I’m Making Cheesecake on the Cooking Channel this Saturday!

Kelsey Nixon and Zoe Francois

On a lark I entered my Chocolate Glazed Praline Cheesecake in a Cooking Channel contest and WON. Oh my, what an adventure. It meant a trip to NYC, an appearance on The Cooking Channel’s Kelsey Nixon Show, a tour of the Food Network Kitchens and an excuse to eat my way across NYC. All of that happened in February and the segment we taped is airing this Saturday 6/30 on the Cooking Channel. I hope you will tune in and see my cheesecake on TV.

As if that wasn’t enough I also met one of my baking/writing/career/life mentors, Dorie Greenspan… Read More

Mint Cheesecake for St. Patrick’s Day

Mint Cheesecake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

When I was growing up in Vermont we celebrated St. Patricks Day at school by dressing up in green. It was fun, although green really isn’t my color, but I had no idea what any of it meant. It never occurred to me that it went beyond shamrock knee-highs, until I went to Chicago on March 17th, quite by accident. The city shut down at noon and people flooded the streets wearing green and carrying beer of the same color. Even the mighty river was dyed green in honor of the 4th century Saint. Although few people probably know the origins of the festivities, we still honor this religious man all these centuries later by wearing green and celebrating Irish culture. Even for those of us who have no ties to Ireland, it is too fun to miss out on.

This mint cheesecake is my nod to the day. It seemed fitting to go green, but I wanted to do something particularly fun. The stripes are easy to create and make for a terrific “Wow” moment when you slice into the cake. The trick to the color is a dash or two of food coloring. I do use fresh mint in the batter, which adds a bright, fresh flavor, but on its own, it is honestly a bit lack luster in color. The chocolate crust makes the whole thing taste like a super-lush “thin mint.” Read More

Chocolate Glazed Praline Cheesecake with Candied Hazelnuts

Chocolate glazed praline cheesecake with candied hazelnuts | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

There are certain things that happen in a professional kitchen that strike me as magic. They seem unmanageably gorgeous and too difficult to attempt at home, but usually with a bit of guidance anyone can do it. These hazelnut candies are on the list. They look like delicate jewels, standing impossibly tall and thin. They are the perfect accessory to a sleek chocolate covered praline cheesecake and not at all difficult to make.

This cake is about as smooth and rich as is possible. To flavor the cheesecake I used a product by love n’ bake, which is just ground praline made into a paste. You can replace it with nutella (for even more chocolate) or even peanut butter (go smooth for this). The trick to the texture is baking in a water bath at a low temperature to prevent the cake from baking too fast.

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Clean-out-the-Fridge Lemon Curd Cheesecake Tart!

Lemon Curd Cheesecake Tart | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Today I was inspired to clean out my refrigerator and freezer. Partly because I was procrastinating like crazy. I just couldn’t force myself to sit at the computer all day and work on the new book. The January deadline is getting bigger and more menacing, and yet today I just couldn’t do it. I really did need to clean out the fridge to make room for more buckets of dough and for the hundreds of mini Devil’s Food Cupcakes I have to make for the Children’s Heartlink Gala this Friday. ** Read More

Creamy Chai Cheesecake (or is it Pots de Crème?)

Creamy Chai Cheesecake Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

As some of you know my oven blew up last week, literally! I am still waiting with bated breathe for the UPS driver to deliver the new heating coil, so I can resume doing the thing I love most. It should finally come tomorrow and believe me I am regretting not paying the extra $37 to have it delivered overnight! Patience is clearly something I need to work on.

Just before the oven combusted I’d made this creamy chai cheesecake. I guess it would be more aptly called a chai cream cheese pots de crème. Unlike the dry, grainy version so many of us are used to and frankly don’t care for, this cheesecake is so smooth and creamy that it is just barely set. It is baked in a cup or ramekin, like a pot de cream, without the distraction of a crust. Read More