Happy Birthday to Me!

Another new year, another promise to myself that I will actually post consistently. As the holidays usually are, this season was a bit hectic, though on the plus side I managed to actually do all of the things I had wanted to get done, and also got my gifts taken care of pretty early. I think I managed to actually enjoy more of the holiday season in doing so – something I haven’t really managed to do in a few years. It always seems to go by too quickly, and it doesn’t feel like a proper holiday season like it used to when I was a kid. There’s just something about being an adult that is rather draining.

While the new year is here, I have not made any resolutions. Well, not formally. I have hopes. I hope that this new year brings opportunities to change up my work situation, in the hopes that I can do something that allows me more energy for my own life. If those opportunities present themselves, I have promised myself I will seize them. Though I have enjoyed working in my position and in this industry, I’m the type of person who will invest much of herself into it, and it has gotten to the point where that doesn’t pay off. So here’s to a new year full of excitement.

In other news, my birthday has also come, and with it a new cake. I hadn’t really given much thought to what I would make myself this year when Mikal decided to send me an image of a really awesome-looking cake. It was absolutely beautiful, and topped with Rocher, which I am rather fond of. And by rather fond of, I mean I ate half of a 24-pack the first day I had them. Luckily I only needed a dozen for the cake.

I was a bit apprehensive as the cake turned out to be a chocolate cheesecake. Aside from the one attempt I made at pumpkin cheesecake last fall, I generally only go for naked cheesecake. None of this fruit topping BS. Fruit and cheese….weird. I don’t think I would mind the flavors together, but the texture differences just don’t quite go in my mouth. WEIRD.

Anyway, Mikal wouldn’t let me not make the chocolate cheesecake, so I did it. Turned out pretty well, though a bit more moist than I have generally had my cheesecakes. I can’t tell if it was because I had to substitute Nutella for the hazelnut butter, or perhaps it’s just supposed to be that way.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake with Ferrero Rocher

from Spiced Up Baking

2 cups flour
160g butter at room temperature (approx. 1 1/3 cups)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

800g cream cheese (four packs will give a bit more than this)
4 large eggs
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups sour cream
3/4 cups hazelnut butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate (I used a mix of dark & milk Dove chocolates)
80g butter at room temperature
2 tbsp heavy cream

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
3 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp heavy cream

Ferrero Rocher – 8-12 pieces

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Combine all ingredients in an electric mixer and mix at low speed for 5 minutes, until well-blended. Press into a 12″ springform pan, and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool while preparing the filling.

Cut the cream cheese into 1″ cubes and place them in electric mixer fitted with flat beater blade. Combine cheese and sugar until well-blended, about 2 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, ensuring each is well-blended before adding the next.

Add sour cream and mix for two minutes. Add hazelnut butter and mix for two minutes. Add vanilla extract and mix for two minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine cocoa powder, flour, and salt. Add dry ingredients 1 tbsp at a time to the wet ingredients, ensuring that the mixture is fully incorporated before adding the next tbsp. After last tbsp, continue mixing until well-incorporated.

Pour the filling into the pan with the cooling crust. Bake at 325°F for 50-60 minutes, until the top is no longer sticky, but the cheesecake still jiggles. (I had to look up what it was supposed to look like on YouTube, because it looked like it was just too under-done with all the jigglies. According to the videos I looked at, it was perfectly fine.)

Allow to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes while you prepare the ganache.

In a small saucepan, heat all ingredients together over low heat, whisking until smooth.

Reserve 3 tbsp of the ganache mixture, and pour the rest over the cheesecake mixture after removing the sides of the springform pan. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. (I would put it in the fridge – that way the coating sets nicely before adding the drizzle. Mine was still rather warm, so the drizzle integrated into the ganache and just made vague lines.)

Drizzle the remaining ganache mixture over the cake in zig-zags or whatever pattern you choose.

Icing & Decoration
In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, combine powdered sugar and cocoa powder at low speed. Add butter and mix at low speed for 3 minutes. Add vanilla mixture and mix for a few minutes. Add heavy cream in tsp increments until you achieve the desired icing consistency. (My butter was at room temp, but the icing just wasn’t creaming up the way it was supposed to. The original recipe does not call for the heavy cream, but I found it quite useful to make it properly icing-ish.)

Spoon the icing into a piping bag outfitted with a star-shaped nozzle, and pipe mounds in even increments around the edge of the cake – you want them large enough to pillow the Rocher, but you don’t want it to be so big that your cheesecake slices are too large. Unwrap the Rocher and place atop the icing mounds.

Allow cake to set for 6+hours in the fridge before serving.

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