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Spring is finally here! My crocuses are peaking up and the back yard is full of robins. I am near full to bursting in anticipation of the spring growing season. I put down 10 bags of top soil into my little garden bed. In a few more weeks, I am going to start my lettuce. I can’t decide if I am going to plant radishes and green onions. I have never done it on my own, though I have watched my grandmother do it in the past. How hard can it be? (Famous last words, I know.)

Today I am going to a retirement party for my old manager. Though I am happy that she is able to enjoy the fruits of her labors, I must confess I am nervous about the changes I know we will face under new management. One thing I have learned for certain- change is hard but one’s negative reaction can make it so much worse. Instead of pre-judging a new person based on your own fears, judge them on their actions. Most of the time you will find they are not so bad. And if you are wrong, at least they have proven you wrong. It is hard to be an optimist but much more pleasant.

Rich Chocolate Cheesecake

The Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds

The Filling:

  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

The Topping:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pecan halves

In a bowl, combine the first four ingredients. Press onto the bottom and 1 in. up the sides of a 9-in. springform pan; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in coffee and vanilla; mix well. Beat in cocoa just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared crust. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until center is almost set.

Remove from the oven; increase temperature to 425 degrees F. Combine the sour cream, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over warm cheesecake; arrange pecan halves as desired. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool for 1 hour longer. Chill overnight. Remove sides of pan. Refrigerate leftovers.

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