Recipe: Creme Brûlée Cheesecake Bars!

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I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.
About expectations of women in this culture.
About how I am a concoction of all the experiences I've been through and circumstances I've been in. It's like I'm a mash up of strict parenting, rebellious streaks (oh trust me I was very naughty), expectations of being a preacher's daughter, awesome girlfriends who each brought a different lesson to my life, a few low paying jobs, bittersweet experiences like dealing with Ashraf's cancer scare and good experiences like skydiving and travelling.

Then while thinking about good experiences, it got me thinking about all the reeeeaaallly good desserts I've eaten and what flavours I love. I really love cheesecake. Rich, creamy, decadent goodness! And creme brûlée. That crackly sugar, that sound when you initially crack your spoon into the bowl. And when the custard is just set and not too eggy. Wowwww. Oh god. It's making me hungry. It's really godsent when I get both cheesecake and creme brûlée all mashed into one!

And not forgetting how I love to play with torches. If I have a choice I will want to torch everything I make, just so I get to torch things. I have the inclination to think that it's because when I was younger, my mom said not to play with fire because it's dangerous. So naturally I want to do whatever she said NOT to! Haha!

If you live in Singapore, you can get small baking torches at Phoon Huat/ TOTT/ good departmental stores like Tangs, amongst other places.

Crushed cookies, butter, flour and brown sugar makes up the crust

Crushed cookies, butter, flour and brown sugar makes up the crust

Flatten it all down into a smooth and even layer. I like to use the back of a measuring cup! 

Flatten it all down into a smooth and even layer. I like to use the back of a measuring cup! 

Easy peasy filling! All you need is cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla!

Easy peasy filling! All you need is cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla!

Don't forget to line the pan with overhanging sides so it's easier for you to take it out of the pan after baking! 

Don't forget to line the pan with overhanging sides so it's easier for you to take it out of the pan after baking! 

And this moment is the one we've all been waiting for. Why do I love playing with fire so much?  

And this moment is the one we've all been waiting for. Why do I love playing with fire so much?  

And there you have it. Take a fork and crack through that torched sugar crust just to dig into that luscious cheesecake filling and crunchy cookie base. YOU ARE SOOO WELCOME! 

And there you have it. Take a fork and crack through that torched sugar crust just to dig into that luscious cheesecake filling and crunchy cookie base. YOU ARE SOOO WELCOME! 

So here you go, a dessert that incorporates both elements of these desserts that I love! 

CREME BRÛLÉE CHEESECAKE BARS

You need: 7" X 10" rectangle pan
Yield: 6 square bars

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups crushed digestive/graham cookies
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
113g unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

16 oz cream cheese, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

sugar, for torching

1) Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius. grease and line your pan with grease proof paper, making side the sides are overhanging on the longer sides

2) In a small bowl, mix together crushed cookies, flour and brown sugar. Stir in melted butter until combined. Press mixture into the bottom of the pan with the back or a spoon or spatula and bake for 10 mins.  Set aside. Keep oven on at the same temperature.

3) With a stand mixer and a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar till smooth and fluffy. 

4) Add in eggs and vanilla and beat for a minute on low speed or till combined.

5) Pour the cheesecake mixture over the baked crust. Bake for 20 mins till filling is just set. Let cool completely before refrigerating until completely chilled. (3 hrs is good, but best chilled overnight!)

6) Using a hot knife (torched or dipped in hot water and wiped dry), cut into square bars. Sprinkle sugar over the bars and torch them to perfection. ENJOY!

Recipe- Chocolate Hazelnut Feuilletine Jewel Bars!

Ashraf and I used to live on the second floor of our bakery (shophouse awesomeness and nightmare all at the same time!) and it was sooooo convenient to have all the equipment and ingredients readily available on hand every time I wanted to try a new recipe! Now that we have moved into a cosy little space we call home (till our shoebox BTO is ready), I often find myself missing out essential ingredients and even equipment needed to try out new recipes!

"Oh crap I'm missing the chocolate for the brownies I want to bake"

"Oh shoooot! This recipe calls for a mixer!"

Sigh, really took things for granted there, didn't I? Yes, somewhere, somehow along the way after all that packing and moving, this baker chose to buy pretty things like a marble kitchen towel dispenser and a geometric metal fruit bowl but doesn't have a mixer at home. GASP! THE IRONY OF IT ALL! But not to worry, mixers galore back at the bakery and I am saving up to buy that dream mixer for home use really soon. (Spent too much on home decor and holidays lah guys.)

For you guys who do not own a mixer OR an oven (I FEEEEL YOUUU!), fret not, this recipe is for you. It's chocolatey, crunchy and nutty all at the same time! It has a crunchy base with a smoooooooth and melt-in-your-mouth ganache sitting on top of it. And just to make it like a gazillion times more enticing and pretty, let's sprinkle some crushed hazelnut brittle on top of it! I like to use dark chocolate for this as the addition of Nutella and the brittle adds on to the sweetness of the bars and the dark chocolate beautifully balances the whole thing. However, you can use milk chocolate or mix both together if you prefer a sweeter and milkier bar.

 

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It uses one of my favourite crunch ingredients of all time- feuilletine. It's essentially delicately fragile and paper thin bits of toasted crepe-like biscuit that has a one of a kind texture that I find totally addictive! We use this in the bakery for our ever popular sea salt feuilletine chocolate tart. If you live in Singapore, you can find it at baking supply stores such as Sun Lik ($5 for a packet) or Kitchen Capers. Unfortunately, your neighborhood Phoon Huat or NTUC does not stock this amazing ingredient. And oh! Bonus! If you have leftover feuilletine, PLEASE POUR SOME MILK OVER IT AND EAT IT IMMEDIATELY FOR AN IMMENSELY PLEASURABLE CEREAL EXPERIENCE! Feuilletine turns to mush pretty fast when mixed with liquids so my advice is to inhale it all as fast as you can. If you can't get your hands on feuilletine, you can always substitute it for cornflakes BUT, the texture will not be the same.

 

After its assembled, you can cut it into bars or squares or you know, heart shaped ones if you are talented at sculpting (I don't have the patience). I like them in small kit-kat sized bars as these babies are rich (woah chocolate hitting you in every direction!) and I feel that having them in bars makes just a nice serving of chocolatey goodness. But hey, chocolate lovers, no one will judge you for not cutting it at all and just picking up the whole slab and eating all at one go with your fingers!

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CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT FEUILLETINE JEWEL BARS. Adapted from: www.thekitchn.com

makes one 9X13 tray

 

for the crust:

170g dark chocolate, melted

283g nutella

141g feuilletine

 

For the filling:

226g dark chocolate, chopped into smaller pieces

1 tsp salt

1 cup cream

56g unsalted butter, room temp, cut into small pieces

 

For the brittle topping:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

 

For the crust,  line a 9X13 pan with greaseproof paper, with sides overhanging to act as handles.

Stir the melted chocolate and Nutella in a large bowl till smooth. Pour feuilletine into the bowl and fold in till combined. Scoop out the mixture onto the paper lined pan and use a rubber spatula or even a spoon to press in and smoothen out the mixture into an even and smooth layer. Chill the pan in the fridge while you make the filling.

For the filling, place the dark chocolate and salt in a bowl that is heatproof. Bring cream to a boil in a small pot over the stove or in the microwave (in a microwave-able bowl of course!). Immediately pour it into the bowl of chopped dark chocolate. Let it sit for a minute or two to allow the chocolate to melt. Add the butter and whisk till smooth. For you pros who want to make the ganache super smooth and sexy, you may use an immersion blender.

Take the crust out of the fridge and pour the chocolate ganache mixture over it. Smooth it out into an even layer with a spatula. Transfer to the fridge for 2 hours until set. 

In the meantime, make a dry caramel. Line a baking tray/ sheet pan with greaseproof paper. Heat the sugar in a small pot/ saucepan over medium high heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, use a heatproof spatula to constantly move it around the pan- you want it all to melt and caramelise evenly. Cook and stir until the colour is a deep, dark amber, about 3-5 mins. Once it has reached your target colour, stir in the hazelnuts and make sure the nuts are coated with the caramel. Quickly dump the contents of the pot onto the prepared pan and spread it out as thinly as possible. Let cool completely.

In a ziplock bag (with a heavy rolling pin) or food processor, break the brittle up into tiny little pieces. You don't want them too big coz you won't want anyone to chip a tooth! You can store the brittle in an air tight container in a cool dark place. 

Once the chocolate is set, take it out of the fridge and cut them into small bars with a hot knife (torched or dipped in hot water). Sprinkle hazelnut brittle on top and slightly press down on it so it will stick to the surface of the chocolate. Keep stored in the fridge and serve chilled!