Around the beginning of November, my mom told me one morning that she wanted me to bake desserts for Thanksgiving. This wasn’t news to me since I’ve been baking desserts for my family over a decade. She requested a cheesecake (again, nothing new) and she wanted to indulge herself with a key lime pie. I rolled my eyes and said, “Sure. Just get me some ingredients that we don’t have in the house. I have the chocolate for the cheesecake.” She replied, “Chocolate? For the cheesecake?” I said, “Yes, I want to change things up. I’m tired of making the same [raspberry] cheesecake I’ve been doing for the past several years.”
I still had the bittersweet chocolate baking bar and the cocoa powder from Scharffen Berger (from the previous event they’ve invited me a few months ago) so I should be set. Thing was, I wasn’t planning on making the cookie crust from scratch since my mom kept harassing me multiple times not to waste time by baking – a blatant oxymoron (How can anyone expect desserts made from scratch NOT take time?).
The weekend prior to Thanksgiving, my parents went to their local supermarkets and told me that after visiting three different stores, they don’t carry chocolate wafer cookies. Obviously, I have no choice but to make the cookie crust from scratch now…
My dad, being a sweetheart, offered his help to get his hands dirty for the cookie crust, kneading and mixing the dried ingredients of flour, cocoa powder (admittedly, I used a combination of Valhrona and Scharffen Berger), sugar, baking soda, salt and lots of butter, until it becomes a large blob of cocoa scented dough. Then I sealed it up in plastic wrap, place it in the fridge until Wednesday evening when I have to bake everything off so it can be consumed on Thanksgiving.
Making the TKO cookie dough and the dough blobs
On Thanksgiving eve, I had to roll out the cookie dough into sheets (it’s from the TKO cookie recipe found within the Essence of Chocolate book) and bake it off until it’s hardened and dry but not burnt.
While all of that cookie was set aside to cool, I made the cheesecake batter placing the three bars of cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, vanilla extract into my mixer. Once it’s all nice and smooth, I folded in the finely chopped bittersweet chocolate.
Making the cheesecake batter
After it’s baked for nearly an hour, the cheesecake had a whole series of cooling (within the warm oven that’s shut off, on the kitchen counter, and into the fridge overnight). The coconut key lime pie was a cinch to make (an adaptation to this recipe) compared to the cheesecake but the effort was well worth it.
Baked & cooling desserts
The chocolate chip cheesecake was unbelievably delicious. It’s creamy, light, not dense, and the flavor profile is sophisticated – chocolate-y without the saccharine sweetness that one would associate with chocolate desserts. I made it a bit more indulgent by whipping some heavy cream and top it with grated 82% cacao extra dark that I had left over in my pantry. Hey, it’s Thanksgiving; it’s an excuse to make this over the top. (By the way, we ate this for lunch.)
Decorated cheesecake & sliced
Come Thanksgiving dinner, my dad roasted a huge thirteen pound turkey. Interestingly enough, it didn’t take remotely as long as we would think of for a turkey – it’s only about 2.5 hours at most. It’s cooked through, very moist and flavorful. He didn’t brine it. It’s more like roasted chicken marinated the Chinese way – rubbed with a fermented bean paste, oyster sauce, five spice powder, salt, and pepper – and marinated for two days to get the flavors penetrated into that big bird.
Other sides we have were mussels cooked in a tomato-based sauce, stir-fried Chinese long beans, and bacon-wrapped shrimp. In case you get the hint, we’re not traditionalists. The only “traditions” we have for nearly a decade is turkey (either whole or breast only) and a decadent dessert (like cheesecake).
In case we didn’t fill our stomachs with enough food, we have the coconut key lime pie that I baked and refrigerated the previous night. The pie was refreshingly tart and creamy and the hint of the toasted, nutty coconut, baked within the crust, just worked with the tropical theme of this dessert.
Coconut key lime pie
That’s our Turkey Day dinner. Insanely decadent desserts and we’re still working on the leftovers…
Oh! I almost forgot, Happy belated Thanksgiving! How was your Thanksgiving meal? Successful? Stressful? Fun?
Recipe link for the key lime pie (here).s The noted differences from this recipe and what I did was the addition of 1/4 cup of dessicated coconut (not the sweetened, flaked ones) mixed into the graham cracker crust and baking it for 15 minutes in the oven at 350 because my parents have an issue ingesting anything that has a raw egg in it (I don’t mind it, personally, but I don’t want to start wars…)
For those of you who want the recipe for the chocolate chip cheesecake, please DO get yourself a copy of Essence of Chocolate. I’m not willing to type out the entire two recipes since it’s both the TKO Cookies (for the crust) and the Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. This book is very dependable. Great results and fantastic recipes. You’re not wasting your hard earned money if you do love chocolate and baking.