hazelnut cheesecake

hazelnut cheesecake

I have to think about this one for a second. Should I do this?

Yes, I think I should.

hazelnut cheesecake

Okay here it goes. I recently read an article somewhere which stated that food bloggers are multitalented…Not only do they possess knowledge about baking/cooking, but they are also adequate writers and photographers, at least that’s what is expected from them and those are the qualities they should possess in order to be successful in the field.

hazelnut cheesecake

Well, to me writing is the trickiest of the three qualities, and I’m not talking about proper grammar usage or correct verb conjugation. I’m talking about trying to transmit my thoughts fully and properly with words. I have never been a person of many words, especially spoken words. An introvert like me, would rather express herself in other ways. But as I read over some of my posts, I have to admit that I have frequently and conveniently mistaken this blog for a diary, where I’m permitted to ramble on and on and then shyly hit the “publish” button. That doesn’t mean I’m a great writer. That just means that I happened to find the correct words in that specific time and place to express a certain feeling or thought. And thank God I did.

hazelnut cheesecake

Well, today, as I think about these cheesecakes I made, a bundle of emotion is stirred up inside of me and I might have to “let it all come out” and come clean once again…through words.

hazelnut cheesecake

hazelnut cheesecake

Here is the story. I made hazelnut cheesecakes today. I made one set for Periphery and one for me. Incase you didn’t know, Periphery is a progressive metal band that is doing really wonderful things in music.They just left for an Australian tour and I made them these treats before they left on their journey.

hazelnut cheesecake

About a year and half ago my other half, Mark, was offered the position of becoming one of Periphery’s full-time guitarists. He was offered the opportunity of a life time…of his life time. At the time, I was almost convinced that this opportunity, as rewarding as it may have been for him, did not match with what I had in mind for us. To keep things brief, after having been with Mark for many many years, I deeply believed that this sudden change of pace and life style in our lives would be a problem. I was stuck in the notion that the idea of the two (the band/touring and me) could not coexist. I was stubborn and pushed away. This would either make us or break us.

hazelnut cheesecake

Luckily we are still one, stronger than ever. It took some adjusting and getting used to, but after some compromise and care from both sides, we got over the unexpected bump on the road and swerved back to our path. After testing the waters and giving it a try, I realized that this situation is not that bad. I won’t bother listing the pros and cons. He is doing what he loves and that is very important.

hazelnut cheesecake

hazelnut cheesecake

So today, I made two sets of cheesecakes: one for me and one for Periphery to take on their trip. Mine has chopped and toasted hazelnuts along with striped dark chocolate on the top. Theirs has the band’s logo on the surface of each individual piece. Mine is a larger and thicker piece (I know, I know), while theirs are smaller and thinner mini cheesecakes, to the point where they almost resemble cheesecake cookies…Cheesecake and cookies united as one?! Simply delicious.

hazelnut cheesecake

hazelnut cheesecake

They are both different, but still alike, since the same batter, method, and care, were taken to elaborate both. After all, we can all coexist peacefully.

hazelnut cheesecakes

And even better? The guys enjoyed their treats quite a bit and as you probably figure, few things in the world gratify me more than to bring happiness to others through sweets. I hope you find them to be just as tasty.

hazelnut cheesecake

• Yield: Six mini cheesecakes and one 6″ x 2″ medium-sized cheesecakes. However, the yield varies depending on what size pan you prefer to use. I’m sure you can probably get two 8″ cheesecakes out of this. Freeze for 3-4 weeks well wrapped. Keep in fridge for about 2 days.

• Note: I used tart pans for the mini cheesecakes. I know you may be thinking, “Tart pans are meant to be used to bake tarts, not cheesecakes! Duuuh!” And you are so right. However, that’s what I had in hand and I made it work just fine. Since the material of the cake pans is so thin, the baking time decreases significantly because the heat reaches the batter sooner and with more force. If using a spring form pan, be sure to wrap the bottom and sides of cake pan with aluminum foil to prevent leakage. 

ingredients for hazelnut cookie crust:

4 oz butter

2 oz sugar

3.5 oz AP flour

1/4 tsp salt

2.5 oz hazelnuts

recipe for hazelnut cookie crust:

1. Place hazelnuts into a food processor and grind until hazelnuts are finely crushed. Set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugar until butter is light and fluffy.

3. Mix AP flour, ground hazelnuts, and salt together.

4. Slowly add all dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture and mix on low speed until dough comes together.

5. Drop spoonfuls of dough two inches apart onto a sheet tray that is covered with parchment paper. You will most likely need two baking sheets to bake off all the cookies. Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes, until cookies become golden brown. Allow cookies to cool off.

ingredients for cheesecake:

hazelnut cookies

8 oz cream cheese

4 oz sugar

6 oz Nutella

1/2 tsp vanilla

3 oz mascarpone cheese

2 eggs

1 yolk

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 C hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped

2 oz of dark chocolate

recipe for cheesecake:

1. Grind hazelnut cookies in a food processor until cookies are finely ground. The natural oils in the hazelnut will come out when this happens, so adding melted butter is not necessary to keep the crumbs together. 

2. Grease six 3″ x 1″ tart pans and one 6″ x 2″ round cake pan
 with vegetable spray. Cut out circles that have the same circumference as the base of the pans and place each circular piece of parchment paper on the base of each pan.

3. Press grounded hazelnut cookies into prepared pans. Bake at 350 F for about 10-12, until crust becomes golden brown. Allow crust to cool off completely.

4.  Preheat oven to 275 F. Cream cream cheese and sugar on medium speed for a couple of minutes until cream cheese is light, fluffly, and smooth. There should be no solid chunks of cream cheese at this point. Add Nutella and vanilla.

IMG_4980

5. Add mascarpone cheese and continue to mix just until mixture is creamy and well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl and be sure that all ingredients are well integrated.

6.  Add yolks and eggs one at a time on low speed until batter is very smooth.

7. Strain batter into a large bowl. Ladle batter into prepared mini tart pans, until batter reaches almost to the top of each pan. Ladle remaining batter into 6″ x 2″ cake pan.

IMG_4981

8. Place mini tart pans onto a baking sheet tray. Place sheet tray into preheated oven and pour water into sheet tray, until water reaches about halfway the sides of each pan. Place 6″ x 2″ cake pan onto a separate baking pan with sides. Pour water into baking pan so that water reaches about halfway the sides of cake pan. Bake mini cheesecakes for about 20-30 minutes and larger cake for about 1 hr 20 min, until cakes jiggle in the center when tapped.

9. Cool cheesecakes completely at room temperature. Place cakes in freezer for about 1-2 hours. 

10. Turn frozen cheesecakes upside down over a flat surface that is covered with parchment paper. Torch the sides and bottom of each cake and tap firmly until cheesecakes are released. Turn cheesecakes over.

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11. Time decorate your cakes…sprinkle a handful of toasted/chopped hazelnuts over the surface of each cheese cake. Place dark chocolate in a small bowl and melt over a bain-marie. Place melted dark chocolate into a pre-made paper cone. Cut the paper cone’s tip and and move swiftly and quickly back and forth over the cake to create thin lines of chocolate on its surface. If you don’t have a paper cone and don’t feel comfortable making one, you could try dipping the tip of a fork or a spoon in the melted chocolate and moving it back and forth over the cake so that chocolate drizzles over it.

hazelnut cheesecake

You can then play around some more with the chocolate…It’s fun to do so and you may have trouble containing yourself.

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You can also draw the logo of a progressive metal band with the chocolate, that’s just one idea for instance…

hazelnut cheesecake

Now comes the best part. Move the cheesecake onto a serving dish or platter with an offset spatula. Cut yourself a small piece or various pieces and enjoyyyyy! Be ware though, this dessert is super decadent and rich. A small piece goes a long way.

hazelnut cheesecake

amsterdam • 10 notes about the city

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

First things first. If you haven’t noticed yet, this post has nothing to with sweet desserts or sweet things like the rest of the posts you may find on this site.

Wait. I’m completely and utterly wrong.

This post has everything to do with pure sweetness. It’s about Amsterdam and Amsterdam is the absolute definition of SWEEEET!

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

But you get my point. After all, you wouldn’t be able to glaze the city in ganache or cover it with Italian meringue or apricot glaze. Actually, after visiting the city, everything could be possible in Amsterdam.

Once in a while I like to throw in a post or two about random thoughts or inspirations that don’t necessarily showcase a dessert. And this is one of those times. I hope that is alright with you.

So this is the story. I bought flight tickets from Spain to this incredible city (which at that certain point in time I didn’t actually realize how incredible the city really was) to spend three days there. The original plan was to meet with my other half, Mark, and spend those three days with him, since he’s currently touring Europe with his band Periphery and Amsterdam was one of their stopping points on tour.

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

So yes, the plan was for Mark and I to meet in Amsterdam on the first night I arrived in Amsterdam and spend plenty of time together (if you consider three days to be plenty of time, that is).

Well, in Spain there is a certain saying that I think summarizes the whole situation pretty accurately. It goes something like this: “El hombre propone y Dios dispone.” It translates into “Man proposes and God decides/arranges.”

To make things short, his band’s tour bus experienced a bus fire while they were in Great Britain on the same exact day we were supposed to meet in Amsterdam. Needless to say, our rendez-vous got pushed back. The band was still stuck in Great Britain while I was already in Amsterdam!

One thing led to another and the result was me having to spend two days alone in Amsterdam. How tragic…(Can you note my sarcasm?) After walking through the historic canals in Amsterdam Centre for less than five minutes on my own, I was completely captivated and drawn to the city.

Mark, who?….

Just joking. I really did miss him, but I was also ready to experience this city on my own. Thus, the adventure began. After walking and biking through the streets of this captivating city these are the observations I made about Amsterdam. I present to you a brief list.

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

1. Bicycles, bicycles, bicycles. You may already know this but really, in Amsterdam there is an abundance of bicycles and the locals use this two-wheel device more than any other mode of transportation to get around. They dominate the roads and the urban lifestyle of the Dutch. I witnessed locals biking while texting, eating, listening to music on their headphones, and I even saw a couple holding hands while biking across town.

Warning: Look twice and up to four times before crossing the streets if you are in a crowded area in Amsterdam or you may just go down…or maybe not. It seemed to me that the locals are so used to tourists’ state of awe that they have mastered the art of navigating through and around them. But just to be extra safe.

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

2. Speaking of bicycles…getting around the city in one is not as easy as you would probably imagine if you’re a tourist…You may be better off walking to get to your final destination. Trust me.

3. Amsterdam if freaking beautiful! This might be completely obvious to some, but really. Out of all the cities that I have visited in the past, this city might easily win #1 prize for having the most mesmerizing sceneries and life style. I could walk through the historic canals endlessly if it weren’t for potential cramping and tiredness of leg limbs among other bodily discomforts. But I mean, really. Have you looked at pictures of this place? If you have, great. But as you have probably heard many many times, pictures won’t really do justice.

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

sweet-lab.com / Vondelpark, Amsterdam

4. People in this city look fit and healthy despite their age. I did not see a single overweight person and if I did, he/she was most likely a tourist….Even elderly people look fit and seem to be blooming with life.

5. Walk along and you’re bound to find nice neighborhood bakeries with fresh pastries…Yummm, pastries. You know how much I enjoy those. And I’m not talking about those super special “coffee shops”. Although you’re bound to find plenty of those too.

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

6. People seem/are free-spirited and opened-minded. You want to tie yourself in chains and saran wrap while cussing like a sailor? I say you do it. This Australian guy did and people left him completely alone. Amsterdam is the place to live your wildest dreams.

street performer / Amsterdam

7. You don’t speak Dutch? No problem. Everyone (EVERYONE) speaks English.

I AMsterdam

8. The Flower Market is an unbelievable place. So is the Amstel River. So is Vondelpark. So is Zeedijk Street. So is are a lot of places in Amsterdam.

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

9. Anne Frank continues to be one of the most inspiring figures in our life time. Many people, including myself, already knew that, but visiting Anne Frank Huis only reinforces such fact. It allows you to become even more familiar with the tragic life events that she and her family endured during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and with the strong and determined personality she had as a child. The visitor learns what Anne wanted for herself, for her family, and for humanity. She had a dream and a goal, despite her young age.

Anne Frank Huis / Amsterdam

10. You will not leave Amsterdam without dreaming of returning back in the very near future. This place can be magical.

It was for me.

sweet-lab.com / Amsterdam

And yes, this story has a happy ending. I finally got reunited with Mark on the third day. He’s the one wearing the olive-green shirt towards center-back stage. His body is turned back and out of focus because he’s jumping around like a maniac onstage. As usual.

sweet-lab.com / Melkweg, Amsterdam

Did I mention that he has the power to make me laugh uncontrollably? Well, he does.

Canal Bus / Amsterdam