t press the brittle into the sides since it will melt fairly quickly. Instead, offer the brittle broken into large shards as an accompaniment. Sure, if you have nothing against a cheesecake crust, you can make a chocolate crumb one (you can see Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake for instruction).

We are lucky to have fresh strawberries here all year-round. But if you want to get the decent ones you will have to pay. As for the balsamic I advise you to use something better than 5 bucks-per-bottle from the closest supermarket. It’s probably a good time to reach for that onion-shaped bottle of the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena.

Don’t get discouraged by all this foodie-snobby stuff. The cake will be awesome served with strawberry or raspberry sauce, and you can use frozen berries for this purpose.

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White Chocolate and Brie Cheesecake with Fleur de Sel and Hazelnut Brittle

White Chocolate and Brie Cheesecake with Fleur de Sel and Hazelnut Brittle

Following the French and white chocolate idea introduced earlier I’m offering this cheesecake. No, this cake is not as sweet as the previous one. The white chocolate here doesn’t dominate, it leaves you wonder and beg for more.

The cake is so simple and so chic! This is a European marvel at its best. You can serve it with fresh berries or raspberry coulis. And that’s exactly what the author (Fran Bigelow) suggested. Or, if you are not pressed for time, you can make the Fleur de Sel Hazelnut brittle to decorate the cake or serve alongside. I found them to be the perfect match for the cake. Extra time spent in the kitchen will certainly be highly appreciated at the end of your dinner, I promise. If you decide to make the cookies, make sure you have enough of them to offer separately, despite your plated presentation. Everybody always looks for more to indulge.

And the last but not least. Please, don’t ruin it by a graham crust, or any crust…

Adapted from Fran Bigelow’s “Pure Chocolate”

White Chocolate and Brie Cheesecake with Fleur de Sel and Hazelnut Brittle Slice

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Orange Cheesecake with Candied Kumquats

Orange Cheesecake with Candied Kumquats

I love kumquats. I eat them with peel and seeds. Unfortunately, they are seasonal, so, it makes sense to enjoy them while they last. This cheesecake presents the kumquats in a nice, elegant way. Although you can eat the kumquats with the seeds, you will have to seed them for this recipe. The task is rather time consuming than difficult. If you stretch the preparation over two days you certainly won’t be tired at all.

The cheesecake itself is classic, dense and creamy.

I found the recipe in one of the issues of “Bon Appétit”. And baked the cake for my husband’s birthday. He isn’t questioning the necessity of the magazine subscription anymore…

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Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

Chocolate Caramel Cheescake

There is enough batter to make one 9-inch round cheesecake. Since I was serving it on Valentine’s Day, I used small individual heart-shaped molds to suit the occasion. This is a great dessert to be served on such a special day. But it would be a shame to wait till the next February – the cheesecake is so delicious it will be appreciated any time. The caramel gives the chocolate cheesecake a new dimension.

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