Monday, January 25, 2010

A Beauty and a Beast all in one

I've been wanting to try it for months. Ever since the day I first laid eyes on the photos and the recipe attached to them I knew we were destined to cross paths. It combined so many of my favorite things: coffee, chocolate, cheesecake. Seriously, how could this possibly be anything less than the most heavenly dessert ever made?

Like I said, I've been waiting months to make it. Now I'm no good at math - its why I married an accountant - but I'm pretty sure that means I saw it first in 2009. The month isn't so important, just the year. Because the dawn of 2010 brought with it one of the most cliche resolutions ever - to lose some weight. And I'm fairly sure that no matter how much praying I do over this sweet thang, well, it just ain't going to get any healthier.


If you will remember, a year or more ago I made THE MARTHA STEWART CHEESECAKE. It was good. I harbor a deep appreciation for the simplicity of a plain cheesecake - no fancy flavors or toppings or ingredients. Just straight up cheesecake. It was complicated to make, but very very good. Making THE MARTHA STEWART CHEESECAKE taught me a valuable lesson in cheesecake-making. Which is: they take over your life. Seriously, I tried to rush through it a bit and wowie zowie that was crazy. When I read over the recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen I knew that I needed to block off some serious time to do this thang right.

So Saturday it was - when Hubby was home to watch the small people and keep their tiny fingers from pilfering away the chocolate as I chopped and chopped and chopped. Side note: there are not a LOT of times when I wish I had a food processor, but I desperately craved one Saturday morning as I chopped by hand 26 ounces of chocolate. In case you are wondering, that is 3 1/2 boxes of baking chocolate. Roughly $10-$12 in chocolate alone. But who's counting? Besides Hubby. He would not tell me how much the alcohol was (small amounts of rum and kahlua), but the ingredients for the Beast totalled well over $30. And now I know why the Cheesecake Factory charges so much for a slice of one of their creations.

I was persistent in reading the recipe through several times, because I didn't want to be surprised by any tricky steps or unexpected water baths like the last time. What I loved about Deb's recipe was the way she would tell me not to panic when the cheesecake came to the very top of the pan, the way she warned me to plan on serving 30 people with it and not 14, the way each step was carefully outlined and explained allowing no room for confusion. I was at peace with the process. I even shrugged my shoulders and threw caution to the wind when the topping (there were 3 layers people) pretty much just poured all down the sides of the pan and didn't so much stay on top because my cheesecake did not fall as promised. Not a big deal. And in the end it wasn't. Lots of layers, lots of mixing and melting and spreading and cooking and chilling. It took a very long time. Many hours. When I put the chocolate ganache decorations on at 10:15 p.m. (I'm so impressed with myself that I made something called "ganache"), well, I was more than ready to be finished with the Beast. I put it in the fridge and closed the door to sleep for a day or so, per Deb's instructions.

The next morning Hubby asked me several times just how much of "that thing" I planned on eating. He was concerned that all my hard work of eating right and exercising would swing the slowly declining needle on the scale in other direction. And he could probably well imagine the nightmare of living with me if it did. So I assured him several times that he had nothing to worry about. But just to be safe Sunday morning I invited some friends over for an evening snack.

We induldged.

It was good. Delicious. A beautiful combination of flavors and textures. I cut the pieces too big because that sucker was REALLY hard to slice...but it was good. Even Hubby, who is not so much a coffee fan, thought it was very good.

But here's the funny part. As good as it was, as much as I longed to make that ridiculous Beast, as lovely as it looked in all its chocolate ganache Beauty, one piece was quite enough. You can be sure those words have never left my mouth when speaking of cheesecake.

I don't know if it is all the exercising, or perhaps the better-eating, or maybe even the fear of not fitting into my fat jeans, but I had that one piece and had no trouble saying I was done for a good long while. It was divine, yes. It was expensive, yes. It was rich and decadent, yes. I loved it, yes. But I was and am done with it. So if you're looking for a way to burn through $40 or so, impress your friends, impress yourself, enjoy a good 1 inch slice of heaven on a plate, and then be done done done with it - make this cheesecake.

Its sort of like having a baby - though you have fond memories of it, you don't necessarily really want to do that again any time REAL soon. Yes, just like that. Only slightly less painful. Though that's negotiable for those of us who do not own a food processor.

1 comment:

Jana said...

Wow, I can't believe you tackled this one! I was intimidated...plus I don't have enough friends to invite over to help eat it. :) Looks great though!