Chambord Chocolate Cheesecake

I’ve been meaning to put this up for awhile, as I had a hankering for a chocolate cheesecake that wasn’t too cheesecake-y.  I’m not a big fan of the tang of American cream cheese with chocolate.   This turned out as a cross between a chocolate cheesecake and a flourless chocolate cake.  Very rich, and I think next time I will halve the recipe and make it in a cake pan, because you can’t eat much of this at once.  But here is the recipe (basic springform pan):

2 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese

1 cup sugar

~5 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup Chambord (or other liqueur of your choice, or nothing)

1 cup heavy cream

~14 oz Dark chocolate

2 tsp cornstarch

For the crust:

~2 cups Animal crackers (non-frosted kind)

3/4 stick butter (3/8 cup), melting

Grease the springform pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper, if you like.  Crush the cookies in a bag with a rolling pin.  Add them to the melted butter, and press in the the springform pan.  Bake at 350 °F for 15 minutes to set.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.  I usually cheat and chop the chocolate and melt in the microwave on 20 s intervals with some of the heavy cream.  Adding cream prevents the chocolate from seizing.  After each interval, mix thoroughly until it is smooth and glossy.  Add the rest of the heavy cream and blend well.

In a separate bowl, cream the cream cheese and then add the sugar, making sure to get out any lumps.  Add the eggs one at a time, and blend well after each one.  Add the vanilla, cocoa powder, and liqueur.  Add the chocolate mixture and blend well.

Pour into the springform pan and bake at 350 °F for 35-50 minutes.  My oven is off, so cooking time will vary.   The cheesecake is done when it looks undercooked, and has a 3 inch wobbly center.  I usually miss it a bit and get some cracking on the edges, it will still taste good if slightly overcooked.  Refrigerate overnight.

When I made this, I also made a white chocolate/Chambord glaze by melting 6 oz of white chocolate and adding in a ~2 tbsp of Chambord.  But it’s good as is too.

Random cooking notes:

In case you’re wondering why I use Animal crackers, it is because I am sick to death of graham cracker crusts.  You know where graham crackers came from?  They came from a pastor who created them to suppress sexual urges.  This cheesecake is as far from abstinence as one can get.  Plus, I don’t like ’em.  And I like that the pale cookies provide a contrast to the chocolate filling.  You can use any cookie you want though (or graham crackers if that’s what you like)

Also understand that when I make things, I fudge with them.  I buy Omanhene chocolate, which comes in 400 g packages (14.6 oz), so that’s why I added 14 oz of chocolate.  Likewise, you can fudge on the eggs, 4 or 6 would be fine.  I think I had 5 when I made this, so that’s what I used.  And if you don’t have a crap oven like I do, you can omit the cornstarch.  I add it to help prevent  cracking.

Keep On Trying

I’ve been slipping back into some old patterns of anger.  Who would have thought that this is such a recurring theme for me?  The past couple of days I have been cleaning up the kitchen at night and I get so cranky.  It just sucks to cook and then clean up the same mess.  And last night, I tried a new recipe but Nova did not want to be put down.  So I’m eating right-handed (awkwardly) and I’m trying to scarf it down so I can bounce with her.  I couldn’t even get five minutes.  I was thinking idly, how many women in the past killed themselves when all they could see ahead of them was a lifetime of drudgery?  Because it’s hard, harder than it looks, to be the mother and wife of a household.  Oh, and my husband thinks he does so much (and to be gracious, he does do a lot), but however much he’s doing, I’m still doing more.

But when I am calmer, it is all understandable.  Nova had her 4-month shots yesterday and was cranky too.  She nursed for a solid hour at the end of the night, not because she was that hungry, she just wanted comfort.  And it’s hard to step back and realize-This is what I should be doing.  A clean house and making a nice supper, she doesn’t care.  She wants to be held, to be loved, to be wanted.  Nova and Rowan don’t care if all they get to eat is macaroni and cheese from a box or hotdogs and biscuits.  It’s me who cares.

I think in a way, Leif has a point.  He doesn’t have all these shoulds running around in his head.  Here I am, with a running tally of what needs to be done,
catboxes, dishes,
laundry, lunches,
supper, pumping,
flossing, brushing,

and he is immune.  Because to him it is a spiritual endeavor to be the best father he can be, by being there.  To give his kids what he lacked.  And his simplistic view, I have to admit, is the right one.

It’s my shame I’m carrying around.  Growing up in a cluttered and disorganized home, I never felt it.  And we always ate so well, even if the kitchen was a mess.  It was years later when Leif got to see the home I grew up, that I saw us as others must have.  We’re driving in, and I see the piles of black garbage bags filled with leaves all over the back yard, and the cruddy clothesline, and I realize we were trashy.  My parents didn’t smoke and drink beer and watch television all day, but I thought it was normal to retreat into books and just let the house fall apart around us.

So here I am, trying to be a clean, organized person, teach myself new tricks, afraid someone will figure out that I’m trashy.  Oh sure, I read a lot.  But what do I do?  And it is that I’m trying to fight against.  But part of me misses my slovenly ways, misses doing nothing, misses reading my vampire novels, misses the rich fantasy life I used to live in.  Me?  I have to be me?  If I don’t have time for makeup anymore and I’m not supposed to wear my contacts (much), can I still be beautiful if I’m plain?

At least I don’t wear sweatpants.

And look at what I DID do last night:
I made Chinese curried chicken from scratch
I nursed Nova for over an hour
I read to Rowan
I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner
I baked brioche with thawed dough in the refrigerator
I made cold brewed coffee for the next morning
I made a marinade for chicken wings (Rowan is really into chicken wings)
I pumped and got Nova’s milk ready
I got Rowan’s clothes ready
I cleaned the catboxes
I did my nightly pushups

Okay, so I did do a lot.  I should be proud, not crabby.  Tonight-chocolate ice cream and Firefly.

The Second Song

What is this life all about?  Sometimes in the night I feel so frightened, thinking this can all be taken away.  God, Nova and Rowan—I love them so much.  And yet people all over the world love their children and sometimes those children die.  Leif was on Facebook, looking at some photos of an old classmate.  It showed her in the early 80s, holding a baby about Nova’s age, and a young man beside her.  They were both looking down at the child.  The caption showed their names, and besides both the child and the man it showed the years they lived, with “(deceased)” next to each one.  The baby lived to be about 4 months.

And looking at a picture like that, you think, how awful.  How does anyone live through that?  Later pictures of this classmate show her with her pets, as though she never married again and never had any other children.  A possible life, forever altered and gone.

It is natural for a parent to worry, to feel your heart wrench at these stories.  And yet, I am also afraid to voice those fears, as though to speak of it might bring such a reality to me.  Even my own death seems like it would be a horrible catastrophe, not because my own life is that important, but because to take a mother away from her children hurts those children more than anything else.  Worrying about it certainly doesn’t help—after all, no amount of thinking about the worst could actually prepare you for the worst.

But I am so happy right now.  Is that part of being human, the fear of punishment when things go too well?  I look at Nova and Rowan and am amazed and grateful that I got two—two! great kids.  Nova coos and gurgles and kicks, so full of life, so ready to get on with it and explore.  Her bright eyes are like a starry sky.  She is wonderful, a joy, her smiles in the morning completely authentic and real before she learns pretense.  And I love to watch Rowan paint and listen to her stories, which become more elaborate every day.  Yesterday, she did a painting that was like a small novella.  There was a whole backstory, where a man got into a fight and a knife went into his heart, and the princess who loved him cried until there was a river of her tears.  See?  They’re great!

And then I think back into my own small experience of pain, when the man I loved no longer loved me (sounds melodramatic, but this is true).  It took me a long time to stop crying, to stop wondering why it worked at one point and then no longer did, and I wondered if I would have been better off if it had never happened.  But as time went by, I realized that for all the pain at the ending, there had been a lot of lovely things during, and overall the positive effect was more than the negative.  And so I try to enjoy all the good things in my life now, so even if something bad did happen, there would be more good things to remember than bad.  Would I really prefer that these days never happened if they ended prematurely?  All things end, eventually.  Rowan as a baby is gone, forever.  She was a cute baby, fun and smiles, very much like Nova.  But the baby had to disappear for the child to come forward.  And each stage has been as great, or better, than the last.

And this little gurgling, wiggly version of Nova will disappear too one day.  I can’t fast forward her face in my mind, I can’t envision yet what she will be.  But these are golden days, when she looks at me with love and with need (because the two are still the same for her), when her soft weight is so much a part of my arm or my lap, when her hair is only peach fuzz save the old man bald spot on the back of her head.  She is my baby, once physically part of me, now growing apart from me, but slowly.

When Rowan was born, it was like a song in my heart, and now there are two.  Since I don’t know what could happen, all I can do is love them as much as I possibly can, and prepare them for life as best as I know how.