Easter, Cake Creations, Serving and Hospitality

Before we got married, the opportunity to be hospitable was one of the things my husband and I were most excited for as we embarked on our journey together. We are both passionate about developing deep relationships with others, having good conversations and being able to serve people with good food without the need for them to prepare, cook or to help clean at the end. Now that we had our own place to be able to do this, we were keen to make it a regular part of our marriage and relationship with others. We spent our first year of married life inviting people around for dinner about once a week, and we loved the opportunities that sitting around a dinner table and sharing food together brought.

This year has looked quite different for us in terms of with work/uni and church commitments, so our hospitality has looked different too. Quite recently we have loved taking Monday public holidays as an opportunity to invite people around for dinner after church on a Sunday night (with the benefit of not having to go to work early the next morning!). A few years ago, there used to be quite a culture of everyone going and grabbing some take-away and heading to someone’s place to eat and chat – to have fellowship with one another. However as the life stage of our congregation has changed, this culture became quite impractical for most people. So we decided to make the most of the Monday public holiday opportunity by not only opening up our house to others, but by also providing the food. Our place is not big, and cooking food for a large number of people has it’s challenges (and failings), but to see the opportunities it provides for people to have quality conversations with one another, and to see the unifying love of Christ  in action- that makes it every bit worthwhile!

The most recent opportunity for this was on Easter Sunday. We had a pizza dinner, and for dessert, I took the opportunity of the extended long weekend to try my hand at writing my very  own recipe! So truth is, I found this incredible looking cake on Pinterest, which is served at the Cheesecake Factory (in the US), which I have been lucky enough to visit once – but they definitely did not have this cake on the menu then, because if they did I would have ordered it! It is called the Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake. And of course I couldn’t find a recipe for it anywhere. So looking at the layers, I did a little research and planned how I would recreate it.

 Now this cake was quite the creation, taking many hours (and starting the day beforehand). But buy was it delicious! Not ridiculously sickly or sweet (but still best in small serves). It essentially has 4 layers, chocolate fudge cake, ganache, baked oreo and vanilla cheesecake and a cookie mousse – then of course the icing/ganache layer on top and an array of chocolate egg goodness!
If you want to try recreating it yourself, you can find the recipe below, along with some photos that are bound to make any chocolate-lover’s mouth water! (And I have no idea if this tastes anything like the real version, but I can promise it still tastes pretty damn good!)

LAYER 1 – CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE

Ingredients:
60g Chocolate
50g Butter
1 egg, separated
15g Sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
20g flour
1/8 tsp baking powder

Method:
> Preheat oven to 130 degrees Celcius (265 F) and grease and line a springform tin
> Melt chocolate and butter together in a saucepan at low heat (or however you best    like to melt chocolate)
> Beat egg yolk, sugar, vanilla until thick and pale
> Add egg yolk mixture to chocolate mixture
> Whisk egg whites until they form stiff peaks
> Fold flour and baking powder into chocolate mixture, then fold egg whites
> Bake until firm (15-25 min)

LAYER 2 – CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Ingredients:
200g chocolate (Cadbury is my favourite, I actually used Whittakers  when I made this because I wanted a slightly higher cocoa solids content than Cadbury milk but not a dark chocolate taste, but it separated and I had to save it, so maybe stick with a 1:1 mix of Cadbury milk and dark)
100g cream
1 teaspoon sugar

Method:
> Dissolve sugar in cream, heating in a saucepan over low-med heat
> Once boiling, turn off heat, add chocolate and stir.
> Allow to cool to room temperature

LAYER 3 – BAKED OREO AND VANILLA CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:
340g Cream Cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 TBs flour
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Packet of Oreos

Method:
> Preheat (or increase) oven temperature to 150 degrees C (300 F) and grease and line a springform tin (the same size as used for the cake base)
> Mix cream cheese, sugar and flour at low speed (high speed incorporates air into the mixture which causes the cheesecake to crack when cooking)
> Add sour cream, eggs and vanilla and mix until combined
> Layer mixture into springform pan with Oreos
> Bake for 30 min in a water bath ( I place the tin inside a baking dish with about 2-3 cm of water in it). Turn oven off and leave to cool with door closed
> Once cool, transfer to fridge to chill (at least 2 hours in fridge)

LAYER 4 – COOKIES AND CREAM MOUSSE

Ingredients:
6g powdered gelatin
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup milk
2 TBs sugar
60g white chocolate
1 egg yolk
400mls heavy cream
1 packet oreos

Method:
> Mix hot water, milk and sugar
> Stir in gelatin
> Melt white chocolate (using double boiler) and mix into gelatin mixture
> whick egg yolk, add to mixture
> Whip cream, fold into mixture
> Crush oreos and stir in to mixture

 LAYER 5 – CHOCOLATE ICING AND GANACHE

Note: In making this, I found the icing really hard to spread, as it kept pulling off the sides of the cake. So whilst I intended for it to be completely covered in icing, my final result was the sides covered in icing, and another half-batch of ganache (as above but with a higher cream:chocolate ratio to make it more runny) made to cover the top of the cake. If making again, I would probably just double the batch of ganache and use it to cover the cake entirely. But here is the icing recipe anyway because it was delicious. Plus you may have more like spreading than me!

Ingredients:
1 cup icing sugar
2 TBs cocoa powder
40g butter, softened
1TBs milk

Method:
Mix all ingredients together with mixer

Assembly

This is really the part I didn’t want to write about, because truth is, I don’t really have any specific  instruction or advice as to how I put it all together. As you can see from the photos, I did it layer by layer; spreading the ganache over the cake, waiting for it to set, carefully transferring the cooled cheesecake on top, trimming off the overhanging sides with a knife, spreading over the mousse, allowing it to firm up (slightly), and covering with icing/ganache! To finish, I sprinkled crushed oreas over the top, and placed some Oreo thins alongside the Oreo Easter eggs for decoration.

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