Sun Pastries with Nutella

A couple weeks ago I came across a funny quote on Facebook: Stop trying to make everybody happy. You’re not a jar of Nutella.

It put a smile on my face – I mean, who doesn’t love Nutella?! – but at the same time it got me thinking: how often do we try to do just that? How often do we do everything we can to fulfill the needs and wants of people around us without even considering our own? We want to see those we love happy and want to make their lives easier. That’s love, that’s what spouses, parents, siblings, and friends do, right? But needs are funny. They don’t just go away, they kind of keep regenerating themselves instead. You take care of one, turn around to take a breath, and another three are already waiting for you, tapping foot impatiently. Pretty soon you feel just as a puppet in everyone else’s show, and don’t even have time to realize how miserable you are.

You can’t please everyone, and if you try, it always backfires. If you try to make everybody happy, more often than not nobody is happy at the end. Plus, people pleasing has its flip side: It’s resentment, and it finds its way to the surface one way or another. You can’t manage everyone else’s happiness. You can only manage your own, and in my case, even that not very well sometimes 🙂 There is really only one person you’re able to make happy: yourself.

If it means putting on your hiking boots and spending the day in the mountains, please do so. If it means taking a nice long bath instead of cooking on a Sunday, dive right in. (Nobody ever died because of a lack of cooked Sunday dinner.) In my case it means firing up the oven and baking, even though it’s finally not raining, and the weeds are taking over my yard. There were times when I’d worry what the neighbors might think; these days I think my neighbor the master gardener doesn’t give a hoot about my unkempt yard, because this way her gorgeous garden looks even better. And even if it isn’t so – I say life is too short to worry about other people’s expectations too much!

Figure out what brings sunshine into your life, and go for it. After all, we all have only one shot at this. Do it right.

Nutella Sun Pastries

Sun pastries with Nutella (makes 8 pastries)

Yeast Dough:
  • 3 cups (390 g, 13.5 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (100 g, 3.5 oz.) granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon to sweeten the milk
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, room temp
  • ¼ cup (55 g, 2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup (150 ml) whole milk, lukewarm
  • 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast

+ 4 – 5 tablespoons Nutella

1 egg yolk + 2 tablespoons milk for egg wash

Method:
  1. Combine milk with 1 teaspoon sugar and yeast; set aside for 15 minutes to activate the yeast. Place all the other ingredients for the dough into a bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook.
  2. When the yeast mixture looks foamy, add it to the bowl. On a low speed, knead the dough until it forms a ball (I had to add about 2 tablespoons more flour; it depends on the size of your eggs. If the mixture looks dry, add milk/water, if it’s too moist, add flour, one tablespoon at a time.) When the dough forms a ball, knead it for additional 15 minutes, until it’s smooth, soft, and elastic. Transfer it to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until it doubles in volume.
  3. Prepare two baking sheets and line them with parchment paper.
  4. On a floured surface, divide the risen dough roughly in half. Cover one half and set it aside for now.
  5. Roll out the other half into a square about 10 x 10 inches (25 x 25 cm) and 1/6 inch (6mm) thick. With a biscuit cutter or a glass, cut out circles about 3 inches in diameter. Place them onto the baking sheets with plenty of room between them (I did 4 circles per sheet).
  6. With a sharp knife, make cuts into each circle, as if cutting them into eights, but making sure not to cut all the way to the edges, and stopping about ½ inch (1 cm) from the edge of the circle. Take each resulting tip and turn it outward, forming little sun rays. When you are done, you will have 7 – 8 sun shapes with an empty circle in the middle. Cover them with a towel and set aside.
  7. Take the remaining half of the dough and roll it out into a rectangle 1/6 inch (6 mm) thick. Spread the dough with 4 – 5 tablespoons Nutella, and beginning from the long side, roll it up jelly roll style, pinching the edges. With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 7 – 8 equal pieces, and place each piece into the empty space of your little sun pastries on the baking sheet, pressing down lightly. (It is OK if the Nutella “snails” don’t fill-up the circles completely, they will get bigger during the second rise.) Cover the pastries and let them rise again for about 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 °F (185 °C).
  8. Brush the pastries with an egg yolk mixed with milk, and bake for 13 – 15 minutes until golden brown.

Nutella Sun Pastries 2

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Lemon Cake with Creamy Wine Frosting and Grapes

There was a time in my life when I used to swear I’d never drink. I couldn’t imagine why would anyone want to slowly ruin their liver and willingly accept premature wrinkles and dark circles under their eyes when they didn’t need to. Then I got older, got married and had kids and many of those I’ll never/I’d never resolutions flew right out of the window. Life has a way of teaching you, that’s all I say.

So this post will be my little tribute to wine, my “how do I love thee” poem, My Ode to Joy that wine brings to my life. These days I think wine is just plain awesome and there is not much it can’t do. Let’s see: It makes us feel beautiful. Happy. Loving. Fearless. (And stupid, but that’s only when you don’t know when to stop.)

But mostly, at least in my case, it just helps us relax and let go. They say wine improves with age, well, I improve with wine. Pretty much every day I run around like a crazy woman all day, trying to be everything for everybody, and no matter how hard I try, I never seem to juggle it all. Either I’m loving and my house is a mess, or the house is spotless, I checked all the boxes in my to-do list for the day, and I even made a delicious three course dinner, but no one actually wants to sit down at the table with me and eat it, because I reached my limit, yelled at everybody around, and now they’re all hiding in the trenches.

But wine makes everything miraculously better. Half a glass is all it takes, and suddenly I don’t care all that much. I haven’t mopped in two weeks? So what. Nobody’s coming over, nobody will know. Whatever. My boys love it when their mother is in the state of whatever. It means nobody is harping at them for leaving socks all over the house or wanting them to get rid of the empty toilet paper roll that’s been living its sad and lonely life on the floor of their bathroom for the past ten days. (Parents, please, explain this one to me if you can. I.just.don’t.get it. Some time ago I even conducted a little experiment entitled “How long can a toilet paper roll stay on the bathroom floor”? After a month a reached the conclusion that somehow they just must not see it. I sighed heavily, picked it up, threw it away,and poured myself a glass. This too shall pass.)

I love cooking with wine and pour it in everything from hearty vegetable soups, risotto, to meat gravy and pasta sauces, but I’ve never tried to use it in a dessert. Until now. When I was stirring  the wine crème that was supposed to be a base for the frosting, I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out, but luckily it all worked out pretty well in the end. The yellow cake has a hint of  lemon in it, and together with creamy wine frosting and sweet fresh grapes it created a lovely cake: Light, fruity, and summery. Make it, and then pour yourself some wine, go sit in the sun, and have a slice. Cheers! Life is good, and wine and cakes make it even better.

Wine-grape cake

Lemon Cake with Creamy Wine Frosting and Grapes

For each of the two layers:
  •  4 medium eggs
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 135 g (5 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 70 g (2.5 oz.) cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 6 tablespoons Limoncello liqueur
Filling:
  •  500 ml (2 cups) white wine
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 40 g (3 tablespoons) cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 400 ml (13 oz.) heavy whipping cream
  • 10 g (1 ½ packets) Knox unflavored gelatin

+ 2 lb. mixed seedless grapes, preferably small, or cut in half; powdered sugar

Wine-grape cake 2

Method:
  1. To make each of the cake layers: Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line an 9×13” baking pan with parchment paper. (I used a cake pan with removable bottom, slightly bigger than 9×13).
  2. With the mixer on high speed, cream eggs with sugar for about 5 minutes until light yellow and thick. Gradually add hot water and continue whipping. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients, and carefully combine them with the egg-sugar mixture. Use a spatula and be sure not to deflate the eggs. Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes, until the top springs back when touched.Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  4. Make the second layer in the same way.
  5. To prepare the creamy wine filling: Mix gelatin powder with ¼ cup water and set aside to “bloom”.
  6. Combine 400 ml (13 oz.) white wine, sugar, and vanilla. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  7. Meanwhile whisk cornstarch, egg yolks, and remaining wine together. Add couple of tablespoons of hot wine/sugar mixture to temper the yolk mixture, and then pour it into the sweetened wine in the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
  8. Dissolve the bloomed gelatin in a hot pudding, stirring vigorously. Cool the pudding – gelatin mixture, stirring occasionally. While the pudding is cooling, wash and cut the grapes, and set aside.
  9. Line your pan with clean sheet of parchment paper, and place first cake layer in. Sprinkle the cake with 3 tablespoons of lemon liqueur.
  10. When the mixture is cool and starting to set, whip heavy cream with 3 tablespoons powdered sugar until soft peaks form, and mixing lightly with a spatula, carefully combine it with the pudding. Mix in the grapes.
  11. Spoon the filling onto a cake, smooth it out, and place the second layer on top, pressing lightly. Sprinkle the top cake layer with remaining lemon liqueur. Chill the cake until the creamy wine filling is set, at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  12. When ready to serve, sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar and decorate it with grapes.

Traditional Czech Kolache (Chodské koláče)

You know how when you were little everything was always better at the neighbors? Neighbor kids had better (and more!) toys, could stay up late when you weren’t allowed to, and their Mom cooked way better than yours. Even if she just smeared some butter on a slice of bread for you, it was the best bread and butter you’ve ever had!

So for this week’s recipe we’ll go to the (Slovak) neighbors, the Czech folks.  For a very long time, we used to share the same country, and we have a rich common history together, including many shared culinary traditions. Both Slovak and Czech people love leavened baked goods, and can work miracles with flour and yeast. Little old grandmas in tiny villages don’t need a scale – they just dump an entire sack of flour onto a wooden block, crack in couple of eggs from chickens scratching in their backyard, add some melted butter and yeast bloomed in milk, and then roll up their sleeves and get to work. Forget kitchen mixer – they make do with just their own wrinkled hands and lots of elbow grease. After years and years in the kitchen, they understand how the dough behaves and what it should look like. They might not know exactly why it does what it does, but years of practice taught them what works and what doesn’t. They bake by feel, by sight, by smell – the same way their mothers and grandmothers did. Recipes scribbled on yellowed pages of an old notebook are passed on from generation to generation and cherished as the biggest treasure. Crumpled records of life passing by.

Chances are, you’ve already heard about kolache. But despite what many Americans think, kolache aren’t just yeast goods filled with various sweet fillings. In both Czech and Slovak kolach is a much broader term, encompassing many different dessert-type creations. Cake, pie, tart – everything can be kolach under right circumstances! And it is koláč (singular) and koláče (plural); there is no such thing as kolaches – just have to throw it out there.These particular kolache, typical of a geographical region in western Bohemia, are made from leavened dough. Big rounds of thinly rolled dough are filled with combination of a sweet farmers’ cheese, poppy-seed filling, and thick plum preserves, and decorated with raisins and blanched almonds. The fillings can be either piped on in alternating stripes, or the entire round is given a generous layer of farmers’ cheese, and then it’s decorated with poppy-seed and plum filling. Either way, the combination of three – colored filling is as beautiful as it is delicious, and many bakers don’t even stop there: they spread the kolache with combination of whipping cream/sour cream while they’re still hot coming from the oven to make them moist and even more toothsome.  At the end you have these beautiful, soft rounds of deliciousness to sink your teeth into!

It turns out, there are things that truly are better at the neighbors. They say good fences make good neighbors, and it may be so. But still, it pays off not to build our fences too high – not so much so we can see what our neighbors are up to, but more so we can learn from each other and share what’s worth sharing. And kolache are the best example of that.

chodske kolace

Traditional Czech Kolache (Chodské koláče; makes 10 – 12 big rounds)

Dough:
  • 4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 2 cups (500 ml; 16 oz.) lukewarm milk, divided
  • 200 g (7 oz.) white sugar
  • 1 egg + 3 egg yolks
  • 1 kg (2 lbs.) all-purpose flour
  • 250 g (8 oz., 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Fillings:
Sweet Farmers’ Cheese Filling:
  • 1 kg (2 lbs.) Farmers’ Cheese (see Note)
  • 1 egg yolk + 2 egg whites
  • 200 g (7 oz.) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • (up to) 1/3 cup whipping cream (optional; to make the filling more spreadable)
Poppy-seed Filling:
  • 250 g (9 oz.) ground poppy seeds
  • 250 g (9 oz.) powdered sugar
  • 100 g (3.5 oz.) honey
  • 1 tablespoon of tart jam (raspberry, currant)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ – ½ cup milk (or cream)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Plum Filling:
  • 1 ½ cups dried plums, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • water as needed to process the plums
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons rum (or rum flavoring)
Glaze (optional):
  • ¼ cup each sour cream and whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

+ raisins (soaked in rum/water); blanched almonds – for decoration
1 egg (beaten) – for egg wash

chodske kolace 2

Method:
  1. To make the dough: Combine lukewarm milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar, and set aside to activate the yeast. Place all the remaining ingredients for the dough into a bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with a hook. After 10 – 15 minutes, when the yeast mixture looks foamy, add it to the ingredients in the bowl. Knead at a low speed for about 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic. Transfer it to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm spot for 45 – 60 minutes until it doubles in volume.
  2. While the dough is rising, prepare the fillings. For the farmers’ cheese filling, mix farmers’ cheese, sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon juice and zest. Beat egg whites until firm peaks form, and lightly fold them into the filling. Lastly, add as much cream until the filling is smooth and easily spreadable. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. For the poppy-seed filing, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and warm them up over a low heat, stirring constantly. If the filling seems too thin, add a small handful of cookie crumbs. The filling will firm up as it cools, and it needs to be thinner so it is easier to “paint” with. Set aside.
  4. For the plum filling, process the plums with water until thick mixture is achieved. Transfer to a bowl and thin with a little rum/water if needed – again, you need the right consistency so the mixture will pass easily through an opening in a Ziploc bag when decorating the kolache. Set aside.
  5. Turn the risen dough onto a work surface, punch it down, and divide it into 10 – 12 equal parts, about 200 g (7 oz.) each. Keeping the other covered, roll each one into a circle. With your fingers, form an edge, and coat the edge with egg wash. Transfer the circle onto a parchment paper.
  6. Spread the entire circle with farmers’ cheese filling. Transfer a little of the poppy-seed and plum filling into two Ziploc bags and “paint” the round to your liking. Decorate with almonds and raisins.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Bake the kolache for about 20 minutes until the edges are nice golden brown.
  8. For the glaze, mix cream, sour cream, and sugar, and coat the kolache while they’re still hot.
Note:

You can buy farmers’ cheese in Russian/European grocery stores. Some higher end grocery stores such as Whole Foods Market carry it as well. Farmers’ cheese is thicker than ricotta, so I don’t think ricotta would be a good substitute, but you can easily make farmers’ cheese at home, which is what I do now. The bonus is I have leftover whey from making the cheese, which freezes well and is wonderful for making pancakes or yeast baked goods.

Homemade Farmers’ Cheese
  • ½ gallon whole milk (pasteurized is OK, but not ultra-pasteurized), or a combination of milk and a full-fat buttermilk
  • scant ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Heat the milk over a low heat, stirring occasionally. When it’s close to a boil, take it off the heat and stir in salt and vinegar. Immediately you’ll see curds forming on the surface. Let the milk mixture stand for about 15 minutes undisturbed, and then drain it through a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. (Reserve at least some of the whey!). Lift the cheese cloth up, wrap it around the cheese, twisting to expel the moisture. Store the farmers’ cheese in the refrigerator. (Makes about 1½  – 2 cups cheese).

chodske kolace 3

Brazilian Cheese Puffs

This weekend we celebrate motherhood – the hardest and most rewarding job there is. I skip through snippets of memories tucked in the back of my mind over the years. First tooth. First words. First steps. Cute little presents made by the tiny hands, such as this pink birthday card with a picture of a pig in the front, signed in big shaky letters: Love, Daniel. I still have it, and I still don’t have the slightest idea what the darn pig was doing there, but I’ve decided to take it as a compliment. Pigs are very smart animals, after all.

I remember laughs and tears, and lots and lots of learning. Learning to hold, learning to let go. Learning to hold back when you ask them for a little more respect and they tell you with an arrogant teenage eye roll: “So you gave birth to me. So what? Big deal.” (For the record, said son is still alive. I still love him and he now claims he doesn’t remember any verbal squabble in which he’d utter a similar statement, and swears he’d never dream of saying something like that to his Mother).

Yes, we give birth to them. And then find out we can go three days and three nights in a row without any real sleep to speak of. We can answer hundred whys in an hour. We can live through a half an hour long bus ride all smelly and covered in vomit, because the rickety ride made the munchkin sick, so he barfed all over you, himself, and his stroller. We can read the same story about a little mole over and over again, until hordes of fat black rodents haunt us in our dreams.

Yes, we can.

It’s funny. When you’re in the midst of it, the days can seem endless. You count minutes till bedtime, convinced you really won’t make it this time. And then suddenly they’re taller than you, and you’re wondering where the hell has the time go. You see the awesome people they’re becoming – in part thanks to you and in part despite everything you’ve managed to mess up as a parent, and you know without a shadow of a doubt It’s been all worth it, and you’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Barf and all.

So here’s to motherhood. A wonderful experience, powered by love, coffee, and wine. But mostly love.

Cheese puffs

Brazilian Cheese Puffs

(recipe makes about 25 puffs)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup mild tasting oil (or butter)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 oz. ( 280 g) tapioca flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1½ cups (6 oz.) parmesan cheese (or any other cheese, grated)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 °F (230 °C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk with oil (butter) until very hot but not boiling; take off the heat.
  3. Transfer the hot milk/oil in a bowl of your food processor or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add all the tapioca to the milk/butter mixture; stir until well combined. The mixture should be thick, smooth, and gelatinous. Let the mixture cool until lukewarm.
  4. Gradually add eggs to the lukewarm mixture, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Lastly, beat in the cheese. The mixture will be very soft, almost like a cake batter.
  6. With a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, portion out rounded mounds on a parchment lined sheets, spacing them at least an inch apart.
  7. Put the baking sheets into the oven, and immediately turn down the temp to 350 °F ( 175 °C). Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until the puffs are dry on the outside and are nice golden brown.
  8. Let cool slightly and serve with wine.

Cheese puffs 2

These little cheese puffs are a must for those “it’s wine o’clock” moments. They’re similar to French Gougères, but better, because unlike their French counterparts, these little munchies are made with gluten-free tapioca flour, which means even folks with allergies, such as Mr. Photographer can have them. We all know the wining moments don’t apply only to Mothers. Sometimes it’s just better for any parent to pour himself/herself a glass, and shove a cheese puff in his/her mouth, before yelling out saying something that he/she wouldn’t be proud of five minutes later. These little balls are best steaming hot from the oven, when they’re crispy on the outside, and soft and gooey on the inside. But they also freeze really well, which means you can (and should!) always have a first aid in the form of bottle of wine and some cheese balls at home!

Cheese Puffs 3

White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake

Do you tend to see things in black and white? Are you all-or-nothing kind of a person? I know I am. I come from a family of high achievers, where anything but perfection was frowned upon. It taught me to focus and work hard, but also made it hard for me to just let go and relax. Having high expectations of yourself is fine. However, if those same expectations keep you from trying new things, and essentially keep you from having fun in life, that’s another story. There are so many things I wouldn’t even touch in the past, because, well, if I couldn’t be the best, then what’s the point in trying? So many perfectly good cakes ended up in the trash, just because they weren’t pretty enough! For years now, I’ve been trying to overcome these patterns, and intentionally look for all the (fifty) shades between black and white. I like to refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist/aspiring good-enoughist these days. Good-enoughist is most likely not even a word, and as a linguist it pains me to see it typed, but I’m going to leave it, because it expresses so well the struggle we recovering perfectionists go through 🙂

Cheesecake has always been my stumbling block in baking. I love everything about cheesecake – it’s quick to whip up, can be (even has to be!) made ahead, and most of all, it tastes wonderful – so rich, creamy, and decadent. The thing is, I’ve rarely been able to make it without cracking. I’ve tried countless recipes and many different baking methods, I even consulted pastry chefs, but more often than not, the little stinker still cracks up on me. If not during baking, then while it cools.

I know cranberries in a cheesecake are a little strange this time of year. It’s something to be served around Thanksgiving! But when I stumbled upon this recipe, it was a love at first sight, and there was no way I’d be able to wait seven more months to make it. I was just thankful I still had a bag of cranberries from the last Fall in the freezer 🙂 I really like how the tartness of cranberries balances out the sweet taste of chocolate, but if you want to make the cheesecake a little more season-appropriate, I’m sure raspberries or cherries in place of cranberries would be just as delicious!

So today I proudly present to you my beautifully cracked masterpiece. I had fun with the swirl pattern, and can’t wait to play with it more in the future. The consistency is excellent, and the taste is just right and not too sweet. And the crack? I like to think it adds a little character and says the cake is definitely homemade. Maybe I’ll learn to bake perfect cheesecakes when I grow up. And maybe not. Perfection is overrated anyway. Let’s just play with flavors and textures, create wonderful smells in the kitchen, lick our fingers and have fun doing so!

White chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake

White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake

adapted from http://bethcakes.com

Crust:
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (I used gluten-free version)
  • ½  cups pecans, chopped
  • ½ unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
Filling:
  • 2 packages (8 oz., 226 g each) full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 6 oz. (226 g) vanilla yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs + 2 extra egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free flour, and since GF flours tend to be lighter, I used a little more)
Cranberry swirl:
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup water (+ more for pureeing)

img-2015-04-12-6266

Method:
  1. To make the crust: Mix all the ingredients in your food processor, and press the mixture into a standard springform pan with removable bottom.
  2. Prebake at 350 °F (175 °C) for about 10 minutes and let cool completely.
  3. For the cranberry swirl layer, cook all the ingredients over a medium heat for about 10 – 15 minutes, until the cranberries burst open and the mixture thickens. Let cool slightly, and then process the mixture in a blender/food processor until smooth (I needed to add a little water). The cranberry puree should be somewhat thick, but still pourable. Set aside.
  4. For the chocolate – cheese layer: Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Put small pan with water on the lower rack in the oven. Mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Add the yogurt and melted chocolate, combine. One by one add the eggs and the egg yolks. Lastly, add the flour and mix until combined.
  5. Pour the chocolate – cream cheese filling into a cooled crust. Tap the springform pan couple of times on the counter to release the air bubbles. Place the springform pan on a big baking sheet. Swirl the cranberry mixture into the chocolate – cream cheese layer. Bake for about 45 minutes until still a little wobbly. Turn the oven off, open the door slightly, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for an hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, let cool, and refrigerate.

img-2015-04-12-6269