Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May Showers and Chocolate Chai Cheesescake

Spring is here and love is in the air! My dear friend Rachel is getting married in just a few weeks to the fabulous Dave, and as the matron of honor, I had the privilege of throwing a little wedding shower for her on the weekend. It's pretty easy to please ladies with chocolate, so I served it in several forms, the only deviation being some mini strawberry shortcakes.

These desserts, along with some sparkling white sangria (one of my favorite summer drinks) kept the bride-to-be and her friends happy and a good time was had by all!

A chocolate-themed shower is a no-brainer. If only everything about being a matron of honor was that simple.
How will I decide what to do with my hair?
Where will I find the perfect earrings?
And that upcoming speech? Yikes!

Mini Heart-Shaped Strawberry Shortcakes

A classic genoise sheet cake, cut into hearts, brushed with a simple syrup and topped with a strawberry. Just before serving, garnished with whipped cream. Light and elegant.

Chocolate Chai Cheesecake
Recipe below!

Chocolate-Dipped Cherries
The first cherries of the season-I could eat dozens of these simple sweet treats.

Coffee Liquor Truffles
Dark chocolate and Kahlua--oh-so-rich and good.

Gingersnaps and Mayan Chocolate Sparklers
You've seen these before!

Chocolate-dipped Strawberries

So, for that cheesecake recipe. At first I was going to make a standard chocolate cheesecake, but as I was in the process of putting it together, I decided to add some chai tea and spices to make it a little more exciting. My favorite cupcake in Montreal is chocolate chai and it's a combination made in heaven.

The chai and spices are added only to the topping, so they are not too overpowering. Also, I don't like crust that goes all the way up the sides, but if you do, just one and a half times the recipe for the crust and press it up the sides.

Chocolate Chai Cheesecake
Makes a 10-inch round. Serves 12 generously, 16 modestly.

for crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon

for filling:

500 grams cream cheese (2 pkg Philly), room temp.

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1 cup 35% cream
250 grams semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped or in chips
3 large eggs, room temperature

for the topping:
1 cup chocolate

1 cup 35 % cream
1 chai tea bag (I used Stash Chai Spice)

three green cardamom pods, seeds remove and reserved, shell discarded

1/2 inch cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon whole mace
1/4 tonka bean (optional)

1/2 long pepper (optinal)

Preheat oven to 350F.

For the crust:
Combine all four ingredients and mix well. Spread mixture evenly over the bottom of a 10 inch spring form cheesecake pan.

Use the bottom of a water
glass to press crust down and pack firm. Bake 7 minutes and cool.

For the filling:
Melt chocolate and cream slowly in a bain marie. Mix well to ensure there are no lumps. Cool slightly.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in a mixer until creamy. Add vanilla and mix well. With the paddle attachment, slowly mix in melted chocolate mixture and combine well.
Add eggs, one at a time until they are all incorporated. Do not overbeat.

Pour mixture over crust in the spring form pan and place on the middle rack in oven. Bake 40-50 minutes, until the middle is set.
Remove from oven and cool completely.

For the glaze:
In a bain marie, gently bring the cream to a boil. Add chai tea bag and let steep for about 10 minutes. Remove and discard bag.
Add chocolate to cream and melt slowly.
Combine all spices in a spice grinder and pulse until finely ground.
Add to melted chocolate. Stir well.
Pour over cooled cheesecake and chill until set.

Garnish with shaved chocolate, fresh fruit, chocolate covered coffee beans or topping of your choice.

This cheesecake keeps well for several day as long as it is refrigerated and covered with cling wrap.


Peter M said...

Aimee, your friend Rachel should be very pleased to receive this gifts of your kitchen and imagination...super!

Anonymous said...

Mmm. I wish I was at this party!
Great chocolate theme and what an amazing cheesecake.

Hit Pay Dirt said...

oh good God. If you were my matron of honour, I'd marry YOU. How can her betrothed top this kind of treatment?!?


LyB said...

You could throw me any kind of party any time, all of those treats look incredible! The cheesecake sounds so sinful, but I have to say those chocolate dipped cherries got my attention too! :)

Marilyn said...

Lovely menu, Aimeee. Thanks for stopping by over at Simmer, and I'm glad to find your blog...funny, but you and I seem to have done the same things - kitchen-home-kitchen. Your chocolate looks terrific!

RecipeGirl said...

Everything looks fabulous! I love to do a baby shower sort of thing, and chocolate is a nice idea :)

Mandy said...

That looks fantastic! What better theme for a bridal shower than the 'queen' of 'women' foods: chocolate! Looks devine, Aimee.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I'm on a sugar high just by looking at your photos, Aimée! You are a super friend.

Dana said...

Oooh, all of these things sound so good! I love pairing chocolate with spices :).

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Look at all those wonderful treats. I wish I were getting married gaian if only to reap such glory!

Aimée said...

Hi Peter- Yes, she was happy!

Hi Kimberly- What better theme than chocolate, really.

Hi Gillian- **Smiles**

Hi Lyb- The cherries were great. Oh, and you'll be getting an invite soon...

Hi Marilyn- Welcome to UtHC! Have we really? That's funny.

Hi recipegirl- Thanks!!

Hi Mandy- I know you have a special place in your heart for chocolate..so when's the wedding? :)
Hi Patricia- Thanks, sweetie.

Hi Dana- It's a favorite flavor combination of mine, too.

Hi Valli- So when is the wedding?? ;)

Emily said...

Crust going up the sides is just messy.

All of the goodies look wonderful. I'll be honest, I would have pigged out.

I love chocolate chai! I made something with a chocolate chai theme, recently.

Anonymous said...

I could use a slice of that cheesecake rrrright now! It looked divine. Thanks for the recipe. XXOO

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

wow... you made all of these desserts by yourself? What a great friend! Beautiful!

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

My god Aimee - HEAVEN!!! Have been looking for a chocolate cheesecake recipe for absolutely ages, will be making this on Sunday for a family party for sure!!!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

So much chocolatey goodness. If chocolate = love, then Rachel must feel well-loved.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

What a lucky friend. Beautiful and indulgent you hit the spot. With a baby still tiny, throwing parties, thinking about wearing a maid of honour dress.., let alone what to do with your hair - you're just too cool!

My Sweet & Saucy said...

it looks like you went all out for this shower...I'm blown away by all your delicious looking desserts! Great job!

Anonymous said...

just wondering, what kind of chocolate so you use for the topping?

looks fabulous, you are really talented

Nora B. said...

Aimée, these look so fab!! Your friend is so lucky that you went through all that trouble with these lovely goodies.

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I am not going to let this blog block get the best of me. I really feel that it's shaking off, so I hope to be blogging regularly soon.

Have a good weekend,

xx Nora

Marie Rayner said...

Oh mmm....can I come? Everything looks so delicious! I hope you had a wonderful party!!

Kajal@aapplemint said...

what wonderful treats Amiee, and choc chai cheesecake... brilliant !
your garden below looks lovely too, i'm about to start planting my herbs too.

Abby said...

Those strawberries are GORGEOUS! And I love cherries, too. I can't wait until they're in season here!

Julia said...

Beautiful cake! What a special friend you must be;)

Anonymous said...

Aimee - Laura made the chocolate chai cheesecake - to die for! quite dense. -J

Anonymous said...

Aimee, question from a novice cheesecake baker. A friend of mine gave me his recipe for a banana chocolate chai cheesecake. However, he never mentions anything about brewing the chai first. His recipe merely states to add a half cup chai to the cream cheese filling. Please advise--do you recommend I brew the tea first and use it as a liquid ingredient or grind the spices into a powder? Thanks so much...

Aimée said...

Hi Anonymous- My guess would be a half of a cup of strong, brewed chai. It there any other liquid in the recipe?
A 1/2 cup spices just sounds silly!

Good luck!


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