Posted by: njbrown | December 12, 2009

Cheesecake countdown

December 12, 2009

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake with Chocolate Ruffles

Tonight is the annual Christmas men’s group pot luck where we lucky wives are invited.  We are invited,  primarily I think, to bring food.  However, it is always a nice function.  Illness having taken up most of my week, I fell back on the seemingly less intimidating chocolate orange cheesecake that I last made about 20 years ago.  I probably have made cheesecake three times in my entire cooking career, so I am far from expert.  This cake has always cracked, but because I think plain chocolate cheesecake looks incredibly boring, I’ve just covered the cracks with chocolate decorations.  Yesterday’s attempt would have thrilled me if it were a souffle – puffed high with a lovely “crown” but a ring of cracking all around.  The recipe said the cake sinks, and it did – a lot.

Wondering if there is a way to avoid cracking, I Googled cheesecake cracking prevention, and found a number of tips – some from a site called something like “cooking for engineers” that was very scientific.  However, none of the tips guarantees a cheesecake without cracks.  I don’t remember Julia doing cheesecake, but I will search her books to see, because of course, Julia always knows.  Two of the tips that made sense were to drop the cake twice from an inch or two to get out the air bubbles (shaking in between drops), and to run a knife in S-shapes through the batter once it’s in the pan.  Another tip was to bake the cake briefly at 500 degrees (I don’t know if I can set my oven for that) and then lower to 200 for a total baking time of about an hour and 40 minutes (the time my recipe called for baking and resting in the turned off oven).  The engineers have you using a temperature probe, and doing other scientific things, but that is beyond my motivation.  Covering up is easier.  (After writing this, I found the Kraft Web site on cheesecake, and they have other tips.  I think my major problem was beating too much):  Cheesecake 101. For recipe see The Best Chocolate (Orange) Cheesecake

The cheesecake has been in the refrigerator overnight, and I now have two inverted sheet pans covered with chocolate getting firm in the refrigerator to hopefully make lovely chocolate ruffles.  That is the really nerve-wracking part.

More later –

I ended up doing three sheet pans of chocolate, and got abut 40 decent ruffles.  The process is really one of the messiest things I’ve ever done, since the chocolate has to be soft enough to “ruffle,” which makes it immediately melt onto your fingers. See Chocolate Ruffles Revisted  Many hand-washings are involved.  The next stage will be to cover the top of the cheesecake with whipped cream, and then place the fans in concentric rings on the top.  I have to hunt for some sparkly, gold artificial holly that is somewhere in the basement to use to decorate the plate.  Once assembled, the entire creation then has to be transported to our friends’ home.

More later –

The cake was successfully assembled, and the ruffles were dusted with a light sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar according to Alice Medrich’s instructions.  In actuality, from the top, the cake was completely covered with ruffles, and it looked lovely on the silver platter.  George and I decided that the gold holly would be “gilding the lily” so didn’t use it.  People were suitably impressed, and I have after weeks of anticipatory anxiety, several trips for chocolate, and three practice runs on ruffles, achieved another culinary milestone.

Thank you for your moral support.




  1. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment.

    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Appreciate it!

    • If you click the “blogs I follow” icon, it will take you to a page where you can choose not to be notified.

      Sorry – this is beyond my control, but I sympathize!


  2. Very nice post. I certainly love this website. Continue the
    good work!

    • Thank you so much for the encouragement.

      Best wishes,


    • So glad. It’s wonderful to have encouragement.

      Best wishes,


  3. Hi Nancy,
    I am truly dumb-struck by how GORGEOUS this is!! As I can eat neither chocolate nor cheese, I am rethinking the migraines they may cause and wondering if they may be a poor price to pay for a slice of this wonderful cake!!

    And you wondered what to do with your time after your retirement????


  4. […] Cheesecake countdown […]

    • I think a passion for cooking begins with a love of eating food that is delicious and beautiful to look at. It has been said that we eat first with our eyes. My passion for cooking began with curiousity about how beautiful and delicious food was made, and that led me to take a cooking course. Once I did, I found that I really enjoyed learning cooking techniques, and wanted to continue to learn. These days with so many cooking shows on television, and instruction on the Web, learning is even easier. Cooking is something we have to do every day, so it might as well bring us pleasure.

      Best wishes,


  5. Wow..the cheesecake looks beautiful, Nancy! It must’ve been a big hit at the annual Christmas men’s group pot luck! 🙂

    I may just have to take some time during my Christmas break from school and try out some of these wonderful recipes that you have posted. They all sound absolutely delicious.

    Your blog is absolutely AMAZING and it is a joy to read to read of all your adventures in cooking – keep it up! Hope you don’t mind that I have recommended this blog to some of my friends as well.


    • Hi Genieve –

      Support from friends like you really makes a difference!



  6. Great issue, I didn’t thought reading this would be so awesome when I read the url!!

    • I really appreciate your encouragement. Thank you so much for taking time to write.


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