By Carolyne

Espresso Cheesecake (or Tiramisu cheesecake)

Filling:
  • 9 – 130 gram (4.5 oz) heat sealed packaged logs of Celebrity label goat cream cheese
  • 5 whole eggs plus 2 yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ½ cup full fat whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons of cold extra strong espresso coffee
  • 1 tablespoon of Asbach Uralt brandy
Basic pastry:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour

With a pastry cutter, work together the butter and sugar and egg yolks. Add flour until the mixture reaches the consistency of coarse cornmeal.

Pat two-thirds of the mixture with your hand into the bottom of 30 cm ungreased spring form pan and bake in a preheated 400 F oven until just golden (not brown) – about seven minutes. You will have to watch this closely the first few times until you see how the mixture reacts to your oven.

Remove and let it cool until you can touch the metal pan. (I stick the pan in freezer for a few minutes).

With the remaining pastry, pat to form the side crust nearly to the top edge of the pan, overlapping slightly the cooked pastry. The side pastry will bake with the filling.

Into a large mixing bowl, put five packages of Celebrity label Canadian goat cream cheese, which is at room temperature and has been broken in several pieces each to take the strain off your mixer motor.

Add the eggs and extra yolks and beat until the mixture is creamy, increasing speed as the mixture allows. Add sugar, vanilla, salt and flour and continue beating, starting on low speed and increasing speed as flour is mixed into the batter.

Now add liquid cream and the espresso coffee along with the brandy and beat a further five minutes. After adding a full cup of grated Sartori BellaVitano Espresso cheese, mix on low speed only until the grated cheese is just incorporated.

Turn it into the waiting pastry shell and bake for 15 minutes at 400 F, then turn the oven down to 325 F and continue baking for about one hour, longer if necessary. Bake on the bottom rack of your oven. This cake is very dense, not unlike a fruitcake, and is baked on the bottom rack.

Check the centre by inserting a sharp knife.  When the knife comes out clean, the cake is ready to remove from the oven. When the pan is cool enough to touch, you will see that the pastry has a tiny air space between the pastry and the pan. Slide a sharp off-centre spatula around the pan in the air space to disconnect any tiny pieces of pastry that might be stuck. Release the spring form pan lock and gently lift the ring off the cheesecake. Leave the cake on the pan base.

If you like, decorate with the remaining whipping cream that has been whipped quite stiff, with three tablespoons of icing sugar, a drizzle of brandy, a teaspoon of figgy jus from your black mission fig marinating jar if you have it, and ½ teaspoon vanilla.

Put the stiff whipped cream into a forcing bag and squirt an edge all around the cake.  If you want to make your cheesecake look even more elegant, decorate the top with the cream and a few shards of Sartori BellaVitano Espresso cheese, in the centre, along with thin shards of white chocolate. Or sprinkle with grated rock-hard white chocolate. Top with a few paper-thin rinds from your citrus candied peel pantry sugar jar.

I hope you enjoy making this wonderful recipe as much as I do. You are sure to receive many compliments from your family and friends.  (You may even have to hide the cake – that is, if there is any left).

If you are appointed to bring dessert to a pot luck dinner, pot luck will never be the same. Note this recipe makes a very large cheesecake and it will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for a few days. It “sets up” beautifully. Serve in small wedges because it is beyond rich, but very wonderful.

Alternate: Fruit-enhanced cheesecake, a light, enjoyable treat that is a keeper for sure.

Prepare pastry. Prepare cheese filling. Put two cups of the cheese mixture onto the baked pastry in the spring form pan.

Then add a fresh firm fruit mix. Here’s how to make the fruit ready: In a large stainless steel skillet put thick slices of firm, fresh, pitted skin removed peaches, fresh blue or yellow Italian plums, skins on, and Bosc pears, peeled, cut in equal portions. Add a quarter cup of cold butter. Allow the fruit to sauté and make its own juices. Lower heat, cover and let the fruit soften slightly.

Add a little sugar simple syrup, and/or a little figgy jus from your cognac black mission fig marinating jar. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the fruit. Add five or six whole cloves in a tied cheesecloth sac. You might like to add a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon and/or allspice. Add a pinch of salt.

Flambé the fruit with a full cup of cognac. Burn off the alcohol. Stir in a half cup of port. Let the fruit mix cool in the fridge and the liquid will congeal.

Using a large serving spoon, place the sautéed fruit mix on top of the two cups of the cheese mixture you placed on the baked pastry. Then top with the remaining cheese mixture.

Bake the cheesecake on the oven bottom rack until a knife inserted in the cheesecake comes out clean. Set your timer for 40 minutes and check periodically.

Alternate: Sauté firm, fresh, marinated but not macerated black mission figs, and proceed the same as with mixed fruits. 

For another opportunity to make a very special cheesecake, use my cooked down mix of figgy sauce made with macerated, marinated in Asbach Uralt brandy black mission figs and my German plum conserve, made with Italian blue plums in season.

The result in all choices is very tasty for sure. And quite likely a cheesecake you have never enjoyed before.

This recipe makes a very large cheesecake that keeps well in the refrigerator for several days. So, if you are preparing for a dinner party you can easily make your cake a day in advance. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container large enough to accommodate the size of the spring form pan base.

Pre-cut into manageable small size wedges, because it is very filling. Ideal after a light meal rather than a heavy one. Or served alone with a special coffee such as Asbach Rudesheimer, a few hours after a formal dinner settles.


This is the base recipe from the mid-1970s, from which I developed all the variables for my other cheesecake recipes:

Pineapple Cheesecake

Filling:
  • 5 – 8 oz pkg cream cheese
  • 5 eggs plus 2 yolks
  • ¼ t vanilla
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1¾ c sugar
  • 3 T flour
  • ½ c whipping cream
  • 1 20 oz tin crushed pineapple (drained) packed in light sugar syrup. (It’s important to use pineapple packed in light sugar syrup; most tins are packed just in juice or water). If necessary, drain the tin of pineapple and save the juice. Stir a matching amount of liquid into the pineapple by replacing the liquid with homemade light sugar syrup; equal parts sugar and water simmered until the sugar melts into the water. This is important for the end texture of the baked cake.
Basic pastry:

1 c (sweet only) butter

½ c sugar

2 egg yolks

½ t vanilla

2 c flour

With a pastry cutter, work together the butter and sugar and egg yolks. Add flour until the mixture reaches the consistency of coarse cornmeal.

Pat two-thirds of the mixture with your hand into the bottom of a 30-cm ungreased spring form pan and bake in preheated 400 F oven until just golden (not brown) – about seven minutes. You will have to watch this closely the first few times until you see how the mixture reacts to your oven.

Remove and let cool until you can touch the metal pan.  (I stick the pan in the freezer for a few minutes).

With the remaining pastry, pat it to form a side crust nearly to the top edge of pan, overlapping slightly the cooked pastry.  The side pastry will bake with the filling.

Into a large mixing bowl, put five packages of cream cheese, which is at room temperature and has been broken in several pieces each to take the strain off your mixer motor. Add the eggs and extra yolks and beat until mixture is creamy, increasing speed as mixture allows.  Add sugar, vanilla, salt and flour and continue beating, starting on low speed and increasing speed as the flour is mixed into batter.

Now add liquid cream and beat a further five minutes.  After adding pineapple, mix on low speed only until the pineapple is incorporated.

Turn into the waiting pastry shell and bake for 15 minutes at 400 F, then turn the oven down to 325 F and continue baking for about an hour, longer if necessary.

Check the centre by inserting a sharp knife.  When it comes out clean, the cake is ready to remove from the oven.

If you like, decorate it with the remaining whipping cream that has been whipped with three tablespoons of icing sugar and a ½ teaspoon vanilla.

Put cream into a forcing bag and squirt an edge all around cake.  If you want to make your cheesecake look even more elegant, decorate the top with the cream and a few pieces of pineapple in the centre.


And then there’s the not-so-typical, my dark fruit cake, in the Christmas fashion:

Lady Ralston’s Dark Fruitcake

This not only makes a wonderful Christmas fruitcake, but is great for weddings too.  The recipe is my own combination of a mixture my mother used, one from her sister-in-law and a few variations I’ve made over the years.  It is truly one of the best I’ve ever eaten.

  • 1 lb sweet butter
  • 2 c fine white sugar
  • 1½ c light brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 c strong fresh-brewed coffee (definitely not instant coffee)
  • 4 T mixed spices (cinnamon, allspice, cloves, mace, nutmeg, cardamom)
  • 1 T soda (mixed with milk)
  • 2 lbs Raisins (sultana)
  • 2 lbs Currants
  • ½ lb shelled walnuts pieces
  • ½ lb mixed citron peel (use from your pantry citrus rind sugar jar)
  • 1 c homemade strawberry jam
  • ½ lb chopped candied mixed fruit
  • ½ lb candied red maraschino cherries
  • ½ lb candied green maraschino cherries
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ c Marsala wine
  • 4½-5 c flour

Cream butter and sugars.  Add beaten eggs, coffee, spices and milk.  In a large bowl (or pot) mix all the fruit and nuts with as much of the flour as you need to dredge them.

Back to the batter, stir in the strawberry jam, salt and add to fruit. Mix in the leftover flour.

Mix very well and the spoon mixture into two 10-inch spring form pans lined with greased brown paper.  Bake at 325 F for about two and a half hours.  Watch closely in the last half hour.

Let stand for about 10 minutes, invert and remove the brown paper.  Wrap cakes in cheesecloth soaked in Marsala wine and store in an airtight container.  This will keep for many months. That’s why I always made my Christmas cake in August.

If you wish, when the cakes are about a week old, cover the top with almond paste and regular white icing.  Re-wrap and store.  The recipe makes about 12 lbs. of cake.

And of course, some people prefer a light Christmas fruitcake, and enjoyed this recipe initially published in the mid 1970s.

Light fruitcake

Although dark fruitcake is customarily frosted in one form or another, light fruitcake seldom is.  If you have never attempted to bake a fruitcake before, start with the light one.  There is very little labour involved; just allow yourself plenty of time for your oven to do its job.  Wrap your fruitcake in several layers of cheesecloth that has been soaked in your favourite brandy. For an unusual, but pleasant new flavour in an old method, swap Southern Comfort for the brandy.

Store in an airtight container for the next six or seven weeks and you’ll have a delightful treat to offer guests who will pop in for the first taste of Christmas at your house.

Remember not to peek, as this causes your oven to drop at least 25 degrees.  When it is nearly time for your baking to be finished, then and only then, test for doneness.

Don’t be overly worried if your baking requires an extra 10 minutes or so.  Every oven performs differently, and manufacturers guarantee controls only to a 25-degree accuracy.

Remember to preheat your oven for at least half an hour before you use it, as this allows time for the heat to stabilize.


Pineapple Fruitcake (Light)

  • ¾ c butter
  • 1 c white sugar
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • 3 c flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • ½ lb white raisins
  • ½ lb candied red cherries
  • ½ lb candied red and green pineapple
  • 1 med tin crushed pineapple in light sugar syrup (I always used Dole brand.)

Preheat oven to 325 F. Cream butter and sugar.  Add salt and eggs.  Add 2½ cups of the flour with baking powder.  Dredge fruit with remaining flour and add to the cake batter, combining well.  Add drained crushed pineapple and stir till thoroughly mixed.

Cut a piece of brown paper; butter a 10-inch-square pan and fit the paper.  Turn the paper so the greased side is up.  Pour in batter and bake for about 1½ hours.  Cool.  Remove the paper and allow it to cool completely before wrapping and storing.

And not to be forgotten is my old wonderful German Asbach Stollen, as published in REM many years ago. It’s easy to make and is a real show-stopper on your winter banquet or buffet table.

Not being a sweets-preference person, I do enjoy a treat once in awhile, although given the option, I would always choose a savoury. When I had family, before the empty-nest syndrome and back when I was teaching Gourmet Cooking with Carolyne, I had all my holiday baking ready for Christmas indulgences by the end of August. I accounted for every minute of my real estate life, but always found time to have a light genoise layer cake on hand (that’s what is used to make a spectacular “jelly roll,” ready (every week for many years) to be filled with my favourite konditerei stiff whipped Chantilly Cream in any flavour that struck my fancy on a given day, sometimes with fresh fruit in season, likely fresh peaches, fresh strawberries or raspberries, placed on the base layer and drizzled with liqueur best suited for a match. I confess, the genoise layer cake, cream filled became my favourite; it is so light and airy, followed closely by my German Asbach Stollen.


Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to all REM readers at home here in Canada, in the U.S.A. and around the world.

God Bless You.

Merry Christmas!

Mele Kalikimaka!

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Chanukah!

Frohliche Weinachten!

Joyous Noel!

II-Milied It-Tajjeb!

Boas Festas!

Buon Natale!

Feliz Navidad!

Prettige Kerstdagem!

Kellemes Karacsonyi Unnepeket!

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong taon!

‘n Geseende Kersfees en ‘n voorspoedige Nuwejaar!

Een Plesierige Kerfees!

Sretan Bozic!

Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!

If you have a language I missed, please send me a note, so it can be included next time.


A little something, from me to you

When you set your table for any celebration this year, or at Christmas or whatever festivity you celebrate, here is an idea.

Place a candle in a small holder at each place setting. Do not light the candle. When you are all gathered at the table, have the host or hostess light one candle using the flame from a previously lighted candle in the centre of the table (or from the centre-piece arrangement).

The host or hostess will then light the candle of the first guest to the right, using the flame from his/her candle, as the guest tips their candle in receipt of the flame being offered. That guest will do the same for the person to his/her right, until you make the way all the way around the table. As each candle is lighted, say something like, “I give thanks for your friendship” or “I give thanks for your love” or even just, “I’m glad that you are here today”. Get creative and enjoy.

The light shining from each candle at each place setting will cast a wonderful glow on each guest’s face. After grace or after the first course, you may want to extinguish the candles, one by one, with a small long-handled flame extinguisher cover, passing it counter clockwise around the table, ending with the host/hostess.

May you and yours have a fabulous holiday season and a wonderful new year.

 

© From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks – Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. The cookbook will be available in the coming year. Email Carolyne.