Poire Belle-Helene Revisited


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One of my dad’s favorite was Poire Belle-Helene, or Pear Belle Helene. It is a dessert made of Poached Pears atop vanilla ice-cream, and covered with Chocolate Syrup and toasted almond. It is delicious and really easy to do.

According to Wikepedia, “Poire belle Hélène was created around 1864 by Auguste Escoffier and named after the operetta La belle Hélène by Jacques Offenbach.” The original  Simpler versions replace poached pears with canned pears and crystallized violets with sliced almonds.

I love the combination of vanilla, chocolate and pear. It is a comforting dessert, warm and delicious.

This past Saturday I was in the mood for those combinations, but was also craving cheesecake instead of ice-cream so that is when I decided to combine all those ingredients to make this dessert.

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Ingredients for 12 people: 

Ingredients for the Pear Compote:

  • 3 pears peeled and cored
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/8 tsp of tonka powder, if you can’t find any replace with cardamom
  1. After coring and peeling the pears, slice them in half and cube them very small.
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and when the butter is sizzling, add the diced pears. Mix well.photo 1
  3. Add the sugar, the water and the tonka or cardamom spice.
  4. Bring to a boil and when it is boiling, reduce the heat down and cook until the liquid has reduced to half.
  5. When it is done, remove it from the heat and let it cook completely.

Ingredients for the Chocolate Syrup:

  • 1 cup of chocolate of good quality ( I use Ghiradhelli)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  1. Place the heavy cream into a microwable safe bowl and cook the cream for 2 minutes or until it is really hot. ( you may cook the cream over the stove if you do not want to use the microwave).
  2. Place the chocolate chips into a small bowl. Pour the hot cream over it and let it sit for a few minutes.photo 4
  3. After a few minutes mix the cream and the ganache will be perfect, free of lumps;-)photo 5

Ingredients for 12 individual lingot cheesecakes:

  • ▪ 387.5 gr  or about 14 oz of cream cheese at room temperature ( about 1 1/2 cream cheese bar)
  • 110 gr.  or about 1/2 cup of sugar
  • ▪100 gr.  or about 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 80 gr.  or about 2 medium-sized eggs
  • 13 gr. , or about 3 tsp of egg yolks
  • 13 gr. , or about 3 tsp of corn starch
  • 70 gr. , or about 1/4 cup and 1 tsp of heavy cream
  • a vanilla bean
  1. Place the cream cheese in a kitchen mixer and beat it.
  2. Add the sour cream and mix again.
  3. Add the sugar, egg yolks, eggs and beat it again until the texture is free of lumps.
  4. remove the vanilla seeds from the bean with a sharp knife and mix it with the heavy cream. Add the corn starch and beat until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Pour the mixture into a fleximold of your choice. I chose the lingot tray.
  6. Cook in the oven for 50 minutes at 194.
  7. When the cheesecakes are cooked, let them cool and place them in the fridge to cool for a few hours ( overnight is better).photo 2
  8. The following day, remove the cheesecake one at a time and dip them into the warm chocolate ganache to half.photo 3
  9. Place the cheesecake on individual plates.
  10. Place a few tablespoons of the pear compote on top of the cheesecake and drizzle of bit of the chocolate on the side of the cheesecake for added decoration. Et voila!

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If you wish to serve more pear compote, spoon the pear compote on the plate, place the cheesecake on top of it, drizzle some chocolate over the cheesecake et voila!

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Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Decadent Truffle Chocolate Cheesecake


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My sweet baby Lisa turned 17 on Thursday. Can you believe that this little one is almost an adult. Boo Hoo… Since we were out-of-town, and away from the rest of the family, we decided to take her out to a very nice restaurant on her actual birthday and chose to host her ” birthday” with family yesterday. One of her favorite dessert is the Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake from the Cheesecake factory so my intention was to recreate this wonderful dessert for her since we live many miles away from a Cheesecake restaurant, and we could not get her the actual cake from the famous Cheesecake Factory;

I used the chocolate cheesecake from the Hershey’s cookbook published in February 2010. I had originally intended to follow the recipe described in the cookbook and make a chocolate mousse on top but I ran out of time so we will have to duplicate this recipe at a later time.

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Ingredients for a 10 inch round cheesecake that serves 12-16 people:

Brownie Layer: 

  • 6 tbsp of butter melted
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1/3 cup of special dark Hershey cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

Truffle Cheesecake Layer:

  • 3 packages of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 10 oz  of Ghiradhelli bittersweet chocolate chips
  1. First of all turn the oven on to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and the sugar.
  3. then add the vanilla, the eggs and mix well.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa,  baking powder, and salt and blend.
  5. Place a large round mold onto a perforated sheet, and pour the chocolate mixture into the large round mold.
  6. Cook in a warm oven at 350 for 20 minutes ( when inserting a stick for doneness, it will not come out clean because you want the brownie to be soft and gooey).

While the brownie is cooking, prepare the batter for the cheesecake.

  1. Beat the cream cheese and the sugar until it is smooth and free of lumps.
  2. One at a time, add the eggs and beat after each addition.
  3. Then add the cream, vanilla extract and salt and mix well.
  4. Place the chocolate chips into a microwable bowl and cook for 90 seconds to 2 minutes or until the chocolate is completely melted.
  5. Pour the melted chocolate into the cheesecake mixture and blend well.
  6. Carefully pour the chocolate mixture on top of the brownie.
  7. Place the grande mold on top of a perforated sheet. Place the large round mold inside the grande mold and place it both on the middle rack of the oven.
  8. Pour water into the grande mold for the bath, and cook the cake for 45 minutes in a warm oven of 350.
  9. When the cake is cooked, remove it from the water bath and let it cool at room temperature before placing it into the fridge.
  10. When the cake is cool, melt 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and drizzle the top of the cake with it. Refrigerate the cake for a few hours before eating it.
  11. Take the cake out of the fridge for a few hours before eating it. When serving, place a dollop of fresh whipped cream with it. Et voila!!!

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I will say that the cake was very well appreciated by all. And the cake is so sinful that even though we were 15, and the slices were small, it was just enough. Yum!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Toffee Caramel Cheesecake


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Cheesecakes have always been a curiosity to me. Though I was told that cheesecakes came from France, I never actually ate one there and I never saw one even in the most decadent patisserie or pastry store. In France, however, there are cakes much similar to cheesecakes called Bavarois.  Unlike cheesecake, however, Bavarois are made with heavy cream, sour cream and gelatin and it is never baked. Much like cheesecake, though, they come in many flavors though most of the time they are flavored with fruit puree.

I cannot remember the first time that I ate a cheesescake, but from the minute I ate one, I have loved their texture, and the way they melt away in your mouth…

I just remember that  i have wanted to learn to make them. And for the past 20 years i have tried repeatly to make them. Sometimes successfully, but most of the time unsuccessfully. They may taste great sometimes , but look awful or look okay and only taste average. You may wonder why I have kept trying but I like challenges!!! No, not really, I will not accept failure and will try and try again until I reach my goal;-)

Well, since nowadays i am lactose intolerant and my family is not much of a cheesecake fan, I don’t get to make them that often. In fact, it seems that they only time I venture to make them is when we have a large family reunion. This past Thanksgiving, i was in charge of desserts and since one of the guests was bringing a chocolate ginger cake, a silk pie and a pumpking pie, i was left with bringing something with fruit and something else. I really wanted to bring something that would be in tune with the warm flavor and color  of Thanksgiving, something with warm flavors of fall. How about caramel??

After searching through various recipes book and sites, I finally settled for a recipe found on Epicurious called Toffe Crunch that I altered a bit.

Ingredients for a cheesecake for 10-12 persons:

For the crust:

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  • 1 package of the Belgium Ginger Snap cookies called Biscoff Cor about 7 1/4 ounces)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar

Cheesecake:

  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Caramel topping

  • 1  cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

For Decoration:

  • 10 heath candy broken in pieces.

First you will want to prepare the crust for the cheesecake. In a chopper, place the cookies, the soft butter and the sugar and pulse a few times to make a “powdery” mix. Empty this mixture into the bottom of the large round mold, and with your fingers press the cookie mixture flat. Cook in a warm oven for 10 minutes. Set aside.

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While the crust is cooking, prepare the cheesecake. In a large bowl of a kitchen mixer, beat the sugar and the butter until it becomes creamy. Then add the cream cheese and beat well until the mixture is smooth. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each egg. Add 1 tbsp of vanilla extract and mix well. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the large mold on top the crust. Shake the mold a bit from side to side to even out the the cheesecake.

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Place a grande mold on top a medium perforated and place the large round mold inside the grande mold. PLace the two into the oven. With a pouring cup, pour water into the grande mold to almost the top. This will be the water bath for the cheesecake. Cook the cheesecake for 40 minutes at 350. When the cheesecake has baked, let it rest for several hours ( 2 hours minimum and or overnight).

photoMy cheesecake did not crack! and it did not sink in the middle. It was perfect. I never ever made a cheesecake that was that perfect  before;-) I was so happy;-)
For caramel topping:
Put 1 cup of sugar into a large saucepan and cook the sugar over medium heat or until the sugar is dissolving. When the sugar is “becoming caramel” and is starting to bubble on the sides, start stirring the sugar to even out the caramel. Cook a little longer until all the sugar has become a light amber caramel. Be careful not to over cook. It will turn black in a minute if you do not watch. Remove the pan from the stove and let it cool for a minute or two. Meanwhile warm up the cream in the microwave for 2 minutes. Carefully pour the hot cream into the caramel while stirring virgorously. Be careful! It will bubble. Place the saucepan back onto the stove on medium temperature and continue stirring until the sugar has completly melted into the cream.

When the cheesecake has cooled, press the sides of the round mold down, and slide a plate under the cheesecake to remove the cake from the round mold. Then pour the caramel onto the cheesecake, and decorate the cake by sprinkling toffee crumble all around the cake top as shown below. Place back into the fridge to cool, and to let the caramel set.

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Make sure to let the cake come to ambiant temperature before cutting and eating;-)

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Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

White Chocolate and Pumpkin Cheesecake


I love Pumpkin soup, but can’t seem to acquire a good appreciation of the Pumpkin pie. I don’t know what makes it unsavoury to me, maybe it is the combination of pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon… I am not sure. Since I was in charge of the desserts and  did not want to brush aside the traditions, I still wanted to offer a Pumpkin dessert. I had already made Pecan pies and A Cranberry and Pear Torte, so I wanted to go another route and settled for a recipe that I found in Holidays Baking of the Fine Cooking Magazine in store right now. Everything tastes better with chocolate so I added some to the recipe along with some other minor changes. Here it is:

Ingredients for 12 mini cheesecakes ( muffin size): 2 packages of cream cheese at room temperature, 20o gr. of melted white chocolate, 2/3 cup of sugar, 2 tbsp of vanilla extract, 2 large eggs, 1/3 cup of canned pupkin, 2 1/4 tsp of all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of ginger, 1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg.

Materials; silpat, perforated sheet, scalloped muffin tray.

In a the bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese and beat it on medium high until it becomes smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and the vanilla and beat again until it is well mixed. Add the melted chocolate and beat at medium low until it is well incorporated and there are no lumps. Then add the eggs, one at a time and best them a bit  just enough to mix them in. (Do not overbeat, or the cheesecake will fluff up and crack). Place the scalloped cupcake tray on a perforated sheet and spoon about 2 tbsp of this batter in each cupcake. You shoud have 1/3 of the batter left. Add the pumpkin, the nutmeg, cinnamon, flour and ginger and stir well. Spoon about 1 tbsp of this batter in each cupcake tray on top of the vanilla/ chocolate batter. With the back of a spoon, dig down into the batter and make swirls. Bake in a warm oven for 15 minutes at a temperature of 300. When they are cooked ( the center of the cupacake should barely juggle), remove the cupcake tray from the oven and let the cheesecakes cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours up to 3 days. Before serving, make the caramel, and drizzle it on top of the cheesecake.

Caramel: 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp of fresh lemon juice.

In a small saucepan, place the sugar and the lemon juice and cook over medium-high until the sugar is melting and is becoming a golden color. Stir gently to prevent the sugar from burning in isolated spots. You want to cook the caramel until it becomes a light caramel color ( amber). Remove it from the stove and with a spoon, drizzle the caramel over the cupcakes and drizzle the rest of the caramel over a silpat making circles that you will use as decorations.

To serve, drizzle some caramel on each plate, place a cheesecake on top of the caramel, place a dollop of whipped cream and place a caramel decoration on the cheesecake. Et voila!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!