I go through these phases of voluntary solitary confinement every few years, the last one being when I was doing my A levels. I had gone the entire summer holiday between AS and A2 not calling a single friend, read an average of 20 books a week, watched SO much tv, and spent most of those three months cooped up in my room, playing on SnitchSeeker. That was a bit drastic, and yet, when the semester began, I just picked up where I left off with my friends (them knowing me far too well) and re-entered “reality”.
It seems as if I may have hit the hermit stage again. Not that I don’t want to see my friends – I do – but it’s rather the fact that I sort of really enjoy my own company and doing what I like to do, which unfortunately are mostly… activities that you do alone (reading, internet surfing, watching tv, baking, fangirling One Direction, etc), and only a certain set of people (usually us internet nerds) enjoy…
My preferred form of socialising these days are confined to places where I can hear my friends speak so that I may actually have quality time with them, where the lights are steady and do not come with a disclaimer for causing epileptic shock, and where I can be home with enough time to still have a conversation with my family before I start getting ready for bed.
I think it’s just a side-effect of growing older. Meh.
Anyway, despite all this, I was quite looking forward to catching up with some friends and colleagues at a Bistro in town last night. Had even washed my hair, applied concealer and blush, and put on a fresh outfit! But my dad called, saying him and mum had to go for some networking thing, and needed me to pick up my siblings and grandma at my aunt’s in town. Now… I’m not one to say no to my father, even though I explained to him that I had made plans, and that these instructions would disrupt everything. We tried to find an alternative, but in the end, suffice to say, I scrubbed my face clean and changed into PJs.
To then soothe my grumpy mood at having one of my rare nights out disrupted, I decided to attempt this recipe that I have been dying to try for a few weeks now. I had initially planned on baking it as a round cake for my parents on Valentine’s Day, but that didn’t happen, so this time I decided to bake it in a square pan… as I liked the cheesecake bar concept I did for the Berry Cheesecake Bars previously.
So for those of you who are staying in this weekend, why don’t you try this recipe out and see if it helps to improve your mood as much as it did with me?
24 Oreos, processed or stuffed-in-a-ziploc-bag-and-smashed-with-a-rolling-pin into crumbs
5 1/2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 160C and grease and line your baking pan with butter and parchment paper
Combine the crumbs and butter, then pour into the pan. Press down with the bottom of a glass for an even and firm base
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside
Chocolate Ganache (x2)
2oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp confectioners sugar
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and microwave on full heat for roughly 20 seconds, take it out and stir to mix properly
Pour the ganache over the biscuit base, leveling with a spoon, then put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes
24oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy
Add the flour, beat and scrape side of bowl as necessary, then add the vanilla
Beat in the eggs one at a time
Pour the filling over the biscuit and ganache base in the pan, then bake for 35-45 minutes, or the middle just jiggles gently when the tin is shaken
Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, then chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours to set
Red Velvet Cake
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 ounce red food colouring
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Preheat the oven to 180C, butter and line the pan with parchment paper for ease of removing later
Cream the shortening, egg and sugar until fluffy
In a small bowl, mix the cocoa and colouring into a paste, then mix this into the shortening mixture
Beat in the salt and vanilla, scraping the side of the mixing bowl as necessary to ensure all current ingredients have been mixed evenly
Add the flour and buttermilk, alternating so that you begin with adding flour, then buttermilk, and end with flour
Combine baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl and fold into the batter
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer poked through the cake at an angle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack
Assembling the cake
The biscuit base, ganache layer, and cheesecake should already be in one pan. Carefully remove from the pan, and place on a cake board or serving platter. Apply another layer of chocolate ganache over the top of the cheesecake, then place the red velvet cake top-side-down on top of the cheesecake. Cut with a long serrated knife as necessary to ensure the sides match up.
Optional: Drizzle with remaining ganache
I didn’t add too much ganache or cream cheese frosting (as indicated in Willow Bird Baking’s recipe) as this cake is far too rich on its own. But that’s your prerogative!