Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pure Spider Oreos!

I used to get asked a lot why I moved down here, and the (simplistic) response of "to learn Spanish" always received a similar response, no matter whether I was talking with Argentines or other native Spanish-speaking foreigners: "but we/they speak terrible Spanish here!" I don't know about good/bad Spanish, I'm not such a big fan of talking about "purity" of language (nor of much else, though with drugs and the food supply I suppose it can be pretty important. I've always found the FDA's requirements of "no more than 8 spider parts per pound" a bit off-putting), and I get a little annoyed when Argentines tell me that British English is the "pure" form of English, which they all supposedly study here in school but that somehow produces an accent that sounds nothing like a British one. It is true, however, that in their own language Argentines use a ridiculous amount of lunfardo (slang), much taken from Italian because of the quantity of Italians that have immigrated here over the past century. There also seems to be a propensity for using words not heard in the Spanish-speaking world outside of Argentina. A factura is a pastry, although the word factura typically means invoice (Argentines use it for both...can you fax me the croissant for my croissants? Great thanks.) And although businesses called panaderias and lavaderias are found all throughout Latin America, the factureria, a place that makes facturas, is a distinctly Argentine invention, not to be outdone by the paraguerias (umbrella stores), colchonerias (mattress stores), and cuchillerias (knive-selling stores).

And certain people around here turned 30, though I don´t even know how it´s possible that I know people that old. I thought that by the time you were thirty you were supposed to have stuff more or less figured out with, I don´t know, a house and stuff (I think I also thought that 25 was the ideal time to have kids? Let´s just say, at least in my case, umm...) On a bit of a heavier note, sometimes I see people here in the hospitals who are, you know, 26, with 6 kids, and I cannot even begin to imagine it (and I´m seeing them in the hospital because they have HIV...)

But back to birthdays, a cake had to be made, and as the birthday person´s favorite two desserts seem to be cheesecake and brownies, it was not a very difficult thought process to decide to combine the two (nor was it original-- I had seen this ridiculous invention here).

And although it looks like a lot of work, it actually wasn't-- I hardly planned it well, and was rushing to get to a workshop in Varela, a township an hour and a half outside of the city (an hour and a half in bus, but worlds away-- the first time I went out there I asked the woman sitting next to me if she could tell me where to get off, and because I was afraid I would pronounce the name wrong I showed her the address-- to which she responded that she couldn't read. Oops. Slap myself on the forehead.)

At any rate, this cake is wonderful and the perfect kind of ridiculous for a birthday, and it was declared "the best cake I've ever eaten in my life," by Chako [really named Francisco, because he grew up in Chaco (don't even ask about the spelling inconsistency), a province in Northeastearn Argentina.] And it's not a lot of work, though I would definitely make the brownies the days before and chill them in the fridge before cutting them. And I would not substitute the oreos in the crust for anything else, I once considered using Argentine brand oreo-cookie like things, and I know some people like using chocolate wafers or teddy grams, but I really don't find the oreos to be substitutable here. And I definitely don´t find the rainbow birthday candles substitutable.

Brownie-Oreo Ridiculous Cheesecake

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the Brownies:

2.5 oz. (70 gr.) unsweetened chocolate

6 Tbsp. (which is 3 oz. or 85 gr.) butter

scant cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9-inch square baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.

Place the butter and chocolate together in a heat-safe bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie; you want the water level fairly low so it doesn't touch the bowl above), stirring occasionally. When the chocolate is almost all the way melted, remove the bowl from over the pan and continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Don´t overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles.

Cool brownies, ideally in the fridge over night (easier to cut that way), then cut them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake. Add cubes to cake batter as directed below.

For the Oreo Crust:

12 oz. crushed oreos [buzz them in a food processor briefly, leaving lots of chunky bits, or stick the oreos in a ziplock bag and, using a rolling pin, take out all of your aggression at the fact that this country somehow can´t have a functioning coin system on those ill-fated cookies. Or use wine bottle (try not to break it by banging too hard on the counter)..]

1/2 c unsalted butter (1 stick, which is 8 Tbsp, or 4oz, or 113 gr.), melted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

small pinch salt

Stir everything together and, using your fingers, press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-in springform pan. It won't be perfect and the sides will crumble a bit, just press the fallen bits in again and try to more or less evenly distribute the mass. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

For the Cheesecake:

21 oz. (600 gr.) cream cheese, softened

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups brownie cubes (from recipe above)

Make crumb crust as directed above. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Make the filling-- beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken. Put in the fridge to cool at least 4 hours.

When completely cool, top with chocolate ganache:

For the Ganache:

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 ounces butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon sugar

Grind the chocolate into powder in the food processor, scald the butter and cream in a saucepan (or in a Pyrex cup in the microwave). With the machine running, pour the hot cream/butter mixture slowly through the feed tube onto the chocolate. Blend until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down sides once or twice. Add the extract and sugar and process until smooth. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill until ready to serve.

Torta Ridicula de Brownie-Oreo Cheesecake

Adaptado de Smitten Kitchen

Para los Brownies:

70 gr. chocolate amargo (sin azucar)

85 gr. mantequilla

una tazita de azucar

2 huevos

1/2 cucharita de vanilla

1/4 cucharita de sal

1/2 taza de harina

Precalienta el horno a 180°C. Cubre un molde de 22 cm. con papel aluminio, extendiendolo encima de los lados del molde. Amantecar con mantequilla el papel aluminio.

Coloca la mantequilla y el chocolate en un bol seguro contra el calor en un baño maria (no quieres que el agua alcance el bol arriba asi que no pongas tanta agua abajo), revolviendo de vez en cuando. Cuando el chocolate este casi derretido, quita el bol del baño maria y revuelve el chocolate hasta que este completamente derretido. Echa el azucar y revuelvelo bien. Añade los huevos y la vanilla y revuelve. Echa la harina y sal, mezcalo bien. Unta la masa en el molde preparado.

Hornea por 25 a 30 minutos o hasta que metiendo un cuchillo en el centro salga con migas mojadas. (No los hornees demasiado.) Dejalos enfriar, despues sacalos del molde usando el papel aluminio.

Enfria los brownies, es una buena idea dejarlos en la heladera por la noche (ya que sera mas fácil cortarlos), despues picarlos en pedacitos de 2 cm. Echalos a la masa del cheesecake.

Para la Masa de Oreo: 

300 gr. (3 paqueticos, si comes una o dos de las galleticas..) oreos aplastadas [muelelas en la procesadora brevemente, dejando muchos pedazos grandecitos, o coloca las oreos en una bolsa de plastico y, usando un rodillo, saca toda tu rabia por el hecho que la ciudad no puede tener un sistema de monedas que funciona y usala contra las pobres galleticas. O usa una botella de vino (trata de evitar quebrarla por pegarle demasiado duro al superficie)...]

1/2 taza (113 gr.) de mantequilla, derretida

1/2 taza de azucar blanca

una pizquita de sal

Mezcla todo junto y, usando los dedos, presiona la mezcla hacia el fondo y los lados de un molde desmontable de 22 cm. No va a estar perfecto y los lados van a caer un poquito, solo presiona los pedazitos otra vez y trata de crear una distribucion nivelada. Llenala con la masa de cheesecake inmediatamente o dejala en la heladera hasta 2 horas antes de llenarla.

Para el Cheesecake:

600 gr. queso crema (yo uso Finlandia)

4 huevos grandecitos

una cucharita de vanilla

una tasa de azucar

2 tazas de cubitos de brownie (desde la receta arriba)

Haz la masa de oreo. Precalienta el horno a 180°C.

Haz el relleno de cheesecake: Bate el queso crema hasta que este suave y incorpora los huevos, uno por uno, y despues la vanilla y el azucar. Batelo bien pero trata de no incorporar tanto aire a la mezcla asi que si estas usando una batidora usalo a velocidad baja.

Añade los cubitos del brownie (si quieres que los pedazitos se quedan intactos, incorporalos muy suavemente), y echa la mezcla a la masa de oreo. Hornea la torta por 45 minutos, o hasta que este cuajada alrededor pero todavia se mueve en el centro. Dejala enfriar en la heladera por lo menos 4 horas.

Cuando este completamente enfria, echa la salsa de chocolate encima:

Para la salsa de chocolate:

85 gr. chocolate semi-amargo, picado

50 gr. mantequilla

1/4 tasa de crema de leche

1/2 cucharita de vanilla

una cuchara de azucar

Calienta la crema de leche y la mantequilla en una olla chiquita. Cuando esten a punto de hervir, echalas a una batidora donde ya hayas colocado el chocolate y el azucar. Batela hasta que este completemente suave, y despues echa la vanilla y batela otra vez. Por otro lado, si tienes una batidora de inmersion puedes hacer esto pero quitando la olla del fuego despues de calentar la mantequilla y la leche, echando el chocolate y el azucar alli, y batiendola alli en la olla hasta que este suave. Despues echa la vanilla y batela otra vez. Cuando la salsa este tibia pero no fria echala encima de la torta cuando esta ya este fria. Devuelvela a la heladera otro ratico, hasta cuando la vayas a servir.

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