Simple words typed out on a blank screen and beautifully colored with rich vocabulary won't be able to describe how much I've missed blogging.
I fractured my arm in November and had to deal with the incompetence of some doctors which winded me up in two different casts for 6 slow weeks. Boy, that was a tough one. I wouldn't say I'm an impatient person but having to wrap my cast in a plastic bag before every shower I took was not my cup of tea. I had to quit basketball, badminton and the gym and worst of all: I had no interest in baking because that would just take much longer than usual while using one arm.
|Some of the stuff friends drew on my cast :)|
But of course, I tried my best to stick to the positive side of everything. I went on a university trip to Istanbul (yay, I love Turkey!). I thought my fracture would stop me from having a good time but it didn't; other than taking forever to get a sleeve through my arm, it was one of my most memorable trips where I made lots of new friends and strengthened bonds with some old friends. Later that November, I took part in the 3rd BakeFest DXB where I challenged myself to bake up batches of 3 different menu items to sell. With the help of my wonderful mother, I managed to bake an impressive amount of goodies. I even got lots of help at BakeFest and made a humble profit (much love goes out to Hana Younes, Wajiha Said and Devina Divecha for everything they kindly did for me that day. You girls were amazing!). I guess the most thing that kept me preoccupied was university. I'm on my final year now so my courses are a lot more demanding than before. Projects started piling up and exams were right around the corner with every passing week. Thankfully all that hard work and dedication paid off at the end; I was very happy with my grades! Unfortunately, it meant I had to neglect Red Panda Bakes a lot, I guess you can't have it all.
I've been baking a lot of cake lately. Partially because I've been feeling lazy after long days at university and also because, well, I love cake. But I've been getting a lot of demands from my family at home [read: from my mother] to bake a cheesecake. But I wanted to try something new. So I decided I just had to give the chocolate swirl cheesecake a go. I've been thinking about making it for the longest time and never got around to trying it out. So here it is in all its glory!
The thing I love the most about cheesecake is that making the crust makes me feel like I'm playing in the sand at the beach. The crushed biscuits stick to your fingers almost the same way damp sand does.
Making the cheesecake filling is part therapeutic and part gluttony. The therapeutic part comes from the beauty of watching all the creamy ingredients come together and smelling the burst of lemon zest once it's added. The glutton is... Me. I love licking what's left over from the filling off the spatula and the inside of the bowl. So if I share that with you then take that as a sign of true love. It's pretty serious.
I can safely say this was just as easy as making a plain cheesecake. Completely fuss free! I made these in mini cheesecake pans but you can definitely make this in a normal spring-form pan too!
Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake adapted from Tyler Florence's Ultimate Cheesecake
What You'll Need:
2 cups (200g) finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (100 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound (450 g) cream cheese, softened
1 cup (180 g) sugar
1 pint (450g) sour cream (I usually put 4 heaped tablespoons)
1 lemon, zested
1 dash vanilla extract
100g of chocolate buttons or any chocolate that can be used for melting
The How To:
For the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the crust with a fork until they are evenly moistened.
- Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch spring-form pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
For the Filling:
- In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps.
- Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined.
- Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not over beaten.
- Scoop out 3-4 tablespoons of the batter into the now cooled melted chocolate. Mix it together to get a chocolate batter.
- Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan. Spoon the chocolate batter on top of the filling; try to put a dollop of chocolate batter a bit further away from each other.
- With a spatula or blunt knife, swirl the chocolate batter into the creamy batter creating a swirl-y effect. Don't fuss over this bit, it's all going to taste great in the end!
- Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook.
- Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim.
- Unmold and transfer to a cake plate.