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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Charlie’s Chocolate Charlotte for his 8th Birthday! (how to make your own ladyfingers!)

Chocolate Charlotte Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Happy Birthday Charlie! You are the best sous chef a mom could ever ask for!

Not to be outdone by his brother’s Valentine’s dessert, Charlie designed these little cakes for his 8th birthday. Complete with layers of different chocolate mousse, a drizzle of caramel and topped with cream and berries. He instructed me to put strips of cake around the outside to hold it all in. Voila, he had built a chocolate charlotte in his mind! The kid is a genius! (in my humble, unbiased opinion ;))

Charlie has helped me in the kitchen ever since he could drag a stool over to the counter. He cracks eggs like pro, knows how to use a kitchen scale and is going to have better knife skills than I do someday soon. He already makes his own crepes, aebleskivers and bread, of course! He has passion in the kitchen and that special touch it takes to be a great chef! And a proud mom! Read More

Glitz and Glam Chocolate Tart with Chai Caramel on Oscar Night!

Chocolate Tart with Chai Caramel Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

For the Oscars I thought it would be fun to do a dessert with some bling! There’s nothing like adding gold leaf to a decadent chocolate caramel tart to make it worthy of a black tie affair. I was cozied up in my pajamas with a room full of my girlfriends, but despite our lack of proper attire we sipped champagne and ate gold leaf.

I had lofty aspirations of seeing all of the nominated films, but alas life got in the way and I only saw a couple of them. The film getting all the buzz this year is Slumdog Millionaire, and it is one that I saw. I must say I loved it! The movie, set in India, was complicated, gritty, suspenseful, endearing and touching. All of the qualities that a great movie should have. This movie, along with the newest addition to my cookbook collection La Maison du Chocolat*, was the inspiration for this chocolate tart with chai caramel. I started with the classic combination of chocolate and caramel, but I added the spices of India to the mix.

Cheers and may your favorite film win! Read More

Butterscotch Pudding with Coffee-Caramel Bananas, and a Trifle!

Butterscotch Pudding Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Butterscotch is one of those flavors that can make you travel through time. I remember eating it, still warm off the stove, when I was just a kid. It was straight from the box of Jell-o instant pudding and it was fabulous to my 7-year-old taste buds. Today I’d probably have a very different reaction to that product and my poor kids have never even tried it. I’d be horrified by its overly sweet and gelatinous taste and they would probably love it! Instead I made them some from scratch, so they would have the same romantic memory, but this one they can take into adulthood.

I got David Lebovitz’s Ripe for Dessert book this year from my aunt Kris, the same one I sent the cake to FL for. It is a lovely book about all kinds of tasty desserts made with fresh fruit. As I was flipping through it fell to the page with butterscotch pudding. He paired it with bananas, which at first seemed like a match that would be far too sweet. But the banana’s are caramelized in coffee, which perfectly balances the sugar with the bite of coffee. Sweet enough to satisfy my sons and yet not at all cloying like the Jell-o of my childhood. Read More

Caramel Cupcakes Daring Baker Challenge! (with a bittersweet chocolate ganache surprise)

Caramel Cupcakes Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This month’s Daring Baker Challenge was submitted by Dolores of Culinary Curiosity (where you will find the recipes) and features a cake by Shuna from Eggbeater. The challenge is a fabulous study in caramel! The rich, moist cake is flavored with caramel syrup and then topped with a brown butter frosting that also gets its flare from the syrup. In the end I added a bit of dark chocolate ganache, which is a lovely contrast to the sweetness of the cake. I decorated the top of my sweet caramel cupcakes with giant roses, which I’ll show you how to make! Read More