A very quick post this time because I’ve exciting news to share and also wanted to share some yummy cheesecake bars that I had made.
First, thanks to a heads up from ZY from the Singapore Homebakers facebook group, I got to know of the Savour Bake Off competition. Call it coincidence or plain luck, because I had only recently joined the group and I had already bought tickets to Savour, not knowing that there was such a competition. I had splurged on the very expensive tickets to Savour because I was pretty keen to attend some of the masterclasses – macarons and bread making anyone? =] and I wanted to attend a food fair of gourmet standards, which is what the organizers have promised. So, I was very excited to know of the baking competition, because I feel that my baking skills and techniques have come to a point where I can be able to effectively problem solve and intuitively identify what is wrong/right with my baking and perhaps to handle the time pressures of a baking competition. So anyway, I spent a really long time trying to think up of something impressive, which was no easy task because I wanted to do a plated dessert and this is the first time I’ve ever done something like this!
I actually trawled through the Masterchef websites (Australia and UK mainly) to get ideas of what one can make within a short span of time (90 minutes!) and very methodically crossed out things like macarons, mousse cakes, entremets, and anything that required me to beat egg whites or whipped cream. As sure of my skills that I am, I know that I have a tendency to overbeat egg whites and in a very foreign and hostile environment with new equipment, I definitely did not relish failing. I eventually settled for making tarts, even though I kind of knew that my tart making skills were not fantastic. If you look closely at the photographs below, you will realize how imperfect the tart shells are, even on the side. The top of the crust is even worse actually =X
So after a whole week of ruminating on what to make, I eventually decided on a pistachio-chocolate-passionfruit tart based on what had inspired me earlier, and I decided to add in some strawberry gelee and passionfruit curd because I had made those recently and thought they tasted fantastic hehe. I very quickly decided that my theme would be a garden, and I wanted ‘soil’ and dirt, but I guess that was not to be – the crumble eventually morphed itself into a cobbled footpath and the strawberry gelee which was supposed to be a flower turned into the centre of a flower or butterfly and the passionfruit curd which was supposed to be a quenelle if it was sturdy enough or a smear if it wasn’t became flower petals or butterfly wings. Lol. It was fun creating a dessert though, and I foresee myself doing more of these in the near future, because it is quite exciting to create individual components of a dessert with different flavours and watch everything come together on a plate. I also had fun photographing the end result, because it turned out quite photogenic, although I had to rush because I was only given 2 days to bake and photograph the dessert and because I had to work late, I had to get up early to prepare the dessert and catch the morning light! As you can see, I took the dessert from several angles, but eventually decided on the photo below because I thought it hid the flaws of the tart nicely (unlike the photo above where you can see the melty chocolate and not so neat pistachios) and showcased the rest of the tart beautifully.
There are 10 semi-finalists for the competition, and I’m quite keen to know if there’s any of you readers or bloggers who similarly got into the competition? I have to admit that when I saw the entries I was a little deflated because passionfruit and chocolate was a combination used by a couple of others! And there was a particular entremet cake which made use of praline and chocolate mousse as well as passionfruit, which was very similar to what I had earlier planned to make! Anyway, like what some of my friends have said, it is presently a popularity contest, because the entries with the most votes will get through to the finals, and I honestly hope that I’m one of the final few because then I’ll be THAT MUCH closer to the grand prize, which is a trip to PARIS! I mean, I had originally planned to go to Paris in December myself, but a free trip wouldn’t hurt, and besides, it’s not just free, it will be a gourmet trip! As such, I’m calling out to all you readers – please, if you have a facebook account, please do vote for me over at the Savour facebook page. You can click on THIS LINK to directly access the app. My entry is entitled “The Garden: Chocolate Pistachio Tart with Passionfruit & Strawberries” and it’s on the extreme right of the second row. I’m pretty sure from the photos you see in this entry that you won’t miss it! SO please do help me out guys! You can vote from anywhere in the world, and voting ends 23 March at 2359h! The photo above is the photo you will see on the page! THANKS 😀
Now back to the cookie dough cheesecake bars I’ve been wanting to share.
I made these some time ago when I bought a mega block of cream cheese and had to find ways and means to finish it. I got this recipe from Jess, who adapted it from Rima. The original recipe comes from The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook. Do try these out, especially if you have extra cream cheese to spare and you want something other than your usual plain cheesecake. You don’t necessarily have to use the cookie dough recipe here – you can swap it for any of your preferred cookie dough recipes and it will still work fine! It is very simple to make, though there are quite a few major steps, and do use lots of chocolate chips! I’m thinking I’ll add in some nuts the next time 😉
- 130g digestive biscuits, crushed
- 70g unsalted butter, melted
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:
- 70g salted butter, room temperature
- 55g light brown sugar
- 30g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 85g all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chocolate chips (about 100g)
- 280g cream cheese, room temperature
- 55g granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper on all sides or use a springform pan.
- For the crust, melt the unsalted butter and add in the crushed digestive biscuits. I used Mcvities. Make sure all the biscuit crumbs are moistened with the melted butter and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake the mixture for about 6 minutes and remove. Place on a cooling rack. Do not turn your oven off.
- In the meantime, prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Mix in the flour on low speed, and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips. Set aside. You can prepare this a day ahead if you wish.
- For the cheesecake filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla on low speed just until incorporated.
- To bake: Pour the cheesecake batter onto the cooled crust. Flatten the cookie dough into flat circles (or any rough flat shapes) and distribute the cookie dough evenly on top of the cheesecake batter. It will sink a little. Bake the pan for about 30 minutes, or until the cookie dough turns a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely, for at least 30 minutes. The bars are best sliced cold, so store in the refrigerator once it's fully cooled and slice before serving.
Texture: I personally prefer a high crust to cheesecake ratio. Although I have increased the proportions slightly, I would definitely like more crust! Will double the crust recipe the next time!
Storage: These cheesecake bars store very well in the fridge. Do not keep them at room temperature for more than a day!
Would I make this again?: Definitely! These can be very easily modified by substituing the cookie dough and the cheesecake filling!