Remember when I posted about Blake’s Homecoming Dinner and I said that you should always stick to a tried and true recipe when planning a dinner for others? That was good advice.
Unfortunately, I don’t always heed my own advice. For the past two years, every time I’ve baked with a Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar, I’ve saved the wrapper so that I could try one of the recipes on the back – the Marbled Cheesecake Brownies. I’ve always had issues with cheesecake so I thought a cheesecake bar would be an easier route. And, Blake likes cheesecake. And, I could make ’em the night before, store them in the fridge and slice right before our big welcome home dinner. Or so I thought.
Things didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped and instead of slicing the bars to put on a platter right before Blake arrived I found myself grabbing a box of Betty Crocker’s Original Supreme Premium Brownie Mix with Hershey’s and making a batch of brownies…from the box (gasp)…to serve in place of the cheesecake bars.
And you know what? They were delicious. And the cheesecake bars? Well, they weren’t that bad. They just weren’t pretty. And the texture was off. And the crust was just plain weird. But to most people, (including Blake, Trent and Trent’s office-mates) they were a pretty good dessert. The thing is, I’m not one for pretty good. As much as I hate to admit it, I am a bit of a perfectionist (No! You don’t say!).
And so I learned my lesson: to not try new fancy desserts (that you’ve always had trouble with, anyway) when you’re planning a special dinner. I can’t promise it won’t happen again. But at least next time I won’t worry about it so much. Cooking is humbling and that’s one of the reasons I love it. For me, it’s an exercise in humility, in patience and in learning to give it up. Because, in the end, your friends (especially if they’re boys) will likely eat whatever you make. And they’ll tell you its good (even if it’s not). And they’ll still be your friend. And that whole welcome home dinner you planned? It won’t be ruined. It will just have two desserts.
I’ve posted the cheesecake bar recipe below. If you’re better than me with cheesecake it might work for you. And please, please tell me about it if it does (or if you have any advice on cheesecake in general, I’d love to hear that, too). One recommendation I would definitely make is to substitute a regular graham cracker crust for the pecan one (this might be a good place to start). It was too thick, it didn’t taste much like pecans and it didn’t really go with the cheesecake at all.
Ghirardelli Marbled Cheesecake Bars
1 cup flour
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
24 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 oz. Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar, melted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Crust: Combine the flour, pecans, butter and brown sugar; mix well. Press the mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased 8″ or 9″ square baking pan. Bake 15-16 minutes, or until light golden brown.
Batter: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Set 1 cup plain batter aside. Combine the melted chocolate into the mixing bowl. Spoon the chocolate batter over the crust. Pout 1 cup plain batter over chocolate batter. Using the blade of a butter knife, swirl the batter to create a marbled effect.
Bake 30-35 minutes, or until center is set. Cook on rack to room temperature. Cover, and transfer the pan to the refrigerator to chill, approximately three hours. Store covered in the refrigerator.
Source: Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar wrapper