This past weekend, Katrina and I took a break from uni work and got into the kitchen. We’d been invited to a friend’s place for her birthday and asked to make the birthday cake.

Our only instructions were to make sure the cake was exciting. For me, that usually means lots of layers and lots of colour inside. For Katrina, it meant cheesecake. So we compromised and went with a combination.

Our recipe ended up being a play on a few different recipes (cookies and cream, chocolate, prettiness), complete with a chocolate collar.

 

Tash and Katrina’s layered cheesecake

To make this, you’ll need:

·     two 250g packets of cream cheese

·     2/3 cup caster sugar

·     3 eggs

·     100g dark chocolate, melted (the darker the chocolate, the more bitter – so if you want a bigger contrast, get some extra-dark chocolate)

·     100g white chocolate, melted

·     125g melted butter

·     1 packet of Chocolate Ripple biscuits (or similar)

·     1 packet of Oreos (we used chocolate-filled Oreos, but use whatever you’d like)

Start off by preheating your oven to 160 degrees, and line a spring-form tin. Crush your Chocolate Ripple biscuits (a food processer is the easiest way, but you can always beat them with a rolling pin) until they’re the consistency of breadcrumbs, then stir your butter in. Press the biscuit mix into the base of the tin. You can push the mixture up the sides if you’d like, but we kept ours on the bottom seeing as we were doing the chocolate collar. Put the tin in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Next, put your cream cheese and sugar in a bowl, beating with an electric mixer until it’s smooth and creamy. Add eggs, making sure each one’s fully combined before adding the next. Once that’s done, divide your mixture into two bowls, and put your dark chocolate in one, and your white chocolate in the other. Stir until they’re completely combined. Chop your Oreos up and put them in whatever layer you choose (we put ours in our white chocolate layer).

Now you’ve got your mixture ready, pull the base out of the fridge and pour your dark chocolate filling in. Smooth it over, making sure it’s even. When you put the white chocolate in, don’t pour it! Dollop a spoonful at a time, then gently smooth it out. You want a stark contrast between the two layers – doing it this way makes sure you won’t start picking up bits of your bottom layer.

Once that’s done, put your cheesecake in the oven for about 50-60 minutes. Once a cake’s ready you get an overwhelming whiff of it (even if you’re in another room), so use that as a guide as well! When it’s ready, your cheesecake should have a slight wobble to the centre. Turn your oven off, but keep the cheesecake in there with the door ajar for about an hour before putting it in the fridge.

 

Chocolate collar

They’re pretty impressive when they’re done well, and instantly take a cake from ho-hum to stellar. For our first time, we were quite pleased with ourselves.

Our recipe comes from an old dessert cookbook of Katrina’s – you’ll need about 50g of melted white chocolate, and about 150g of melted dark chocolate. This will vary depending on how large your cake is.

Measure the circumference of your cake and add a few centimetres for overlap. Measure the same distance out onto a piece of baking paper. With cooled white chocolate, drizzle or pipe a pattern onto your baking paper. Ours was just a simple squiggle, so anything goes!

Once the white chocolate has just set, spread the dark chocolate over the top of it. Work quickly! It’s better to have melted more chocolate than less just in case you find you need a bit more than expected.

When the dark chocolate has slightly set but is still flexible, wrap it around the cake. We definitely needed multiple hands for this, so grab a friend for this part if you’re doing it for the first time! Hold the ends over one another til set (you’ll have to peel off a bit of the baking paper). Once the entire collar’s set, peel off the rest of the baking paper and you’re done!

When we tried the cake that night, we were all in heaven. It’s a tad sweet (smaller slices are the way to go) but perfect for a delicious, chocolatey dessert.

 

Tash Pavez